More taxi drivers have held strikes across China as their frustrations grow over poor pay and increasing competition from car-rental drivers using smartphone applications to offer unlicensed taxi services. Thousands of drivers in the cities of Chengdu, Changchun, Jinan, Nanjing and Shenyang have stopped work, with some gathering on the streets. The strikes first started in Shenyang on January 4 and lasted for several days. Taxi drivers in Chengdu held strikes on Monday and Tuesday. Tensions rose during the strikes as passengers failed to find taxis. It was reported last weekend that angry passengers in Nanjing attacked some taxis and even assaulted drivers, who had refused to drive them to their destinations. Taxi drivers feel increasingly threatened by car-rental drivers offering taxi services by using smartphone apps. The apps allow drivers without taxi licences to directly pick up passengers. Often they offer cheaper prices than regular taxi services. The licensed taxi drivers said they had no control over the levels of charges imposed on customers because they needed to pay rent of several thousand yuan each month to their taxi companies, with a large part of the fees going on state taxes. Despite the continuous taxi strikes, experts said drivers using car-rental apps tended to provide a better service, such as free Wi-fi and phone charging services. The added competition could force reforms within the taxi industry, including the lowering of prices and also making taxi drivers provide a better service, they said. Qu Hongbin, chief economist for Greater China at HSBC, told China News Service that breaking the monopoly in sectors related to people’s livelihoods, such as the taxi industry, was an important starting point in the country’s social reform. Professor Zhou Tianyong, of the Central Party School, in Beijing, has supported efforts to break the taxi industry’s monopoly, but is opposed to the current heavy fees that taxi drivers are forced to pay. For now local authorities are trying to stop the taxi strikes. Yesterday the Chengdu Municipal Transport Committee announced a ban on private cars and rental cars providing unlicensed taxi services. It also provided hotline telephone numbers for people to call to report cases of illegal car rental taxi services, West China City Daily reported.