Uber Chengdu office ‘visited’ by local authorities

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-6 23:53:01

Authorities in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, visited the local offices of US-based car services firm Uber, an official said on Wednesday, following a recent raid on Uber's office in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.

The official at the city's transport commission told the Global Times that authorities visited the Uber's office to "obtain information."

The company sent text message to its drivers in Chengdu saying that its services have not been affected and they will continue actively communicating with authorities.

The Uber office in Guangzhou was raided on April 30, with a number of mobile phones in the office seized for investigation, the Xinhua News Agency reported Friday, citing a city official.

Uber is suspected of unlicensed operations and conducting illegal business by allowing private car owners to offer taxi services, a Guangzhou transportation official was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

The raid took place following protests by some taxi drivers in Guangzhou after Uber rolled out a new car-pooling service called People's Uber in October 2014.

The service allows users to find available private vehicles nearby and pay via the Uber app. Guangzhou is one of the six cities where the service is available, according to the company's Sina Weibo account.

"Uber should be investigated as it is illegal. However, it has greatly benefited local residents by providing high-quality services and a convenient experience," a local Uber driver surnamed Zhang told the Global Times. 

"The company needs to negotiate with authorities and find a way to remedy current laws," Zhang said.

Another local citizen surnamed Liu who frequently uses this service said that he felt sorry to hear the news.

"It solves the long-existing problem of it being difficult to find a taxi," he said.

Unlicensed private cars are prohibited in China from offering taxi services, but booming market demand has fueled the popularity of illegal service providers, often sparking anger among licensed taxi drivers who protest that it is squeezing their profits.

Currently, only cars belonging to vehicle rental companies can be used for car-for-hire services, according to the latest regulation released by the Ministry of Transport.

The company, which offers taxi services in over 56 countries and regions worldwide, has encountered bans in 14 of them.

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