Uber, Lyft drivers in hot spot in China after China bans ride-hailing companies

China has banned ride-sharing companies in a move that has been met with outrage and criticism by the public, the country’s top taxi regulator has said.

“The government has decided to regulate and regulate like the traditional industries, that is, taxi and motor vehicle, which is a very old model,” said Chen Jian, a top official at the China Civil Aviation Administration (CCAA), which oversees the countrys transportation sector.

“This will ensure safety and reduce the burden on drivers.”

The CCAA’s decision comes a day after China’s State Administration of Industry and Information Technology (SAIT) said that ride-hire companies would not be allowed to operate in its marketplaces, a move it said could cost the country more than US$20 billion ($22 billion).

The ban comes in response to a report that found Uber and other ride-share services were posing a “serious threat” to public safety, with the two companies reportedly recruiting drivers with criminal backgrounds.

The ban on ride-booking platforms was also expected to affect Uber’s business in China, which already faces regulatory scrutiny from authorities in the western Chinese province of Jiangsu, which has been one of the most affected by the crackdown.

“It is not possible for ride-services to operate at all in the Chinese market,” a taxi driver in Beijing told Al Jazeera.

“We are worried that we will lose our livelihoods and that Uber will be able to continue operating in China.”

Uber’s business is already in a precarious position, with its drivers in China facing arrest, prosecution and deportation.

A report published by the Shanghai Daily on Tuesday said that Uber’s drivers had been detained by the SAAIT since August for violating the rules, with one driver allegedly being “stopped at traffic lights” for 10 days, while another driver had been fined over a week’s worth of work and jailed for six months.

The newspaper quoted a SAAITS official as saying that the agency was considering further restrictions, and warned drivers that if they continued to work for Uber, they would be fined.

“We must act to ensure the safety of drivers and ensure they are not involved in criminal activity,” the SaaITS official said.

“As long as this remains the case, we will continue to monitor this situation and will take necessary measures to protect drivers.”

Riders in China have long complained of being harassed by the taxi industry, which in many cases charges fares for journeys that are illegal and can result in the driver being arrested.

Ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, have often faced challenges in China.

Uber’s popularity in China has also raised fears that the services could hurt the economy and reduce demand for taxis.

The crackdown on ride services is likely to have a chilling effect on other companies in China who rely on ride sharing services.

In August, Uber announced that it would no longer operate in China as a taxi service, citing concerns that its business could be harmed by the ban.

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