China U-turn after protest over pipeline
CHINESE officials cancelled an industrial waste pipeline project yesterday after anti-pollution demonstrators occupied a government office in eastern China, destroying computers and overturning cars.
The demonstration was the latest in a string of protests sparked by fears of environmental degradation and highlights the social tensions the government in Beijing faces as it approaches a leadership transition this year.
It was also the second cancellation of an industrial project this month, as officials buckle under pressure from protests.
Zhang Guohua, mayor of the eastern China city of Nantong, said the city would terminate the planned pipeline that would have emptied waste water from a
Japanese-owned paper factory into the sea near Qidong. The decision came hours after about 1,000 protesters marched through Qidong, about an hour north of Shanghai, shouting slogans against the pipeline.
“The government says the waste will not pollute the sea, but if that’s true, then why don’t they dump it into Yangtze River?” said logistics worker Lu Shuai, 25.
Several protesters entered the city government’s main building where they smashed computers, overturned desks and threw documents out of the windows to loud cheers from the crowd.
Environmental worries have stoked calls for expanded rights for citizens and greater consultation in the tightly controlled one-party state. The outpouring of public anger is emblematic of the rising discontent facing Chinese leaders, who are obsessed with maintaining stability and struggling to balance growth with rising public anger over environmental threats.
The leadership has vowed to clean up China’s skies and waterways and increasingly tried to appear responsive to complaints about pollution.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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