Pollution protesters force China to halt plant
CHINESE authorities have shelved plans to expand a petrochemical factory in the east of the country after a weekend of protests by thousands of people over pollution fears.
The rally in the eastern city of Ningbo, which comes at a sensitive time in China’s political calendar, swelled over the weekend and led to clashes between protesters and police.
Authorities in Ningbo said in a statement yesterday that they and the project’s investor had “resolutely” agreed not to go ahead with the expansion.
The factory is a subsidiary of Sinopec, one of the biggest petrochemical companies in the world.
Outside the local government offices, where crowds of protesters remained, an official tried to read the statement on a loudspeaker but was drowned out by shouts demanding that the mayor step down.
On the third attempt, the crowd briefly cheered but then turned back to demanding that authorities release protesters being held inside the building.
Authorities in the city were under great pressure to defuse the protest because China’s leadership is seeking calm before the ruling party’s congress next month.
It was unclear last might whether local authorities will ultimately cancel the petrochemical project or continue it when the opposition eases.
Hundreds of people outside the offices refused to budge despite being urged to leave by officials. Riot police with helmets and shields came out of the government compound and pushed the crowd back.
Police dragged six men and one woman into the compound, beating and kicking at least three of them.
They also smashed placards and took away flags.
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