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    » 07/05/2012, 00.00

    CHINA

    Shifang: govt to pay medical expenses of people hurt in clashes



    Residents took to the street to stop a polluting plant and won. All but six protesters arrested have been freed and the project has been scrapped. More and more Chinese are become civic minded.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Shifang City authorities said they would pay the medical costs of people, both protesters and passers-by, hurt during three days of protest against the construction of a US$ 1.6 billion molybdenum-copper alloy plant.

    As a result of clashes between locals and police, the city scrapped the plan. Residents were concerned that it would increase local cancer rates and pollute the countryside.

    Protests began on 1 July. Local witnesses said that on the first evening police in anti-riot gear and soldiers took over the town's centre after firing tear gas to disperse the crowd.

    Agents also took 27 people into custody for destroying public property; 21 were released without charges. The six still in custody are charged with throwing objects at police, but their status might improve since residents continue to demand their release.

    A 15-year-old boy has accused riot police of excessive force. "I was a passer-by when 20 or 30 riot policemen rushed at me. One of them kicked me to the ground, and other policemen beat me with truncheons, while others kept stepping on and kicking me for about a minute."

    Shifang residents' victory marks a turning point for China's pollution problem. Until recently, local Communist authorities tended to seize land without compensation to sell it to private interests that more often than not built polluting factories. However, more and more ordinary Chinese are become civic minded and demonstrations are proving successful.

    The Communist Party is conscious it cannot stop social protests, which run in the tens of thousands each year, and so it has opted for compromise in cases where it would not lose face.

    The central government has warned local officials "not to exaggerate" in such cases since they are often moved by corruption, reminding them "that the survival of the system of national government is at stake."

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    See also

    04/07/2012 CHINA
    Sichuan: residents stop the construction of a cancer-causing plant
    After two days of demonstrations and clashes with police, the people of Shifang succeed in stopping the construction of a US$ 1.6 billion molybdenum-copper alloy plant. Party releases demonstrators arrested. Online, "people's patience" wears thin. "It is time for us to be independent," some say.

    23/08/2013 NEPAL - CHINA
    China tries to cover up giant corruption scandal in Nepal
    Nepali authorities detain 22 senior Nepali officials as well as 2 Chinese suppliers who worked with the state electricity company following an unprecedented operation by Anti-Corruption Commission. The identity of the Chinese company involved is still unknown, but Beijing is concerned the story might discredit its electrical product exports.

    15/07/2009 CHINA
    Chemical plant explodes in Henan: five dead, two missing and 100 injured
    Blast occurred early this morning. Seven of the wounded are in serious conditions. Wild development, poor maintenance, non-application of safety standards, corruption among the causes of many accidents at work.

    13/01/2009 CHINA
    Popular protest makes government “move” polluting plant
    The year-long peaceful protest by the people of Xiamen’s against a new petrochemical plant gets Beijing to move the planned plant to another site. For most people in China, pollution is a serious danger whilst authorities remain favourable to new industrial installation.

    31/03/2014 CHINA
    Guangdong, 1,000 people demonstrate against the construction of a chemical plant
    The population of Maoming took to the streets to stop an industry of aromatic hydrocarbon, seen as a threat to the environment already plagued by rampant pollution. Meanwhile, also in the southern province, the village of Wukan returns to the polls to elect their leaders: but the government has arrested all possible opponents.



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