12/21/2011, 00.00
CHINA
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Wukan inspires news protest as people in Haimen take to the streets against pollution

The southern village is raising awareness in the rest of Guangdong province about people power against the abuses of the regime. To save their coastal ecosystem, residents in Haimen stop the construction of a coal-fired power plant.
Guangzhou (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Chinese are increasingly aware of their power. Inspired by the case of Wukan village, they are getting more and more involved in new protests against the abuses of the regime, land grabs and unchecked pollution. This is the case of residents of Haimen, a town whose economy is centred on fishing, in the rich southern province of Guangdong, 115 km from Wukan. Its residents have stopped the construction of a coal-fired plan that could destroy the local ecosystem and fishermen’s livelihoods.

Two people died in clashes with police, local residents said. Lin, a witness, said that demonstrations began yesterday morning when a group of residents gathered in front of a government building whilst another blocked the main road. When police moved in to remove the crowd, it killed two students, aged 16 and 20.

The authorities have denied that anyone was killed, but acknowledge that a number of people were wounded. Witnesses insist that police in anti-riot gear used tear gas and truncheons to disperse the crowd. More than a hundred were beaten. Students were held in school until later in the evening for fear they might join the protest.

"Haimen is a small place, with only 130,000 people, but we try our best to protect our environment," said Zheng Yanpin, a local resident. "We call on the central government to help us and allow overseas media to report what's happened because local media won't cover our story. The people of Wukan are a good model. People who fight together can put pressure on the authorities to negotiate."

Tensions have been rising in Haimen since October, when local officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a big Huadian Power International power plant.

The US$ 900 million project includes two 600MW generating units that authorities claim are highly efficient and environmentally friendly, as well as a port for unloading coal.

Haimen residents said the coal-fired power plant would ruin the township's coastal waters and cost fishermen their livelihood.
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