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Over 10,000 Rally To Close Petrochemical Plant in China (video)

Over 10,000 Rally To Close Petrochemical Plant in China (video)

After 10,000 to 70,000 people assembled on Sunday without a permit in People’s Square in Dalian in north-eastern China, Chinese authorities have ordered that a petrochemical plant be shut down. The demonstration was “one of the biggest in a series of recent Nimby rallies against potential polluters in China,” says the Guardian. Local Communist party chief, Tang Jun, and Dalian’s mayor, Li Wancai have said they will close the plant “immediately” and relocate it. Some protesters have demanded a clear timetable for the plant to be shut down and said they will not leave the square until it is closed.

Here’s a video of the protests:

The protests occurred after reports last week that a protective dike around the Fujia factory, in the Jinzhou industrial complex, was breached by rain and high waves with typhoon Muifa approaching. The plant manufactures paraxylene (PX), which can be highly toxic; residents feared that PX could spill. PX is a benzene-based chemical widely used in plastic bottles, cleaning products and polyester clothing and, after long-term exposure, can damage vital organs. The wall of the dike has been repaired but residents were still fearful after reports emerged that the Fujia factory was operating illegally months before receiving government and environment approval, says the BBC.

The demonstration, called a “group stroll,” was organized via Sina Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which is banned in China) and Renren. A local student, David Gao, said the protest had grown so large that it spilled beyond the central People’s Square to outside city government offices and local streets. The crowd was largely peaceful and, says the Guardian, “white collar.” Protesters chanted “PX Out!”, “Refuse PX”, “PX out of Dalian” and held up banners saying “I love Dalian and reject poison” and “Give me back my home and garden! PX out! Protect Dalian!” Some sang old revolutionary songs; others wore gas masks and stood on police cars. Riot police were dispatched but only minor scuffles reported.

The BBC notes that, while the protests occurred, censors were still at work, with authorities blocking terms like “PX”, “Dalian” and “Dalian protests” on Weibo.

While political and human rights protests have been swiftly quashed by the Chinese government, other protests about environmental concerns have recently occurred. In the southern city of Xiamen, tens of thousands of people joined a protest walk of a PX prompt in 2007, after which the local government moved the facility elsewhere. The Guardian points out that many of the online calls for the Dalian protest made reference to the Xiamen protest, a large oil spill in Dalian last year and a 50 square kilometer oil slick explosion of two crude oil pipelines in the nearby Bohai Sea that was not reported for a month.

 

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Image of Dalian protesters from a video by sunzhenyufrank

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29 comments

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7:29PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Young Chinese are DIFFERENT!

9:47AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

I am pleased that these people are challenging the authority of the government. I hope that they have the courage to do this whenever there is something that is a risk to their health.

6:34PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Good for the Chinese people, we should all take a leason here and end the damage to the environment every where.

5:59PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

I hope that people all over the world will ban together and demand any polluters to stop, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, etc. We are about to make this planet uninhabitable for humankind.

4:29PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

It's abolsutely amazing to see what Chinese people can do when they ban together, especially since their population is so much bigger. The impact is that much more substantial. I hope that they continue to challenge authority for what is right as they continue to grow and develop along the way.

3:17PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

CHRIS. R i agree with the words u sed. Its all sickening .

2:22PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Good for them. They need to protest the way their Gov't and people treat animals/wildlife too! Thanks Kristina!~

11:02AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

This is so awesome to see that the Chinese are just not going to stand down to their rights anymore. I'm also so impressed to see the rising of animal rights activists in China. This is just awesome!!!!!!

8:49AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Look, Tiananmen square incident happened over 22 years ago. Maybe, Beijing government isn't as sever now as it was in 1989?

6:18AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

I am thrilled to see the Chinese people are standing up to their oppressive government. What extraordinary courage, especially with the memory of Tiananmen square before their eyes. We can only pray that this inspires more and more of their millions of people who are forced to live such rigid lives, to stand up and demand a decent life for themselves and their families. And I betcha a lot of the ordinary Chinese folk are against skinning animals alive, but they are afraid to say so. It will take longer to get them out of the habit of eating cats and dogs, because that's ingrained in them, but I believe that could change too. This is a tiny sign of hope. Let's build on it, with our thoughts and prayers.

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