Tension as China scraps factory plan

Police stood guard over hundreds of people gathered in a tense Chinese city Wednesday, a day after authorities bowed to violent protests and cancelled plans to build a controversial factory.

The protests in Shifang city highlighted and fuelled concerns around China over the impacts of rampant economic development on the environment, with millions of Chinese closely following developments on the Internet.

Shifang authorities on Tuesday night announced they would not build the $1.6-billion metals factory -- after two days of clashes during which riot police used tear gas to quell thousands of protesters.

"Shifang from this day forward will not build this project," Shifang Communist Party chief Li Chengjing said in a statement.

Authorities also announced they would release 21 of 27 people initially detained, giving in to another key demand of the protesters.

The backdown over the factory and release of the detainees, which came a day after the government said initially that it would only suspend construction, appeared a rare win for grassroots environmental activism in China.

Incidents similar to the one in Shifang are reported regularly around China, many over environmental concerns that locals say are linked to corruption, but authorities typically quash the protests and push ahead with the projects.

Some Shifang residents welcomed the government's backdown, but others expressed caution that the announcement was not genuine and only aimed at ending the protests.

"I think... that because there are too many mass protests, they just want to use this method to get rid of the crowds," one resident, who asked not to be identified, told AFP.

"I personally think (the factory will be built), but I don't know for sure."

However, another resident expressed relief and said she believed the government.

"We are very happy to hear the announcement that they will not build the plant any more," she said.

Adding to the uncertainty, an official with the company that was to build the factory, Shanghai-listed Sichuan Hongda, said it had not been officially informed that the plant had been scrapped.

"Our company has not received the official document from the government that the... project will not be built," the official, who gave only his surname Lin, told AFP.

Lin also insisted the environmental fears of the local community were unfounded.

"In the project plan, the investment in environmental protection was very high and it would not have a very big impact on the lives of the local people."

Hongda's share price fell 9.24 percent on Wednesday, just shy of the 10-percent daily limit.

In a sign of lingering tensions in Shifang, a few hundred people continued on Wednesday to gather around the main government office where the worst of the protests had occurred, an AFP photographer witnessed.

The people were not calling out, holding banners or protesting in other visible forms, but a heavy police presence stood guard around them.

Elsewhere around the city of about 200,000 people, many police vehicles patrolled the streets, although there were no signs of the riot police that had sought to quell the protests on Monday and Tuesday.

Authorities also said they were still detaining six people for crimes such as smashing public property and overturning cars, as well as throwing flower pots and stones.

Two people were killed in the protests, according to rights watchdog Chinese Human Rights Defenders, although the government denied anyone had died.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’
    ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’

    The Philippine consulate general in Hong Kong believes that the “racist” statement of legislator Regina Ip against Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong is not reflective of the general sentiments of the Hong Kong community. Hong Kong is home to more than 173,00 Filipinos working mostly as household service workers. “They have left their loved ones back home to earn a decent living taking care of Hong Kong families. This, in turn, has engendered positive impact on both the quality of life …

  • SWS: Gov’t rating sinks to record low
    SWS: Gov’t rating sinks to record low

    “The Aquino administration is firmly determined to carry on and complete priority programs in all five pillars of the Philippine development plan, to ensure that reforms will be sustained by strengthened public institutions, to tread the righteous path and ensure that good governance becomes the norm at all levels of government, and to sustain and make permanent the gains from the transformation of mindsets and institutions,” Coloma added. Lawmakers expressed belief yesterday that the Aquino …

  • ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation
    ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation

    Manny Pacquiao’s face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses, and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero’s “fight of the century” nears. Pacmania is sweeping the nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. …

  • House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP
    House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP

    The House ad hoc committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will put police forces in the envisioned new autonomous Muslim region under the Philippine National Police (PNP), and not under the regional chief minister. “We will delete the provision in the draft BBL giving the chief minister operational, administrative and disciplinary control over police forces in the region,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, committee chairman, said in a television interview. He said under …

  • Phl to seek more US military aid
    Phl to seek more US military aid

    The Philippines said yesterday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defenses, as it faces Chinese “aggressiveness” in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said he was drafting a “wish list” for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for “equipment and training” when …

  • Senate bill seeks planting of trees in parks, schools
    Senate bill seeks planting of trees in parks, schools

    A bill in the Senate is seeking to require the planting of trees in parks, school grounds, vacant lots and other urban areas nationwide. Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said Bill No. 2566, the Greening Act of 2015, supports and complements the government’s National Greening Program to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land from 2011 to 2016. “The Philippines was once known for its vast and lush forests,”he said. The Philippines was also named one of the world’s 10 most threatened …

  • ‘No need to convene NSC over sea tension’
    ‘No need to convene NSC over sea tension’

    There is no need to convene the National Security Council at the moment, despite China’s continued provocative activities in the West Philippine Sea. “At this time, the President does not see any need really to convene the NSC,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte yesterday told a news briefing, carried live by state-run PTV-4 and radio station dzRB. …

  • Fisherman narrates Chinese harassment at sea
    Fisherman narrates Chinese harassment at sea

    Fishing is the only livelihood available for Efren Montehermoso Jr. But after a huge Chinese ship drove away his small fishing boat near the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, he promised never to return to the area for fear of his life. Montehermoso of Barangay Cato in Infanta town was among the group of 80 Filipino fishermen driven away by Chinese coast guard on April 9. Montehermoso said they went to the disputed area not to fish but just to seek temporary …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options