'City of light' night faces blackout

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 October, 2010, 12:00am

Angry Guangzhou residents are resisting a government campaign to light up the city before and during the Asian Games and are planning a blackout instead.

More than 2,000 internet users have vowed to support a campaign posted on Sina.com's microblog service on Thursday night calling on people to switch off their lights or burn candles at home on November 12, the night of the Games' opening ceremony.

'Please protect the environment, turn off your lights or burn candles at home as a silent protest against the government's money-burning Asian Games project,' the posting said.

In just a few hours the campaign generated more than 2,100 favourable reactions, with internet users rounding on the government's plan. The posting was deleted yesterday morning and then reinstated in the afternoon, showing only about 200 reactions. However, copycat campaigns have also gathered support.

Ray Zhou, 30, who works in the hotel industry and initiated the original Guangzhou lights-off campaign, said the Games had given Guangzhou people a year of misery.

'The government has been talking about increasing electricity fees lately and now they are asking us to turn on our lights just for the Asian Games, how immoral is that? This is totally going against the low-carbon concept the government has been promoting,' Zhou said.

'I live beside the Pearl River. Over the past two months, flashing lights of rainbow patterns, different colours and styles have been beaming non-stop on the walls of the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou International Finance Centre as late as 1am.'

He said he was happy to see his campaign, inspired by a 2010 Earth Hour promotional clip, gain such a favourable reaction online.

'I'm sure millions of Guangzhou people out there are feeling what I feel. We are fed up with all of the urban face-lifting construction projects, excessive decoration of roads and replacement of street lamps,' he said.

The Nanfang Daily reported on Wednesday that the government was calling on residents to light up the night sky in a bid to create a sparkling and dazzling image of Guangzhou for the Games' opening ceremony.

It said the government planned to persuade people living in various districts to switch on their lights on November 6, when China Central Television will film the Pearl River, and on the 12th.

In the run-up to the Games, lights have been installed on the tops of buildings along the city's Huancheng highway. The Guangzhou Daily quoted the city's mayor, Wan Qingliang, on Wednesday as saying that extra spotlights would be added to highlight the Pearl River's banks.