• Thu
  • Nov 27, 2014
  • Updated: 5:05pm
PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 2013, 10:47am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Kunming mayor stays true to his promise and opens microblog account

BIO

Patrick Boehler has published on China and Southeast Asia in four languages for publications in the US, Europe and Asia. After stints with Austria's ministries of defence and foreign affairs in Vienna and Beijing, he began his reporting career in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini and, later, The Irrawaddy Magazine, a Myanmar exile publication in Thailand. He holds a doctorate in political science and has taught journalism at the University of Hong Kong. Follow him on Twitter: @mrbaopanrui
 

The mayor of Kunming, Li Wenrong, has posted his first message on a Sina Weibo microblog in a move aimed at showing government transparency in the Yunnan provincial capital.

Li had promised to open the account on Thursday, when he met with hundreds of protesters on Kunming's streets. The angry crowd had ignored official intimidation to voice their opposition against a petrochemical project on the city's outskirts.

"I want to listen to your views on the construction and development of Kunming," Li wrote in his only microblog post so far. "I and my colleagues will carefully study everyone's opinions and recommendations."

Within an hour from opening the account, Li had more than 8,000 followers and his blog post had been discussed by more than 3,000 people.

While some praised him, most commenting online urged him to move the refinery project away from Kunming.

The project, run by China's biggest state-owned refiner China National Petrochemical Corporation lies at the end of a pipeline which links gas fields in the Bay of Bengal with China's southwest. It has been a decade in the making.

Protesters were concerned about the environmental impact of the gas refinery, which was given the go-ahead in March, particularly over its emissions of carcinogenic paraxylene - a downstream product. 

Li Wenrong's reaction marks a new direction authorities are taking in confronting the protest, which is the second Kunming residents have staged this month. Similarly, authorities in Chengdu have detained and intimidated citizens to avoid a similar protest. 

Li, a paunchy 50-year-old engineer, has just become the provincial capital's mayor in December last year. On Thursday, he pledged to meet with the protesters by next week, but refrained from saying that a cancellation of the project could be considered.

Professing his dedication to a clean city, he told the crowd that upon retiring in 10 years' time, he would continue to live in Kunming.

The city's communist party secretary, Zhang Tianxin, and the provincial leaders Qin Guangrong and Li Jiheng have not yet responded to the protest.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or