Jiangmen uranium plant talks extended after protests
More than 2,000 people staged two protests yesterday outside the Jiangmen municipal government building against a uranium processing plant.
City officials agreed to extend the public consultation by 10 days after residents vowed to stage another rally on Sunday, when the original consultation period was scheduled to end.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government said it was seeking more information from Guangdong authorities about the proposed nuclear fuel plant, about 130 kilometres from the city.
Some of the protesters at yesterday's rallies, most of whom were aged between 20 and 40, said they were imitating Hong Kong people's use of peaceful action to voice their disagreement with the government's ignoring public opinion.
"We are the new generation that has been influenced by Hong Kong's culture since we were very young," said one 33-year-old protester, who rushed from his Guangzhou office to join about 1,000 people at the afternoon protest. "We want to tell our government that we can organise peaceful and rational protests like Hong Kong residents."
More than 200 civilian police and paramilitary armed police were sent to the scene.
The first of yesterday's rallies started at 8am.
Many of the protesters were university students home for their summer holiday. "Jiangmen is my hometown where I grew up. I love it here and do not want my parents and relatives living under nuclear fear," a woman studying in Shanghai said, requesting anonymity. "We want to live safely. No more nukes."
The protesters chanted as they made their way from Donghu Square to the government building. Their ranks swelled as people joined along the way.
A deputy mayor came outside to meet protest leaders and promised to extend the public consultation period.
Separately, Jiangmen natives living in Macau and South America voiced their discontent in a paid advertisement on the front page of the Macau Daily yesterday. They were worried that a leak from the plant could pollute the Xi River in Jiangmen, which is also a water source for Macau.
A spokeswoman for Hong Kong's Security Bureau said it had asked the relevant Guangdong authorities to provide more information about the proposed project.
The chairman of the Professional Commons lobby group, Albert Lai Kwong-tak, said his organisation would launch a signature campaign with green groups, including Greenpeace, within days to express opposition to the project.
"The project indicates the possibility for the government to launch a second wave of massive nuclear development in Guangdong, with a processing plant to reduce the cost of producing nuclear fuel," Lai said. "It poses a much higher risk to Hong Kong, … already surrounded by nuclear plants built in the province."