More than 30 people have been detained and 100 sent for unspecified 'legal education' following three days of protests against pollution from a solar panel factory in Zhejiang province, a local government announced yesterday.
Those detained, who were among several hundred angry protesters, were accused of damaging property belonging to Jinko Solar Holdings, the New York-listed company that owns the factory, and of 'seriously disturbing social order', Shen Xianghong, the deputy mayor of Haining city, said at a news conference.
The city government ordered that the factory be shut down on Monday after an assessment showed that the mass death of fish in a nearby river was directly caused by sewage discharged by the factory.
The government did not say how many people were injured during the protests, but rumours have circulated in Yuanhua, the township where the incident occurred, that many were seriously hurt in clashes with the factory's staff and local police.
Angry over the death of so many fish, villagers living near the factory demonstrated from Thursday to Saturday at its gate and damaged eight vehicles and four police cars.
An expert panel organised by the Environmental Protection Bureau of Jiaxing city, which has administrative jurisdiction over Haining, inspected the factory on Monday, the Haining Environment Bureau said on its Weibo microblogging account.
The factory was found to have failed an environmental assessment by the government as recently as April, but no fines or reprimand had been handed down.
The incident in the eastern province came just a month after authorities in the northeastern city of Dalian agreed to relocate a chemical plant following similar protests.
Zhang Jian, the environmental chief of Jiaxing, said in a Weibo post on Monday that local officials should tighten supervision of big companies to raise environmental standards, not lower them.
Shen, the city's vice mayor, said the area around the factory would be guarded more heavily in the coming days to prevent more riots. The government would also send grass-roots cadres to households to persuade them to be 'rational' when voicing their demands and discontent.