People in eastern China took to the streets to protest against the proposed construction of a petrochemical plant in the latest example of rising discontent over pollution. Photos and videos on weibo showed several hundred demonstrators marching outside the government headquarters of Xicheng district government in Longkou, a coastal city in Shandong province on Tuesday morning. Protesters shouted slogans and held placards reading: “Protecting the environment is everyone’s responsibility”. The protest came less than one week after local authorities announced they were seeking public opinions over the plan to build the Yulong Petrochemical Base. A local resident, who wanted to be identified only by her surname Chen, said the protesters were driven by environmental concerns and that air quality in the area was “quite bad”. “In the past the goal [of building such plants] was to earn money, but how much money can buy us good health?” she asked. In a lengthy post, a blogger from Longkou wrote: “Why do we have to build a petrochemical plant in Xicheng district? Is it because most of the government officials live in the east side of the city?” A statement posted on the city government’s official Weibo microblog on Tuesday morning said the environmental assessment on the plant would stop immediately. Pollution fears at factory in northern China ‘ignored by authorities for years’, say residents The government denied claims construction had already started, and pledged to step up efforts against pollution. Chen said the government statement was unconvincing, and she would stand firmly against the project unless it was cancelled. “Stopping the assessment is not equal with stopping the project,” she said. According to official information, the project, once approved, would cover an area of more than 50 sq km and produce 40 million tonnes of refined oil as well as other petrochemical products including the controversial paraxylene (PX), a chemical essential to the process of manufacturing plastic bottles and polyester clothing, but that can be dangerous if inhaled or ingested. The construction of petrochemical plants, especially those involving PX, has long been seen as a threat to the environment and often triggers protests on the mainland, even though state-owned media argue that petrochemical products such as PX are not harmful to health. In one high-profile case, the local government called off plans for a petrochemical plant in Maoming, Guangdong province, in 2014 after thousands of protesters staged a days-long rally on the streets.