Chinese city puts plans for waste-burning plant on hold as protesters take to the streets
Xiantao mayor calls for calm amid ongoing demonstrations over project
The mayor of a city in central China made a rare public address calling for calm after thousands of people protested against a waste incineration project over fears it would damage the environment and residents’ health.
The city of Xiantao, in Hubei province, said on Sunday it would suspend the project but protests continued on Monday. Photos posted on social media, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed dozens of riot police on the march.
“We urge the people of the city to be peaceful and rational, and not to believe rumours, not to organise, join in, or be bystanders at illegal gatherings,” mayor Zhou Wenxia said in the video, which was carried by state media.
About 10,000 people protested in Xiantao on Sunday, state-backed Global Times reported, citing a resident, even after the local government said on Sunday morning it planned to suspend the project.
Another resident told Reuters by phone on Monday that the protests continued, and several protesters were injured in clashes with riot police.
“There are hundreds of police here because of the demonstrations,” the resident said.
In a statement on its official microblog, the city government called on residents to refrain from taking “extreme actions” and spreading rumours.
A city public security official said using text messages and the internet to organise “illegal gatherings” and demonstrations was prohibited, Xinhua reported.
Zhou added that protesters continued to engage in “irrational actions” by gathering in public despite the suspension of the project.
A Xiantao official said that the planned plant’s emissions of dioxin, a toxic compound, would have been in line with European Union standards, state media reported.
Chemical plants have sparked numerous protests across China in recent years, underscoring public fears about choking smog and environmental degradation, which have been costs of the country’s rapid economic growth.
Last June, thousands protested in Jinshan, about 60km from China’s commercial hub of Shanghai, against plans to build a chemical plant.