Chinese protest against incinerator plant turns violent

Residents of Lubu take to the streets to demand permanent halt to project they fear will contaminate drinking water

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 11:50pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 11:50pm

Violence erupted on Sunday after more than 10,000 protesters filled the streets of a township in Guangdong to oppose official plans to build an incinerator.

Protesters from a dozen villages in Lubu township under the administration of Zhaoqing demonstrated in Lubu’s main street and a national highway for about six hours, demanding the authorities scrap the plans, fearing the plant, which would also generate power, would contaminate a nearby drinking water source.

Armed with batons, shields, guns and pepper spray, about 4,000 police officers, including paramilitary police and SWAT teams, were deployed to contain the protest, witnesses said.

Footage posted on social media appeared to show police using their batons to hit protesters crouching on the ground or against a wall.

Residents said the confrontation took place at around noon in fields opposite the township government’s offices.

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A 23-year-old protester, who declined to give his full name, said residents wanted to express their opposition through peaceful protest and did not expect the situation to turn violent.

We were in a stand-off with the police for a long time. But then some small-scale conflicts broke out and people become very emotional
Lubu villager

“We were in a stand-off with the police for a long time. But then some small-scale conflicts broke out and people become very emotional,” he said.

“We oppose the incinerator because it will contaminate the Xi River. Lubu is upstream and many people downstream drink its water.”

On Saturday, the Lubu government announced a halt to the project after about 1,000 villagers protested last month last month. But residents said they feared the stop was only temporary, and decided to hold a bigger protest to demand the plan be scrapped permanently.

The propaganda department of Zhaoqing’s Gaoyao district, which oversees Lubu, said in a statement on its microblog that at around noon “some members of the public who are unaware of the truth and were led by some troublemakers tried to storm the Lubu township government and violently attacked some police officers at the scene, injuring some of the officers”.

The department called on attackers to surrender themselves to police and protesters to leave.

A later post by the department said one police officer was injured and 21 people had been taken away to be “educated and investigated”.

Both posts had been deleted by Sunday evening.