Maoming PX protests spread to Guangzhou

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-2 0:53:01

Protests against paraxylene (PX) project in Maoming, Guangdong Province continued into a third day Tuesday despite local government pledges to conduct a public consultation before giving the project a green light. 

The protests also spread to Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, claimed local demonstrators, who uploaded pictures to social media, although there has been no confirmation from local authorities.

Around 1,000 protesters took to the streets in Maoming around 5 pm on Tuesday although the crowd dispersed peacefully shortly after. Some protesters lingered in the area, several witnesses told the Global Times. There was no repeat of the scuffles that marred earlier protests when some threw eggs and water bottles at police.

However, Maoming police released a stark warning Tuesday, saying that some people have violated the law when they damaged public facilities and disturbed social order. It also urged the lawbreakers to surrender themselves.

In a separate protest in Guangzhou, hundreds rallied near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall around midday Tuesday, close to the Guangdong provincial government building. They wore masks and held posters, but were dispersed by police, according to several of the Maoming protesters. 

Maoming government said late Monday that they would not go ahead with the project if the majority of local residents opposed it. Another notice was released on the official Sina Weibo account of Maoming government on Tuesday, reiterating that there is no timetable for the PX project construction.

"Rumors have affected people's lives and many demand a firm reaction to maintain stability," read the notice, calling on people to express their opinions in accordance with the law. It vowed to severely punish illegal activities that disturb order.

However, some residents reached by the Global Times on Tuesday regard the response as a delaying tactic. Others claimed that a public approval letter, which urges support for the project, has been allegedly circulating in the city since Friday, with many workers and students forced to sign their approval. Copies of the letter have been uploaded on Sina Weibo.

PX is a major raw material for making polyester products. However, since 2007, PX projects planned in Xiamen, Dalian, and Kunming have been shut down after residents protested, as they believed the facilities would threaten the local environment..

Han Zhipeng, a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Guangzhou Committee, told the Global Times that the PX project is simply a trigger of the pent-up discontent among public that is bound to break out sooner or later.

"To maintain stability in Maoming, authorities must on the one hand listen to public opinions on the PX project itself. But more importantly, they should work to solve the anger among people, which would be hard with its poor credibility," Han noted, suggesting Maoming should cancel the project.

Han pointed out that Maoming is no longer suitable for a PX project due to its notorious management on pollution control of local enterprise and long-existing corruption issues, even though the city is known for its petrochemical industry.

Li Tianfu, former deputy director of the local public security bureau, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges of offering and accepting bribes. However, the offense of corruption was dropped, according to China National News

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