China scraps factory plan after protests

July 4, 2012
Chinese riot police stand guard along a street in the small city of Shifang following protests/AFP

, BEIJING, Jul 4 – Chinese authorities have scrapped plans to build a metals plant following violent protests by local residents who are concerned about the planned factory’s environmental impact.

“The decision has been made to halt construction of the project,” Li Chengjing, Communist Party head of Shifang city where the factory was to be built, said in a statement on Tuesday night.

“Shifang from this day forward will not build this project.”

Li’s statement came after thousands of people in Shifang clashed with police on Monday and Tuesday as they protested against the plant, which was slated to produce heavy metals.

The demonstration highlighted growing concerns among the Chinese public who are increasingly aghast at the impact of the country’s historic economic development on the environment.

Protests similar to the one in Shifang are reported regularly, although cases of protesters achieving victories are rare.

In one of the few such wins, local authorities in the northeastern city of Dalian shut down a chemical plant in August last year after thousands of people took to the streets in protest over fears it would belch out carcinogens.

In his statement on Tuesday, Li said the project would have brought Shifang many jobs and economic benefits, but acknowledged the strong public opposition and his government’s failure to fully explain its benefits.

He also stressed that his government would “resolutely maintain social stability” and warned citizens against further protests.

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