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Project in China on hold after protests

A wave of protest by residents of a coastal city in eastern China has forced authorities to suspend the construction of a paper mill’s pipeline which was to carry industrial waste from the project and dump it into the sea.

world Updated: Jul 29, 2012 00:54 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A wave of protests by residents of a coastal city in eastern China has forced authorities to suspend the construction of a paper mill’s pipeline which was to carry industrial waste from the project and dump it into the sea.

Protests at Qidong, near Shanghai, is the latest incident where residents have forced authorities to suspend an industrial project, which triggered fears of large-scale pollution.

Earlier this month the government was forced to suspend a 1.6 billion dollar copper refinery project in southwest China’s Sichuan area which residents feared would harm the environment and affect the health of locals.

In the latest case, initial online protests from the residents of Qidong turned violent on Saturday morning after thousands stormed a government building, ransacking it and damaging official vehicles.

The Qidong government has announced that it has suspended the construction of a Japanese paper mills’s pipeline amid raging protest.

The state media said that Qidong residents had petitioned against the construction on the grounds that it would pollute the nearby Lusi Fishery, and plans for a protest had prompted the response from the city government, the website of the People's Daily reported.

There were also online claims that sewage from the paper mill in Jiangsu Province could pollute Shanghai's Qingcaosha Reservoir at the mouth of the Yangtze River.

State media reported that Zhang Jianxin, Qidong's vice mayor, announced that the project had been suspended for further evaluation.

"The government noticed our citizens have paid high attention to the project that reflected your good wishes to the development and environment of the homeland," Zhang said when reading "a letter to citizens" in a video posted on the city government's website.

He also issued a warning to the protesters. Zhang asked Qidong citizens not to "support, participate or watch" any illegal marches or demonstrations. Police would severely punish anyone who disrupted social order, he said.

Citizens clearly didn't heed the warning. Agencies reported that a group of demonstrators broke into the Qidong government building and ransacked it.

"The angry mob smashed computers, damaged furniture and threw out documents from the windows. They also reportedly looted items of value, including bottles of liquor and cartons of cigarettes – which Chinese officials often receive as bribes," reports said.

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