Chinese Protests Shut Down Copper Plant Construction
Thousands of Chinese protesters shut down the construction of a molybdenum copper plant in the Sichuan province yesterday over environmental concerns.
Newser reports that protesters gathered over concern for the environmental fallout from the plant, fearing toxic byproducts like sulfur odium dioxide and overall harm to the local environment.
According to the Guardian, both police and protesters were injured in the clash. Protesters threw bricks at government buildings and according to some accounts overturned police cars, while police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. The Shifang city government claims that 13 protesters were injured.
The BBC quotes a Shifang police response to the protest: “Anyone who has incited, planned or organised illegal gatherings, protest marches or demonstrations or those who have engaged in smashing and looting… will be punished severely,” and police also warned against internet- or text message-organized “illegal gatherings.”
Despite the ostensibly severe reaction from the police, the protest actually worked. The protesters began to congregate Sunday night; one police officer reported to the Global Times that “several thousand” took part, while the South China Morning Post claimed the protesters numbered in the tens of thousands. By nightfall on Monday construction had ceased, and the city government released a statement online that construction would not resume until “the majority of people support it.” The government statement went on to say that “work teams will be sent to all communities and schools to listen to people’s opinions and suggestions.”
According to one witness, “the whole thing started with students. Shifang was to build something harmful for future generations, so the people felt very uncomfortable about it.”