Intensification of environmentalist protests prompted police from the Chinese city of Shanghai to forcefully evacuate a part of the protesters on Saturday morning, as the city’s middle and even high class citizens oppose the alleged construction of a new chemical plant in the Jinshan district.
Rumors began circulating throughout the district that a petrochemical plant would be built in their neighborhood. This caused concern amongst many of the over industrialized city’s inhabitants, with it already being one of the most polluted cities in the world. The concern was not dismissed even when local authorities have deemed the rumor to be untrue, and a rally was called for Saturday morning outside of Shanghai’s municipal government in the city’s centre.
However, police forces and SWAT teams were expecting them in front of the venue, fencing the area off and then forcing the protesters onto buses with which they were driven away from downtown Shanghai to an unknown destination. Neither Shanghai municipality nor its police forced issued any statements regarding the incident.
The rumors on which the protest was based said that a plant which will use and produce paraxylene will be built in the Jinshan industrial area. Paraxylene is used in the production of plastics and different fibers, and is quite hazardous when inhaled causing throat and nose irritation and eye sores.
The protests initially started outside of Jinshan’s district government, with some residents claiming that they were ongoing for about a week, despite the fact that district authorities dismissed the rumor regarding the new plant on Monday.
Sensing the danger of the protests spreading, the municipal government repeated the assurances and it also declared cessation of any environmental assesments for Jinshan district – a step needed when allowing the construction of new factories. It instead said that it will focus its attention towards lowering the city’s pollution level.
Reuters correspondents from the Jinshan protests reported that district residents marched through the city while chanting against the possible factory. The district protests were supervised by the police but went on peacefully, with no attempt at a forceful intervention by either side.
They also said that many residents at the protest cited distrust with the city’s government as the reason for continuing the protests despite assurance from the authorities. Others were concerned for the future of their children if pollution levels were to rise even more.China is the world’s largest paralyxene producer, with the substance being a vital part of its plastics and textile industries.
Image Source: US News