Chinese Citizens Thwart Waste Pipeline Project

Once again, Chinese citizens have taken to the streets to
fight successfully for an environmental cause. 

10,000 residents in China’s coastal city of Qidong
(across the Yangtze River from Shanghai) clashed with police last week when
they gathered to demand suspension of new waste pipeline proposed for a local
paper factory run by a venture associated with Japan’s Oji Paper Co.

Various news organizations report that somewhere along
the way, the protests turned violent, resulting in damage to computers and offices in
the local government building and to police vehicles. That prompted the city to call in hundreds of
police officers in riot gear to calm things down.

Days later, local officials pledged publicly to suspend
the pipeline project. 

"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," said Qidong’s vice mayor Zhang Jiansin, in a video posted on the city’s Web site.

Although Oji Paper has said it treats discharge water
before releasing it outside the facility, the protesters alleged that the new
pipeline would pollute the sea near Qidong, a city of 1 million people that is
home to one of China’s four major fishing grounds. Some had also suggested the
discharge could pollute a local reservoir.

The incident is the latest example of confrontations over
the environmental impact of new industrial projects in China, as the nation experiences the growing pains of being the world’s second largest economy.

Last year, protesters succeeded in closing a chemical
factory in Dalian in northeast China. In June, thousands gathered to protest
the construction of a $1.6 billion molybdenum copper plant in Shifan, which is
in the southwest. That project has also been suspended.

Willy Wo-Lop Lam, an adjunct professor of history at the
Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Bloomberg that Chinese authorities have
become more willing to respond to protests that are not perceived as

"If a protest is regarded as basically economic and
environmental in nature, they are more willing to strike a deal," he told

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