Chinese protesters force plant shutdown

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The Independent Online

Authorities in north-eastern China ordered a petrochemical plant to be shut down immediately yesterday after thousands of people demonstrated to demand the relocation of the factory, which is at the centre of a toxic-spill scare.

Demonstrators in the port city of Dalian, in Liaoning province, faced down a wall of riot police in front of the municipal government office, according to eyewitness accounts. Minor scuffles broke out, although there was no report of injuries among the 12,000 protesters, the state news agency Xinhua said.

The authorities also pledged to relocate the Fujia Chemical Plant, Xinhua said, citing a statement from the municipal committee of the Communist Party. The report did not say where the plant was likely to move to.

After the announcement, some of the protesters were seen leaving a packed public square in front of the city government offices and main urban streets.

The protests came after fears that a toxic petrochemical used in polyester could have leaked after heavy storms hit the manufacturing plant. The outpouring of public anger is emblematic of the rising public discontent facing Chinese leaders.