Protesters halt factory expansion in Ningbo

 

Thousands of protesters who marched through an eastern Chinese city today to protest about the expansion of a petrochemical factory won a pledge from the local government that the project would be halted.

The protest, which comes at a sensitive time in China’s political calendar, had swelled over the weekend and led to clashes between citizens and police. The Ningbo city government said yesterday that they and the project’s investor had “resolutely” agreed not to go ahead with the expansion. The factory is a subsidiary of Sinopec, one of the biggest petrochemical companies in the world.

Outside the government offices, where crowds of protesters remained, an official tried to read the statement on a loudspeaker but was drowned out by shouts demanding the mayor step down and demands that authorities release protesters held inside.

Liu Li, 24, a Ningbo resident, said the crowd did not believe the government’s statement. “There is little public confidence in the government,” she said. “Who knows if they are saying this just to make us leave and then keep on doing the project.”

The city government was likely to have been under pressure to defuse the protest, with China’s leadership wanting calm for a party congress next month at which the country’s new leaders will be named.

AP

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