After mass citizen protests in China’s Qingyuan City, Guangdong Province, government officials vowed on Wednesday to cancel plans for a waste incinerator plant.
Here’s the story, reproduced from Radio Free Asia:
Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong vowed on Wednesday to cancel plans for a waste incinerator plant near Qingyuan city, as local people celebrated with firecrackers following several days of mass protests in the area.
The move followed continuing clashes between angry local residents and riot police, who fired tear gas into the crowd and rounded up protesters en masse.
“It has just been on the news,” a resident of Feilaixia township, where businesses have been shuttered for several days and schoolchildren have ditched class to join the protests, told RFA.
“It won’t be built in Shili village [near Feilaixia] now, although they haven’t decided where they will build it yet,” the resident, who gave only her surname Zhao, said. “All the government said was that it won’t be in Feilaixia.”
A second Feilaixia resident surnamed Cai said some 10,000 people were gathered outside the township government buildings in Feilaixia when the city government made its announcement earlier on Wednesday, with many businesses still closed and many students joining the demonstrations.
Local sources said there is still a strong police presence in the town, with more than 1,000 riot police and large numbers of “unidentified personnel” helping them.
They said the government had been forced to call in police reinforcements from elsewhere in the province.
“They sent in the riot police, some from Shenzhen, others from Dongguan, and the police started beating people up first,” an eyewitness to recent clashes told RFA. “Then the clashes escalated, and a lot of people got injured and more than a hundred were detained.”
He said teargas was also fired during the clashes on Tuesday night.
Repeated calls to the Qingyuan municipal government offices resulted in a busy signal during office hours on Wednesday.
Eyewitnesses said some protesters had set off firecrackers by way of celebrating what many felt was a victory for the town.
But others said they would be watching carefully to see if the authorities backtracked on their promise once normality returned.
No public consultation
A resident surnamed Zhang said the government’s official website still listed the project as a key infrastructure project for Qingyuan city.
He said the protests were sparked in part by a total lack of public consultation or urban planning procedure on the part of the government.
“We wanted to make it clear that this isn’t something that can just be decided in a day; it’s just not going to happen,” Zhang said. “The protests were to let the government know what local people think about that.”
“When I was at the demonstration yesterday evening, about 10,000 people had turned out, and police fired tear gas; that had already happened when I got there,” he said.
“Then, all hell broke loose and the police started detaining people, and penned them all into the sports stadium.”
He said the latest clashes had continued through the night.
Cai said the protests, which had brought tens of thousands of people onto the town’s streets on Tuesday night, were likely now over for the time being.
“We’re done protesting now,” Cai said. “We’ve called it a day, and we won’t care as long as the government doesn’t build it here in Qingyuan.”
“But people here won’t stand for it if they do.”
However, a resident surnamed Hong said very little news of the protests had gotten to the outside world after the authorities pulled the plug on local internet access.
“That’s what they always do: they crack down, they won’t allow demonstrations, and then they stop any information getting out,” he said.
Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Ding Wenqi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
Photo Credit: Yale360.