Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Video - Chinese eco-protesters block major road

CHINESE protesters against a coal-powered power station have blocked a main road and defied riot police.

Reuters reports that the situation seems to have escalated, with residents smashing cars and hurling bricks even though officials sought to calm tempers by suspending the unpopular plan.

Angry crowds smashed and overturned police cars and riot police fired teargas in Haimen town in Shantou city on Wednesday, the second day of the unrest, Hong Kong newspapers reported.

Residents of Haimen, furious with plans to build a coal-fired power plant, took to the streets , surrounding a government building and blocking an expressway.

Officials agreed to suspend the project this week, but residents refused to back down, demanding the plan be scrapped.

Outside a large and closed petrol station near a highway into Haimen, about 100 men on motorbikes watched a wall of riot police armed with batons and shields, blocking the highway.

"What place in the world builds two power plants within one kilometre?" said one of the Haimen residents, who was surnamed Cai, as he watched the riot police.

"The factories are hazardous to our health. Our fish are dying and there are so many people who've got cancer , " he added.

"We thought of protesting outside the government office but we know none of them has listened to us. So we had no choice but to block the highway. The police beat up so many of the protesters in the past two days."

At one point, Haimen residents screamed and surged forward when a riot policeman, waving his baton in the air, charged towards a man on a motorcycle who had been riding towards the police blockade on the highway.

State news agency Xinhua said several hundred people had protested on a highway on Wednesday. According to Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper, more than 1,000 residents gathered at a toll gate to confront hundreds of riot police.

Witnesses said police fired four rounds of teargas and beat up protesters, who do not want another power plant when existing power facilities there were already polluting air and seawater and had greatly reduced their catch at sea, the report added.

At least three protesters were hit and arrested.

Adds Reuters: "People in China are increasingly unwilling to accept the relentless speed of urbanisation and industrialisation and the impact on the environment and health.

"Protests are also often held over corruption, wages and land seizures, that officials justify in the name of development.

"Residents of Wukan village, also in Guangdong, agreed to end a 10-day standoff with authorities over a land dispute on Wednesday."

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