Peasants clash with security forces in new Guangdong anti-pollution protest

Even as villagers at Wukan in China’s Guangdong province announced an agreement to negotiate with authorities and began dismantling their barricades after a 10-day stand-off on Dec. 20, clashes were reported between security forces and thousands of protesting residents at Haimen, an industrial city about 100 kilometers up the coast in Shantou prefecture. The protests were sparked by plans to build a coal-burning power plant in an area where numerous factories have already polluted local waters and harmed the fishing economy. Protesters reportedly surrounded a government building and blocked an expressway before police used tear-gas and batons to clear them. Online accounts of the incident said hundreds were savagely beaten, and that two people were killed. Authorities denied any deaths in the incident. (FT, Reuters, McClatchy, Dec. 21; AGI, Dec. 20)

See our last post on the struggle in Guangdong.

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  1. Victory in Wukan?
    Lin Zuluan, elderly leader of the peasant uprising at Wukan, has been named the new party head of the village. The incumbent, a businessman who headed Wukan for 42 years, was driven out by villagers during the uprising, accused of involvement in the land grabs. Lin was appointed by the party committee of Donghai Township. A new election of the village council is to be held under his watch. Negotiations with local authorities over the land conflict continue.

    Protests escalated to an actual uprising on Dec. 9, when detained community leader Xue Jinbo died in police custody, allegedly after being beaten. For 10 days, the village was in the hands of the protesters, until the Guangdong provincial government intervened on behalf of the villagers, agreeing to talks. Three detained protesters have now been freed, but Xue’s family is still negotiating with authorities for the release of his body. Authorities say he suffered a heart attack, but relatives who saw his body have said it showed signs of torture. They are demanding an official apology as well as the compensation they have already been promised. (Xinhua, AFP, Jan. 15)

  2. China: anti-pollution protesters win a few rounds
    Chinese officials announced cancellation an industrial waste pipeline project July 28 after anti-pollution protesters occupied a government office in Qidong (Jiangsu province), destroying computers and overturning cars. Zhang Guohua, mayor of the nearby city of Nantong, said in a statement the city would terminate the planned pipeline that would have emptied waste water from a Japanese-owned paper factory into the sea near Qidong. (Reuters, July 28)

    The victory follows a similar one in Shifang, Sichuan province, where residents opposed a planned molybdenum copper plant. On July 1, thousands of protesters took to Shifang’s streets. After several days of protests attracted national attention—largely through online video of local police tear-gassing demonstrators—officials agreed to halt the plant’s opening.  (Bloomberg, July 20)