Thousands of protesters marched through an eastern Chinese city yesterday, shouting for fellow citizens to join them in demanding that the Chinese government halt the expansion of a petrochemical factory because of pollution fears.
The demonstration in Ningbo City in wealthy Zhejiang Province is the latest this year sparked by fears of health risks from industrial projects, as Chinese whose living standards have improved become more outspoken against environmentally risky projects.
Such protests are exactly what the Chinese leadership does not want ahead of next month’s once-a-decade transition of power, with stability being paramount.
Hundreds of residents headed from a city square toward the offices of the municipal government early yesterday and were stopped by police at the gate, where they shouted for the release of people reportedly detained a day earlier.
Tensions rose after about 200 riot police walked out of the gate, tore down banners that people had hung in trees and grabbed at least three protesters, carrying them into the government compound.
The protesters threw plastic bottles and chanted “Release the people.”
Some protesters marched away from the offices in an apparent effort to round up more support. Hundreds roamed nearby shopping streets. Police diverted traffic to allow them to pass down a main road.
The protests began a few days earlier in the coastal district of Zhenhai, where the petrochemical factory is located. On Saturday, they swelled and spread to the center of Ningbo City, whose officials oversee Zhenhai.
Residents reported that Saturday’s protests involved thousands of people and turned violent after authorities used tear gas and arrested participants.
Authorities said “a few” people disrupted public order by staging sit-ins, unfurling banners, distributing fliers and obstructing roads. Authorities said that the proposed project was under evaluation and that the public was being given opportunities to offer its input.
The crowds in Ningbo are a slice of China’s rising middle class that poses an increasingly boisterous challenge to the country’s incoming leadership: Armed with expensive smartphones, Internet connectivity and higher expectations than the generations before them, their impatience with the government’s customary lack of response is palpable in every fist pump and rendition of the national anthem they sing.
A 30-year-old woman surnamed Wang (王) said officers took her to a police station on Saturday and made her sign a guarantee that she would not participate in any more protests, but she came back yesterday anyway.
Marchers included the elderly and children, as well as some pet poodles. People held up smartphones and tablet computers recording the protest and tried to send information to others through mobile Internet connections.
In a sign that censors were at work, the name “Zhenhai” — the city district where the factory is located — was blocked on China’s popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, and searches for “chemical expansion project” were greeted with the line “Some search results are not shown according to regulations.”
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang