Anti-Pollution Rioters Clash with Police in China


Photo via WizBangBlue

There's been much reportage done on the rapidly declining state of the environment in China--badly contaminated lakes, heavily polluted air, dangerous sewage runoff, the list goes on. It was only a matter of time before the Chinese people spoke up about it--and spoke up loudly. Protests have sprung up across the country--the latest is against a chemical plant and tannery that are leading to higher rates of cancer in the nearby community and an unbearable stench in the air. And in the last three weeks, three of these protests have erupted into violent clashes--involving hostage-taking and 2,000 riot police.The Guardian reports on the most recent incident:

China's pollution controls have failed to keep pace with economic development, the country's environment minister has admitted as details emerged of another riot sparked by fears of industrial contamination. In at least the third clash in as many weeks, 2,000 riot police fired tear gas and warning shots during a violent confrontation with anti-pollution protesters near an industrial plant in Quanzhou, Fujian Province.

As the plant has continued polluting, and the smell has continued worsening, demonstrators have taken more desperate measures: they've tried to sabotage the plant, hurled rocks, overturned cars, allegedly beaten 4 workers at the chemical plant, and took at least one official hostage.

And all this is far from an isolated incident: this clash "follows recent disturbances in Shaanxi and Hunan provinces, which has led to the arrest of 15 people, say authorities. That unrest had been sparked by the lead poisoning of more than 2,000 children."

Though many may disagree with their tactics, they've undoubtedly (finally) gotten the attention of China's environmental protection minister, Zhou Shengxian. He admitted publicly that environmental standards are suffering, and that more needs to be done to assuage residents' fears and health concerns. "Environmental quality is not satisfactory and environmental protection work is arduous," he said. Time will tell if it will make any difference.

More on China's Pollution Problems:
China Pollution Tax Considered (Again)
Pollution Estimated To Cause 750000 Premature Deaths Each Year In China

Tags: China | Pollution

Best of TreeHugger