Over 1,000 Take To The Streets In China To Protest Oil Refinery
by Corey Hjalseth, KHQ Local News Contributor - email
Photo from NBC
By Ed Flanagan, Producer, NBC News
Over 1,000 chanting demonstrators took to the streets of the southern
Chinese city of Kunming on Thursday to protest plans for a state oil
refinery - the latest sign of popular anger at environmental pollution.
carried signs emblazoned with, "PX… Get out of Kunming," in reference
to paraxylene, a chemical used to make plastic products. If inhaled or
absorbed, paraxylene can damage to the central nervous system.
who spoke to NBC News put the number of demonstrators at around 1,000,
while The Associated Press reported that about 2,500 had attended. There
was no explanation for the discrepancy and Kunming police declined to
The Kunning demonstration - the second in the city this month - comes
amid growing anger against pollution and environmental degradation
brought on by unchecked economic development throughout China.
don't need speedy development. What we need is a healthy and peaceful
country," Kunming resident Liu Yuncheng told The Associated Press. "I
still haven't given birth to a baby. I want to be pregnant and I want a
China National Petroleum Corp's (CNPC) construction of paraxylene-producing petrochemical plants has sparked protests from Ningo to Xiamen. In
the case of Ningbo, thousands of residents clashed with police in
October, eventually prompting officials there to halt construction of an
Protesters in Kunming told NBC News by telephone that they had tried
to march towards city hall, but were stopped by police who formed a
security cordon around them. By mid-afternoon, demonstrators had
filtered through the blocks by using side streets, effectively ending
In Kunming, local government and company officials
have tried to assuage health concerns by assuring residents that the
plant would maintain strict environmental standards, and not necessarily
These assurances did not assuage many residents' fears.
"I don't know if this protest will be effective or not," one
organizer said. "But if the government continues to build this plant,
I'll keep protesting.
Another protester said she had been pulled
in for questioning by local authorities this week for about nine hours.
She did not participate in Thursday's protest.
Officials from CNPC were not available for comment.
According to the South China Morning Post, officials successfully blocked a similar protest
against another proposed CNPC refinery in the provincial capital of
Sichuan province, Chengdu. Government officials announced an earthquake
drill and effectively sealed off a number of landmarks where the rally
had been planned, the newspaper reported.
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