BEIJING May 4 Hundreds of people took to the
streets of the Chinese city of Kunming on Saturday to protest
against a planned refinery, in the latest show of concern over
the effects of rapid growth on the environment.
China's increasingly affluent urban population has begun to
object to the model of growth at all costs that has fuelled the
economy for three decades, with the environment emerging as a
focus of protests.
Photographs on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, showed a
crowd of protesters. Some people estimated the crowd in the
centre of the southwestern city was up to 2,000-strong.
They were particularly concerned about the planned
production at the plant of paraxylene (PX), a chemical used in
making fabrics and plastic bottles.
"Give me back a beautiful Kunming. We want to survive, we
want health, get PX out of Kunming", read one of several
banners the protesters carried.
A man at the Kunming Public Security Bureau, who described
himself as a member of staff on duty, said he was not aware of
the incident. The city government's emergency department
referred a phone call to another number, which was not answered.
Last November, the eastern city of Ningbo suspended a
petrochemical project after days of street protests. The year
before, big protests against a PX plant in the northeastern city
of Dalian forced the city government to suspend it.
More recently, heavy pollution that has blanketed the
capital Beijing and other cities, as well as scandals over food,
have added to the sense of unease.
China National Petroleum Corp, the country's largest oil and
gas producer and supplier, announced in February that the
National Development and Reform Commission had approved the
refinery project at Anning, just outside Kunming.
The refinery would produce gasoline, diesel, other various
chemicals and fertilisers.
(Reporting by Jonathan Standing, Niu Shuping and Max Duncan;
Editing by Robert Birsel)