BEIJING, April 1 A city in southern China which
has been the site of violent protests against a proposed
chemical plant said it will not go ahead with the project if a
majority of residents object to it, as authorities seek to head
off more unrest.
Photos posted on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog
service, have showed hundreds of demonstrators marching along
the streets over the past two days, an overturned car in flames
and protesters laying bloodied on the road.
Others have showed lines of paramilitary police marching in
In a statement posted late on Monday on its official Weibo
account, the government of Maoming, in the wealthy coastal
province of Guangdong, said the project was still far from being
"If the majority of people are against it, the city
government won't make a decision contrary to public opinion," it
said. "Would the majority of residents rationally express their
opinions to jointly maintain social stability."
The city has previously called the protests a "grave
violation" by criminals causing chaos.
The images of violence - which could not be independently
verified by have caused an outcry on Chinese social
media, though many were later removed from the site by censors.
Maoming residents have been protesting the production of
paraxylene, a chemical used to make fabrics and plastic bottles
at a plant run by the local government and state-owned Sinopec
Corp, China's biggest refiner.
The government has not announced any casualties from the
The Global Times, a popular tabloid published by the ruling
Communist Party's official People's Daily, said protests
continued on Monday, and that police had used tear gas to
It added in an editorial on Tuesday that the government had
to break the "vicious spiral" of public opposition to PX plants,
which were needed to lessen Chinese reliance on imports.
"The approval and initiation of a PX plant must be
transparent," the editorial said.
"Local governments should not rescind chemical programmes
once there is opposition or sabotage to the rule of law. They
instead need to shoulder the national interest, leading the
public to change their irrational attitude."
The eastern city of Ningbo suspended a petrochemical project
after days of demonstrations in November 2012, and protests
forced the suspension of a paraxylene plant in the northeastern
city of Dalian the year before. A similar demonstration took
place in the southern city of Kunming last year.
Choking smog blankets many Chinese cities, and environmental
degradation, the cost of the country's breakneck economic
growth, has earned the ire of an increasingly educated and
affluent urban class.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)