HONG KONG Dec 21 A Chinese official
denied on Wednesday reports of deaths during clashes in Haimen
town in southern China between police and residents protesting
against a plan to build a coal-fired power plant.
Thousands of angry residents in the town, part of Shantou
city in Guangdong province, surrounded a government building and
blocked an expressway on Tuesday, Chinese media reported. Online
accounts of the incident had claimed that two people had died.
"There are injuries but we have not heard of deaths," a
Shantou government official told Reuters in a telephone
interview. He declined to give his name or other information.
A separate dispute in Guangdong province, sparked by anger
over seized land in Wukan village and a suspicious death of a
protest organiser, appeared to be winding down on Wednesday
after a standoff simmered there for more than a week.
Although the two disputes were not related, a resident of
Haimen told a Hong Kong newspaper people there had been closely
following the Wukan protest.
Protesters dispersed in Haimen late on Tuesday after the
government said it would suspend construction of the power
station, the South China Morning Post reported.
There was no sign of protests on Wednesday, according to a
clerk at a hotel near Haimen.
Students in the town were stopped from leaving schools until
late on Tuesday as officials were worried they would join the
protesters, the Post quoted Haimen resident Zheng Yanping as
"We call on the central government to help us and allow
overseas media to report what's happened because local media
won't cover our story," Zheng said.
Thousands of protests occur each year in Chinese villages
and towns over a range of issues including pollution, corruption
and land grabs.
Zheng said the Wukan protesters had set an example.
"The people of Wukan are a good model. People who fight
together can put pressure on the authorities to negotiate, said
Wukan villagers, whose anger was exacerbated by the death in
custody of an activist, had driven off officials and police as
part of their protest.
On Wednesday, government officials offered compromises that
a Wukan protest organiser signaled would be acceptable.
(Reporting by Alison Leung and Sisi Tang; Editing by Ken Willis
and Brian Rhoads)