NINGBO, China Oct 27 More than a thousand
people gathered in the eastern Chinese port city of Ningbo on
Saturday to protest against plans to expand a petrochemical
plant, highlighting a major challenge for the leadership as it
readies for its once-in-a-decade power transition.
On Friday, protesters overturned a police car and attacked
By early Saturday, protesters, watched over by police,
gathered in a central shopping street in Ningbo, wearing masks
and giving out pamphlets denouncing the expansion of the plant
by a subsidiary of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation
in the district of Zhenhai.
"PX...Get out of Ningbo!" read one placard, in a reference
to the chemical paraxylene, which the protesters said was a
The protests come just two weeks before the Communist Party
holds a congress which opens on Nov. 8 and will unveil the
country's new central leadership.
The past few years has seen a rise in protests over
environmental issues. In July, Chinese officials cancelled an
industrial waste pipeline project after anti-pollution
demonstrators occupied a government office in eastern China.
These protests, which are tolerated more than those driven
by political concerns, pose a conundrum for the authorities
which want to maintain social stability but also present an
image of listening to the needs of ordinary people.
On Weibo, China's version of Twitter, discussion of the
protests was not blocked but some users in Ningbo reported
difficulty in uploading photographs.
The Ningbo Municipal Public Security Bureau Zhenhai branch
released a statement urging protesters to express their demands
in a lawful manner.