BEIJING Oct 28 The eastern Chinese city of
Ningbo has cancelled plans to expand a petrochemical complex
following a week of sometimes violent protests sparked by
concerns over the environmental impact, state media reported on
A spokesman for the Ningbo city government said in a
statement carried by the official China News Service that no
further work would now be done on the project in the district of
Zhenhai pending further "scientific debate".
Protesters were objecting to the construction of a
paraxylene facility at the plant, owned by a subsidiary of the
China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), the
country's biggest oil refiner. They argued that paraxylene, used
in the manufacture of polyester, is a carcinogen.
Plans to build a paraxylene plant in the northeastern port
of Dalian were also shelved in August last year following public
The protests, which had been going on for a week, highlight
a major challenge for the leadership as it readies for its
once-in-a-decade power transition, and which wants to maintain
social stability but also show it is listening to the complaints
of ordinary people.
The China News Service said the port city's mayor and
Communist Party secretary met on Saturday evening with members
of the public to hear objections to the project.
The city's public security bureau said protesters overturned
cars and attacked police on Friday night while reports on Weibo,
China's version of Twitter, reported that police fired tear gas
at the protesters.
More than a thousand people protested again on Saturday but
were dispersed by hundreds of police.
The protests come just two weeks before the Communist Party
holds a congress which opens on Nov. 8 and will unveil a new
The expansion of the Zhenhai petrochemical facility included
15 million tonnes of additional crude oil refining capacity and
involved a total investment of 55.9 billion yuan ($8.95
billion), the China News Service said.