BEIJING, March 31 Hundreds of protesters in
southern China marched against a chemical plant and
environmental degradation on Sunday in a demonstration that the
Maoming city government called a "grave violation" by criminals
Photos posted on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog
service, showed hundreds of demonstrators marching along the
streets, an overturned car in flames and protesters laying
bloodied on the road. Others showed lines of paramilitary police
marching in formation.
The images of violence - which could not be independently
verified by caused an outcry on Chinese social media,
although many were later removed from the site by censors.
Residents of Maoming, in Guangdong province, were 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.
Some of the online photos show demonstrators carrying signs
calling for the chemical plant to "get out of Maoming".
In a statement published on Sunday, the Maoming city
government called the demonstration a "grave violation" of the
law that "seriously affects the social order".
The city government said on Monday morning that some
demonstrators had hurled bottles and rocks after 10:30 pm Sunday
evening (1430 GMT), prompting the police to react.
No one was killed, the government said, without noting
whether anyone was hurt.
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 Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Tom Hogue)