Chinese police hunt for protesters after waste plant clash

Reuters News
Posted: May 12, 2014 12:18 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in eastern China are hunting for protesters who unleashed violence at the weekend in a campaign against a huge waste incinerator, leading to clashes with the police, state media reported on Monday.

Choking smog blankets many Chinese cities and the environmental degradation resulting from the country's breakneck economic growth is angering its increasingly well-educated and affluent population.

The demonstrations, which have run for more than two weeks, turned violent on Saturday, with hundreds of police descending on to the streets of Yuhang, close to the tourist city of Hangzhou.

At least 10 protesters and 29 policemen were injured, more than 30 cars were overturned, two police cars set on fire and four more smashed up, according to state media.

The government says it will shelve plans to build the plant if it does not have popular support.

Two suspects involved in the violence had already turned themselves in, the official China Daily said, adding that police were urging others to surrender.

Nobody died in the protests, the Yuhang government said on its website.

Similar protests have also succeeded in getting projects shut down elsewhere in China.

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.

Hangzhou, capital of prosperous Zhejiang province and best known in China as the site of a famous lake, has seen its lustre dimmed in recent years by a recurrent smog problem.

About 90,000 "mass incidents" - a euphemism for protests - occur each year in China, triggered by corruption, pollution, illegal land grabs and other grievances.

Late in March, hundreds of residents of the southern town of Maoming staged protests against plans to build a petrochemical plant there, for fear it would contribute to pollution.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)