BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities detained 16 fishermen after hundreds of people protested the construction of a sea marina in a southern Chinese port city over the weekend.
Police in the city of Beihai said Sunday that they detained four people on Thursday and another 12 people on Friday. They said they also dismissed nearly 200 protesters who shouted slogans and held up banners on Saturday.
The fishermen are upset that the new marina would take up a public beach that has long been used for their trade, according to a local resident who only gave her last name, Pan.
Mass incidents such as protests of public projects are on the rise in China, where members of the public are excluded from the decision-making process for public policies but hope street protests can be an effective way to make their voices heard and to put pressure on local authorities.
Local governments are increasingly resorting to force to dismiss demonstrations and detain protesters on the ground of disturbing public order. Past demonstrations have turned violent.
In a written statement, Beihai police said nearly 30 people on Thursday boarded two fishing boats to storm the construction area and used bamboo poles and burning incense to attack maritime and police officers.
About 70 people gathered around a government office after police detained four people, the statement said, and in the evening, about 50 elderly women and spectators gathered around a local police station and used beddings to block the entrance to the station.
The crowd was dismissed around 1 a.m. Friday, but later a local maritime rescue station was barricaded with wood fences and old tires, the statement said.
About 80 people — mainly middle-aged and elderly women — paraded down local streets, while holding up banners and shouting slogans, the police said.
The protesters blocked traffic and stormed a local government office before the police forcibly took away 62 people, the police said. Twelve of them were later formally detained, while the rest were warned but released, the police said.
Nearly 200 people gathered in a public square to protest on Saturday but the crowd was dismissed by police in the afternoon, the police said.