Four teenagers, two males and two females, were killed, dozens injured during attacks on protesters by club wielding police on Sunday as hundreds of residents in Maoming, Guangdong rallied to protest a PX (paraxylene) project. Unconfirmed reports put the number of dead over 10.
The latest update from Maoming protest: the paramilitary police have sealed highways. All the media vans were blocked from entering the city. The city is tightly sealed. We Maoming people now have no one to reply upon but ourselves. All thats left now is a road to death. For our offspring, it is all worth it. The people of Maoming will outnumber the police. We have to save ourselves and kick the PX project out of Maoming.
Photos uploaded to Weibo by several netizens show several cars overturned and set on fire. Protesters say the PX project site should be moved out of the city’s downtown core and located beyond the city center’s 100 kilometre radius.
The protesters were demonstrating against the addition of a 3.5 billion yuan (HK$4.4 billion) paraxylene (PX) plant to the city’s existing petrochemical operations jointly run by the local government and state-owned oil giant Sinopec. A local spokesman for Sinopec, Asia’s biggest refiner, could not be reached by phone and email on Monday morning. PX hazards: a stimulating effect on the respiratory tract, there is a high concentration of inhaled anesthetic effects, long-term inhalation can lead to neurasthenia, infertility and on contact cause dermatitis skin cancer.
The photos, many of which have since been deleted from Sina Weibo, showed hundreds of people gathering in the early hours of Sunday, holding banners and eventually marching through the city in protest of the new plant.
Video Chronicle tells the real story of events as they unfolded. *Graphic*
The local government had warned against the demonstration on Sunday morning, calling it “illegal” in a statement on the municipal government website.
— leungfaye (@leungfaye) March 31, 2014
Two eyewitnesses who attended the protest said the number of participants rose from several hundred to more than a thousand once the march began. Police and demonstrators clashed around 3pm, one person said.
At least one police van is seen on fire in some of the photos shared online.
On Monday, the Maoming Daily, a municipal government mouthpiece, carried a lengthy article on its front-page praising the PX project, describing paraxylene as “an important element for a happy life”.
A series of street protests against petrochemical plants have occurred in several Chinese cities in recent years after two previous popular campaigns proved successful in dissuading officials from approving the highly controversial petrochemical plants.
Plans for building PX-projects were shelved in Xiamen, Fujian province in 2007 and in Dalian, Liaoning province four years later, after locals took to the streets in massive marches, fearing that pollution from the plants could yield devastating heath hazards.