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New protest escalates over power plant

Haimen reports rioting just as Wukan dispute is settled

  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • China
  • December 22, 2011
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A second communal uprising has escalated in southern Guangdong province just as a week-long village protest 115 kilometers away winds down.

Residents from the coastal town of Haimen reportedly stormed government buildings on Tuesday in protest against a power plant which they claim is damaging their health and the construction of another coal-fired plant.

A large number of protesters were also reportedly involved in a stand-off with riot police in a public square, while others were blocking the Shenshan expressway leading into the town of around 130,000 people.

Clashes between residents and police have also been reported, with protesters saying a 15-year-old boy has been killed – a claim that has been denied by local authorities who also said construction on the second plant has been suspended.

The protest comes as local Communist party chiefs made rare concessions to protesters in the village of Wukan, who had been demonstrating against what the claimed were illegal land grabs and the death of a protester while in police custody after an earlier protest in September.

After a meeting yesterday, provincial officials promised the villagers they would release three arrested protesters, return the dead body of the villager who died in custody and re-examine the cause of his death.

They also reassured village leaders that there would be no retribution in response to their protest and told them that two officials have also been sacked for allegedly violating laws regulating the selling of land to property developers.

Despite the settlement, a Church source in Shantou diocese, which covers Wukan and Haimen, said he fears for the villagers’ futures.

“This is China. Once officials retaliate by working on every procedure according to the rules, it means there will be no more development for the village in future,” he said.

“The government will also make things difficult for the families of protestors, especially those who work as civil servants,” he said.

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