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Water-discharge project dropped in China amid mass protests

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A controversial water-discharge project in eastern China was scrapped Saturday after thousands protested to highlight pollution concerns. Environmental issues have been a prime cause of protests in China in recent years.


AP - Authorities in eastern China dropped plans for a water-discharge project Saturday after thousands of protesters angry about pollution took to the streets, in the latest of many such confrontations in a country where three decades of rapid economic expansion have come at an environmental price.

After the early Saturday morning protest in Qidong in Jiangsu province the Qidong government announced on its website that plans to build the water-discharge project had been scrapped.

The official Xinhua News Agency said thousands of residents took to the streets but dispersed after the government announcement. Later Saturday hundreds of police, some in riot gear, arrived in the coastal town just north of Shanghai and took up positions outside the offices.

The water-discharge project was to be part of a paper-making factory proposed by a Japanese company. The government did not say if the plans for the factory have also been permanently dropped.

Chinese have become more outspoken recently about environmentally risky projects in their backyards, with pollution a leading cause of unrest. Earlier this month, Shifang city in the southwest province of Sichuan scrapped plans for a copper plant after thousands of protesters, some of them high school student, clashed with riot police.

The grass-roots protests reflect the balancing act Chinese leaders are performing between maintaining public stability and pushing economic growth, and between local officials who want to attract industry and a public who do not want it in their neighborhoods.

Such protests are especially sensitive in China right now, coming before a once-a-decade change in top leaders set for later this year.


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