BEIJING: China on Sunday saw the first major case of a Jasmine-type revolt driven by Internet postings when several thousand people demonstrated demanding relocation of a chemical plant in the port city of Dalian. The protests resulted in clashes between the protestors and riot police.
The government ordered the closure of the petrochemical plant fearing intensifications of the protests, which the Communist Party of China desperately tries to avoid. The demonstration was prompted by postings on Chinese version of Twitter and other Internet sites expressing fears of toxic chemicals being leaked out of the plant following the recent typhoon.
The official Xinhua news agency said there were 12,000 people in the demonstrations but no one was injured in the “minor scuffles”. The incident came within a few days of another major demonstration in Qianxi town of Guizhou province when thousands of people demonstrated against alleged high handedness of local authorities.
The Dalian unit of the Communist Party pledged to relocate the Fujia Chemical Plant, Xinhua said. The report did not say where the plant is likely to move to.
The government reacted at another level blocking searches for ‘Dalian’ at Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, to check further spread of public resentment.
Dalian residents fled from areas around the Fujia plant, which makes the toxic petrochemical paraxylene (PX), when a storm battered the sea coast last week. The sea waves that burst through a dyke protecting the Fujia plant.
Local authorities later said the dyke had been repaired and no spills were detected. But it failed to convince the people who felt the authorities were hiding something, and PX could have been released. Calls for protests on popular microblogging site Weibo and QQ, an instant messaging system, resulted in the demonstration on Sunday.
Protesters chanted “Fujia, get out!” Xinhua said, adding that there was no sign of the protest dispersing soon.