Several hundred Chinese police officers have dispersed more than a thousand demonstrators in the eastern city of Ningbo who had staged sometimes violent protests against the planned expansion of a petrochemical plant.
The unrest poses a major challenge to authorities in Beijing just a fortnight before China’s leadership changes hands in its once-in-a-decade power transition.
The protesters are angry about plans to enlarge a chemical plant run by a subsidiary of the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation.
In particular, they are focusing on the production of the chemical paraxylene – or more simply PX – which the demonstrators claim is carcinogenic.
Environmental protests are tolerated by authorities more than those with political motivation.
On Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, discussion of the protests was not blocked.