China Environmental Protests Gather Force Online


China Environmental Protests Gather Force Online

Hundreds of residents of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou
took to the streets on Monday to protest plans to build a trash
incinerator in their neighborhood. In front of the municipal headquarters for one of China’s largest
cities, it was an unusually prominent place for a civic demonstration. And rarely has a local Chinese demonstration been so
conspicuous online, where activists posted photos and comments about
events as they unfolded. Those messages were then relayed to a broader
audience on social networking sites like Twitter, despite its block by
China’s web censors. While the demonstration was local in nature, the
Guangzhou protesters’ ability to spread their message so broadly will
likely unnerve a government that fears organized dissent.

The protesters gathered Monday morning to voice their anger over plans
to build an incinerator to deal with the rising amounts of trash
produced by Guangzhou’s Panyu district, whose 2.5 million residents
are expected to generate 2,200 tons of garbage a day by next year, a
local official told the state-run China Daily newspaper. A site for an
incinerator to replace two overtaxed landfills was proposed in 2006,
but residents say they weren’t informed about the plans until this
fall. In one survey cited by China Daily, 92% of residents thought the
incinerator would harm their health, and 97% were opposed to its
construction.

Share