Chinese city bans protests against chemical refinery

Chinese city bans protests against chemical refinery

BEIJING - Reuters
Chinese city bans protests against chemical refinery

Police stand guard as demonstrators protest against a chemical plant. AFP photo

The government of the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming May 28 banned residents from protesting next week against planned chemical production at a refinery, the ban coinciding with the opening of an important trade fair.

An increasingly affluent urban population has begun to object to a China’s policy of growth at all costs, which has fuelled the economy for three decades, with the environment emerging as a focus of concern and protests.

There have already been two large protests in Kunming against the production of paraxylene (PX), a chemical used in making fabrics and plastic bottles, at the planned plant.

Organisers have taken to the internet to call for the next protest on June 6.

The government of Yunnan’s provincial capital is concerned protests could overshadow the opening of the first China-South Asia Expo, which senior Chinese leaders are expected to attend.

In a statement on one of its microblogs, the Kunming government described the June 6-10 expo as “an important task handed to Kunming and Yunnan by the Communist Party and State Council”.

“During the expo, it is banned to use the internet, microblogs, online chatting systems, text messages or similar methods to incite, plan or to attend illegal gatherings, demonstrations or protests to disturb the expo or social order,” the statement said.

“It is forbidden to spread rumours or messages designed to cause terror,” it said, warning that those who violated the rules would be “severely punished”.

Chinese media have said Kunming authorities have begun demanding people show identity cards before buying face masks.