44 in­ves­ti­gated af­ter Maom­ing petro­chem­i­cal plant protest

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou zheng­caix­iong@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Po­lice have in­ves­ti­gated 44 people sus­pected of vi­o­lat­ing laws and reg­u­la­tions dur­ing a protest against the con­struc­tion of a petro­chem­i­cal project in Maom­ing, Guang­dong prov­ince.

Eigh­teen have been de­tained for fur­ther crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and 26 have re­ceived ad­min­is­tra­tive pun­ish­ment, ac­cord­ing to Zhou Peizhou, Maom­ing’s deputy po­lice chief.

“They have been de­tained and pun­ished for dis­turb­ing so­cial and pub­lic or­der,” Zhou told a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Zhou re­futed ru­mors that 15 people were killed and more than 300 oth­ers were in­jured dur­ing a po­lice oper­a­tion to dis­perse the pro­test­ers.

Liang Luoyue, deputy mayor of Maom­ing, said the protest started on Sun­day morn­ing when around 1,000 people ral­lied to protest against con­struc­tion of a paraxy­lene project.

The pro­test­ers then threw stones, eggs and wa­ter bot­tles at po­lice.

“At around 8 pm on Sun­day, about 40 people il­le­gally stopped two cars, over­turn­ing one of the ve­hi­cles, and beat­ing po­lice of­fi­cers who tried to stop them,” Liang said.

“Af­ter they were dis­persed by po­lice, the sus­pects then be­gan de­stroy­ing bill­boards and win­dows of shops along lo­cal streets and later burned a po­lice car, which was on pa­trol at about 10 pm.

“The il­le­gal and in­ten­tional de­struc­tion of pub­lic property has vi­o­lated laws and reg­u­la­tions and is a pub­lic or­der of­fense.”

Or­der was re­stored af­ter of­fi­cials met the pro­test­ers on Mon­day and Tues­day.

Liang met pro­test­ers in the city govern­ment build­ing on Tues­day. He lis­tened to their sug­ges­tions for the project and an­swered their ques­tions.

The pro­test­ers fear con­struc­tion of the PX project will dam­age the en­vi­ron­ment and harm people’s health.

Liang promised not to start con­struc­tion of the petro­chem­i­cal project un­til an agree­ment has been reached with lo­cal res­i­dents.

Liang Bo, an of­fi­cial with Maom­ing health and fam­ily plan­ning bureau, said 15 people, in­clud­ing four po­lice of­fi­cers, were sent to hos­pi­tals for treat­ment af­ter the protests.

“Eight of them have been dis­charged,” Liang Bo said.

The pro­posed 3.5 bil­lion yuan ($569 mil­lion) PX project would be an ad­di­tion to the city’s petro­chem­i­cal op­er­a­tions jointly run by the lo­cal govern­ment and State-owned oil gi­ant Sinopec.

Maom­ing, a coastal city, is a ma­jor petro­chem­i­cal pro­duc­tion base in Guang­dong.

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