Environmental Dispute: Clash over plant making polyester intermediate turned violent
What started as a peaceful protest against plans to build a p-xylene plant in the southern China city of Maoming turned violent earlier this year when protesters started throwing water bottles and stones at police. Amateur videos showed the demonstration to be far larger than the 80 people the government claimed took part. The protest appears to have had some effect. Not long after the late-March clash, government officials said the polyester intermediate plant, to be built by state-owned oil giant Sinopec, hadn’t been approved and would not go ahead without public support. The March event recalled earlier Chinese protests over plants making p-xylene, a chemical that has come to symbolize the risks associated with chemical production in the country. In late April, China’s state media began a television campaign touting the safety of making the chemical. One report showcased p-xylene facilities operating without apparent public concern just 1.5 miles from Singapore’s business district.