Hundreds of residents in Maoming, a city in Guangdong province, held demonstrations on Sunday and Monday to oppose a chemical plant. The planned facility was intended to manufacture paraxylene, a petrochemical used to make fabrics and plastic bottles. High levels of PX exposure can irritate the eyes and cause vomiting and respiratory discomfort, according to U.S. government and industry reports. A video of Sunday’s protest, which turned violent, showed dozens of demonstrators being chased through a street by police wearing riot gear and wielding long batons, who then fired tear gas at the fleeing people. The demonstration in Maoming recalls similar protests in October 2012 and August 2011 in the Chinese cities of Ningbo and Dalian, which also targeted PX-producing facilities. Sunday’s clash highlights the challenges faced by local governments, which increasingly must balance economic growth with a public that is increasingly environmentally conscious.


(The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The New York Times, March 31)