As China Spews Pollution, Villagers Rise Up – Mark Magnier

In recent days, a number of Western media reports have exposed instances of industrial pollution in China. Here is another, from the Los Angeles Times, which focuses on how villagers are fighting back against environmental degradation:

The tents are gone, the protesters have dispersed and the police have retreated to the shadows. But villagers remain in jail, local women are still tending deformed babies, and rage burns beneath the surface.

With the spread of pollution-related unrest, a contagious source of instability in the world’s most populous country, Huashui stands out as a benchmark more than a year after farmers drew a line in the once-fertile earth.

Not only was it one of the largest known protests, with an estimated 10,000 police officers and desperate villagers battling in April 2005, but it also proved a rare case in which citizen outrage prevailed over deeply vested interests. A few months ago, the last of the area’s 13 poison-spewing factories was shuttered. [Full text]

For more background on the Huashui protests, see “The story of the Dongyang riot” from China Elections and Governance, and a Dutch journalist’s account of the protests, translated via China Herald. Read previous CDT posts on grassroots efforts to battle pollution.

[Also of note, both Mark Magnier in this piece and Jim Yardley in his article on water pollution in Sugai for the New York Times report encounters with police during their investigations.]

September 6, 2006 8:33 PM
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Categories: Society