Shifang Plant Cancelled, Protesters Released

The planned copper plant in Sichuan Province over which protesters and riot police clashed earlier this week has been cancelled, and those detained during the confrontation released. From Keith Bradsher at The New York Times: Large and sometimes violent demonstrations against the planned construction of one of the largest copper smelting complexes on earth prompted local officials in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province to continue backpedaling furiously on Wednesday. The local government of Shifang, the planned site of the smelter, announced in a statement that the construction of the $1.6 billion complex had not only been suspended but also permanently canceled. The smelter was supposed to be the centerpiece of a planned economic revitalization of an area devastated by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, through the creation of thousands of construction jobs at a time when the overall Chinese economy is suffering a sharp slowdown. A police official in Shifang said in a telephone interview that everyone detained in the protests had been released. The police acted after a crowd estimated by local residents in the tens of thousands defied the police and assembled Tuesday evening to demand the release of dozens of students jailed in the protests on Sunday and Monday. Suspicion and resentment still linger, however. From Reuters: “People are still waiting to see if the government follows through on its promise not to build the plant,” said the man. “There will be more protests if we are not convinced.” […] Despite the dual concessions, some Chinese called for the punishment of officials responsible for the violent crackdown. An 18-year-old resident told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday the police had beaten protesters the previous night. “What are we going to do about the bastards who used violence on innocent people?” wrote a microblogger. A Global Times editorial defended the need ...
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