Last week, when tropical storm Muifa rolled into town, Dalian residents watched anxiously as high waves breached a tidal wall protecting a new paraxylene (PX) chemical plant located only 20km from the city center.
Though no leaks were reported and the plant appeared to be safe, residents voiced their concerns about the proximity of the toxic plant to the city and worried about future environmental disasters with the Dalian oil spill remaining fresh in their minds.
Yesterday, those concerns came out in a big way as 10-20,000 residents protested outside of government offices in the aptly named People’s Square demanding that the plant be shut down and relocated further away.
Hundreds of photos of the event have spread across the web overnight, showing people carrying signs with slogans like “PX out of Dalian,” wearing pre-made t-shirts plastered with ticking time bombs, and even wearing gas masks.
The rally was organized through Weibo, despite the best efforts of the government to prevent the microblogging site from being used as a protest platform. The call came out through messages urging people to go for a stroll in People’s Square on Sunday morning, Reuter’s reported.
The Dalian government’s response to the protest came when two top officials, Communist Party of China chief Tang Jun and Mayor Li Wancai, climbed atop a police van promising that the plant would be closed and relocated. Amid the massive cheers and applause, though, dissenting voices still wanted to know when the plant would close — demanding immediate action.
Videos of that exchange are appearing all over YouTube, watch below.