By Huizhong Wu
Image via: Offbeat China.
While you were sitting by the TV this weekend, hundreds took to the streets in Kunming, Yunnan to protest the planned construction of a chemical plant, the BBC reports.
The peaceful protest was against China National Petroleum Corporation’s plan to construct a plant that would produce 500,000 tons of the chemical paraxylene annually. Exposure to paraxylene can cause impaired short-term memory, vomiting, nausea and impaired reaction time in the short term, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Many protesters at the event wore face masks with phrases like “NO PX” written across the front.
The protest had around 200 people, according to state media. However, Chinese bloggers say the number was more likely to be around 2,000.
That same Saturday, a similar environmental protest was scheduled to happen in Chengdu, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, plans had apparently had gotten out to the government and thousands of police officers and security were out patrolling the street to prevent a protest. Officials also moved the weekend to make most citizens too busy to protest.
The protest was supposed to be against the construction of a new petrochemical plant near Chengdu.
In recent years, the Chinese government has become more relaxed about environmental protests and the urban middle class is starting to become more pro-active on this front.