|Tensions mount as police grab protesters in China||
NINGBO, China (AP) — Thousands of protesters marched through an eastern Chinese city on Sunday, shouting for fellow citizens to join them in demanding that the government halt the expansion of a petrochemical factory because of pollution fears.
The demonstration in Ningbo city in wealthy Zhejiang province is the latest this year over fears of health risks from industrial projects, as Chinese who have seen their living standards improve become more outspoken against environmentally risky projects in their areas.
Such protests are exactly what the Chinese leadership does not want ahead of next month's once-a-decade transition of power, with stability being paramount.
“The government hides information from the people. They are only interested in scoring political points and making money,” said one protester, Luo Luan, who works in the insurance industry. “They don't care about destroying the environment or damaging people's lives.”
Hundreds of residents headed from a city square toward the offices of the municipal government early Sunday. They were stopped by police at the gate, where they shouted for the release of people reportedly detained a day earlier.
Tensions rose after about 200 riot police walked out of the gate, tore down banners that people had hung in trees and grabbed at least three protesters, carrying them into the government compound.
The protesters threw plastic bottles and chanted, “Release the people.”
Riot police with batons later guarded the back of the government offices.
Some protesters marched away from the offices in an apparent effort to round up more support. Hundreds roamed along nearby shopping streets. Police diverted traffic to allow them to pass down a main road.
The protests began a few days earlier in the coastal district of Zhenhai, where the petrochemical factory is located. On Saturday they swelled and spread to the center of Ningbo city, whose officials oversee Zhenhai.
Residents reported that Saturday's protests involved thousands of people and turned violent after authorities used tear gas and arrested participants.
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