BEIJING – They were just “taking a stroll,” said organizers of an environmental protest in south China’s Guangdong province, using a widely understood term necessary in a nation whose Communist Party rulers ban most protests and unofficial public gatherings.
More than 1,000 people gathered at Jiangmen City Hall last week to demand authorities stop a planned uranium-processing facility that protesters feared would affect their health — and the health of future generations.
The $6 billion plant in Heshan, a smaller city administered by Jiangmen less than 60 miles from Hong Kong, was designed as a major supplier to nuclear power stations that Beijing says will help end China’s reliance on heavily polluting coal.
As the protest continued over the weekend, officials quickly announced the state-run project’s cancellation. The reversal chalked up another success for people power in the one-party People’s Republic after a series of capitulations over industrial projects in recent years. Authorities have bowed to urban anger at perceived threats to China’s environment, already ravaged by decades of poorly regulated economic growth.