Protests Continue Over Power Plant in China

Posted December 22nd, 2011 at 6:55 am (UTC-5)
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Tensions remain high in the small town of Haimen in southern China amid a continuing dispute over plans to expand a power plant.

Riot police patrolled entrances to the town to stifle any unrest. Witnesses said police were arresting protesters.

Television footage broadcast Thursday showed police firing tear gas and using batons to keep back hundreds of protesters who gathered along a highway in the southern Guangdong province as the protests rolled into a third day.

On Wednesday, witnesses said protesters smashed cars and hurled rocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowds gathered around government buildings.

The violence comes as protesters and provincial officials in Wukan, also in Guangdong, reached a rare compromise on Wednesday, halting months of protests over controversial land grabs.

On Thursday, Chinese media welcomed the agreement that secured the release of three detained villagers leading protests in the town of Wukan.

A top Chinese newspaper, The People's Daily, criticized local officials for allowing the dispute to get out of hand, saying they had failed to “heed the reasonable demands of villagers.” But it praised provincial authorities who helped broker the compromise after calling the villagers demands reasonable. The paper's views broadly reflect those of the ruling Communist Party.

Protests in China over corruption, pollution, wages and land seizures have become more common in recent years, in part, analysts say, because of the spiraling growth of the Internet. China currently ranks first in Internet use, with more than 450 million Internet users.