September 1, 2008 at 9:46 am #28994
Chinese protesters return to streets after Olympics
Middle classes stage peaceful but disruptive protest against pollution as restrictions imposed during Games are eased
* Jonathan Watts in Beijing
* The Observer,
* Sunday August 31 2008
* Article history
In a sign that the Olympics feelgood factor has already begun to evaporate, protesters took to the streets of Beijing yesterday in an escalating campaign against the city’s biggest dump site, which they claimed was polluting the air with a foul stench and dangerous dioxins.
Wearing surgical masks and carrying umbrellas, the mostly young, middle-class campaigners blocked roads, chanted anti-pollution slogans and refused to allow rubbish trucks to pass as dozens of police filmed them and appealed for calm.
Residents of the affluent Changying district of east Beijing have complained for more than three years about the nearby Gaoantun landfill and waste incineration facility.
Every day, 3,700 tonnes of household refuse are buried in the 40-hectare landfill. In addition, the plant burns 40 tonnes of medical waste from hospitals, raising fears among locals that the air is being polluted by odourless carcinogenic dioxins. This is denied by the plant’s owners.
Residents have petitioned the authorities and filed a lawsuit in the courts. Dissatisfied with the lack of progress, they are using the internet, text messages and demonstrations to be heard.
Zhen Qianling, a chemist among the crowd, said the stink from the plant on hot days made him feel sick and sent his heart racing. ‘We want to block the traffic so the government will hear our voice. If we just sit back and do nothing, the government will also do nothing.’ Like many, this was the first protest he had joined. The demonstrators were young urban professionals – designers, internet workers and translators. Other protestors were from the ‘New Sky Universe’ and ‘Berlin Symphony’ tower blocks. Property costs about 14,000 yuan (£1,100) a square metre, well above the Beijing average. The residents thought they were buying into one of the city’s most salubrious neighbourhoods, but on hot summer days, when the wind is in the wrong direction, their homes are filled with the stench from the dump.
‘If I had known, I would never have bought a home here,’ says Helen Liu, a translator who moved into her 500,000 yuan house in April.
In the run-up to the Olympics, police detained several prominent dissidents and put others under close surveillance. Three ‘protest parks’ were established, but of the 77 people who applied to use them, none have yet succeeded. According to human rights groups, several applicants were sent back to their home provinces or put in ‘re-education through labour’ camps. Foreigners who staged Free Tibet demonstrations have been deported.
The residents of Chanying said they did not fear a police backlash because China was becoming more open and the authorities’ concerns about losing face during the Games have diminished.
During the demonstration and after police warned the protesters they were breaking the law, they became almost comically well-mannered. They walked slowly back and forth for more than an hour across a pedestrian crossing – but only on the green man – chanting, ‘We don’t want stinking air.’
Managers at the site said emissions met environment bureau standards, but officials acknowledged the smell was a problem. ‘We pay a lot of attention to the residents’ concerns,’ said Guo Tuanhui. ‘On hot days, the buried rubbish gives off a bad odour. But we are doing what we can.’
The rally appeared to be part of a growing trend in China, as well-educated, middle-class citizens complain about environmental hazards.
In May 2007, thousands took to the streets of Xiamen in Fujian province, forcing the local government to halt plans for a chemical factory.
Last year, the head of China’s environmental agency, Zhou Shengxian, blamed the rising number of riots, demonstrations and petitions across the country on public anger at pollution.
The public have good reason to be concerned. According to the World Bank, up to 400,000 people in China die each year from outdoor air pollution, 30,000 from indoor air pollution, and 60,000 from water pollution.September 1, 2008 at 3:19 pm #28995
What does that have to do with what I posted? You are spamming again.September 2, 2008 at 3:57 pm #28997
Yeah, maybe when the sun of Japan gets with the moon of china then they will start cooking. They will be challenged to let go of the past and come together.September 26, 2008 at 9:29 am #28999
Chinese White Rabbit Creamy Candies contaminated with melamine
Front page / Society
09/24/2008 08:05 Source: AP ©
New Zealand’s Food Safety Authority has found the industrial chemical melamine in imported Chinese White Rabbit Creamy Candies and warned Wednesday that people should not eat them.
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“This product contains sufficiently high levels of melamine which may, in some individuals, cause health problems such as kidney stones,” deputy chief executive Sandra Daly said in a statement on the agency’s Web site. “The levels we have found in these products are unacceptable.”
Melamine is the chemical that has sickened thousands of Chinese children and touched off a new food scare after it began turning up in milk products.
People worried that they or their children may have eaten the sweets should seek medical advice, she added.
“This is a serious concern,” Daly said. “We cannot discount the likelihood of health risks resulting from the consumption of these sweets.”
The statement, which said several importers supplied the sweets, did not mention banning or confiscating any candy. Food Safety Authority officials could not be reached Wednesday night.
Tens of thousands of Chinese children have sought medical care and four infants have died because Chinese-made infant formula has been found to be contaminated by melamine, believed added to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein.
China’s tainted milk scandal came to light after formula sold by up to 22 Chinese companies – including Sanlu Group Co., the Chinese partner of New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra – was found to be contaminated with melamine.
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