In China’s southern island province of Hainan, thousands of people in the Yinggehai Township of Ledong City took to the streets on Saturday. It’s the second large-scale protest there against plans for a coal-fired power plant in a month.
Protesters held banners reading, “protect the environment” and “people’s livelihood” on Saturday. They say authorities are pressuring them to agree with the major state-run power producer, the China Guodian Corporation.
[Yinggehai Villager]: (2nd in 2nd footage)
“I hear they’re threatening the teachers, kids and students to sign on and agree to the coal-fired power plant. If they refuse, they’ll stop them from taking college exams, or stop payments to teachers.”
China Guodian Corporation obtained approval last November to build the power plant, but locals say they were not consulted before the decision. They fear pollution from the plant would hurt the environment and local marine life—a main source of their livelihood.
Locals say they decided to protest after local authorities ignored their concerns, and went on with plans to build the plant.
[Yinggehai Villager]: (female, Chinese) (1st in 1st footage)
“We don’t want Guodian to build this, but they’re persisting so we’re protesting. All the villagers here, as well as from nearby villagers have joined.”
Residents have also tried to appeal online, but say some posts are being removed from the Internet. Others say authorities have started to monitor telephone conversations.
[Yinggehai Villager]: (male, Chinese) (2 in 1st footage)
“I’m taking a lot of courage to talk to you, the authorities are listening to the phones. I’ve heard that telephones of eight or ten people have been bugged, and they’re too scared to turn on their phones.”
Radio Free Asia reported authorities dispatched riot police to contain the protest. A township official also said the plant’s construction would probably go ahead despite the protests.