Over the past few month, a number of mass incidents have taken place in Guangdong province. While the uprising in Wukan village is about to be resolved as the Shanwei government has agreed to suspend the development plans and return the land back to the farmers, another town, Haimen, near Shantou city has launched its own mass mobilization against construction of the town’s second power plant. Thousands of citizens have besieged the town government and blocked the freeway between Shenzhen and Shantou, demanding that the Haimen town government call off the construction project.
With a separate protest in Shantou on December 18, 2011, also over illegal land acquisition, the series of incidents reflects the failure of the current “weiwen” stability maintenance system of control in resolving day-to-day grassroot conflicts.
Sina Weibo user fycanly blogs about the background of Haimen Uprising:
Haimen fishing harbor is a national “grade A” fishing harbor and a fishing center. Lianhua hill of Haimen town, located in Shantou’s Qiaoyang district, is classified as an “AAA” grade tourist site. Haimen people’s livelihoods depend on fishing, however Haimen has suffered from ecological disaster since June 2006.
Haimen people all know that the Huaneng power plant depends on sea water for cooling. Whenever they extract water from the sea, huge numbers of shrimp and fish are sucked into their cooling system and contaminated. Some sell these contaminated sea creatures in the market. Huaneng claims they are eco-friendly, but in 2011 the company was fined RMB 20 million by the Guangdong environmental bureau for dumping polluted water directly into the sea.
In recent years, better-off Haimen people have moved out of the area, leaving behind the poor to see this piece of beautiful land deteriorating. Who is there to take responsibility of Haimen’s people’s livelihoods and their offsprings’ futures? Who is there to take responsibility for the polluted sea? The size of Haimen harbor is around 1.9 million square meters and we have more than a thousand fishing boats. Our annual harvest is more than 180,000 tons.
Now we are going to have a second power plant in this town, where people depend on fishing for their living. Because of the emission of polluted water, there are less and less fish. The central and provincial governments have issued official documents to restrict the development of polluting industry, so why did the town government still approve the plan? In recent years, the unnatural death rate is the highest in Guangdong province, this is the price for the eco disaster.
A number of Weibo users echo with fycanly’s comment:
Fuson: During the construction of the first power plant, a platform collapsed, killing 6 workers and seriously injured 2 others. Now the number of cancer patients keep on rising. My father also died because of cancer earlier this year. Now the government wants to build another one, this can not happen. Our homeland was once so beautiful and now it’s so polluted. To my 100,000 fellow Haimenese, let’s stand up. This is not a riot, but we need to be angry.
Thousands of people blocked the entrance of an express road. Photos widely circulated in Weibo.
Indeed, Haimen people are really angry. Despite the fact that schools closed their gates and forced students to stay on the school campus and away from today’s protest, thousands of Haimen people have taken to the street. Below are Weibo users’ account of the situation in Haimen today:
Today is an extraordinary day for Haimen people. Just by looking at the photos uploaded to Weibo, you can feel the solidarity among Haimen people. People can no longer be silent about the highly polluting project. [Authorities] believed that they can stop students by giving them cup-o-noodles, this is so ridiculous. They should know to respect people’s view rather than repress them. Haimen people, please set a good example for us.
Haimen town in Qiaoyang district, Shantou city, Guangdong province, is about to build a second coal-fired power plant. One power plant has already ruined Haimen, now they want a second one. Tens of thousands of Haimen people have now surrounded the town government, and government officials have yet to give any response. The education department has instructed all the schools to detain their students after school. We are so helpless here.
All the shops in Haimen have been shut since 11am. People have packed bottled water and food to the entrance of the freeway and are distributing them freely to the petitioners. Witnesses say there were at least 30,000 people at the scene. Many are on their way. This is solidarity.
Written by Oiwan Lam