Video: 30,000 Chinese ‘Occupy’ Highway to Protest Polluting Coal Plants

Tens of thousands of residents in China’s southern Guandong Province gathered in the streets yesterday, occupying a highway to demonstrate against the development of a new coal plant near Shantou city. The residents say existing coal plants in the area are fouling local air and water, and are making people sick.

Each year, protests spring up to counter the construction of dirty coal plants. But this appears to be the biggest yet. Officials now say they will abandon plans to build a new coal plant in the area. Two people were reportedly killed in clashes with police, but the government is denying those reports.

China’s coal use has exploded over the last few decades. Since 1980, coal consumption in China has grown 500%, and now represents three quarters of consumption in Asia. That has coincided with a five-fold increase of lung cancer since 1970, now the leading cause of death in China. (Of course, an increase in smoking is also a huge contributor.)

Watch the protesters gather in the streets throughout Guandong Province protesting coal plants and local land rights:

2 Responses to Video: 30,000 Chinese ‘Occupy’ Highway to Protest Polluting Coal Plants

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Coal is China’s dark side in many ways. Thousands of miners die from accidents every year, in addition to those killed by pollution. If even a fraction of these medical and human costs are accounted for, it’s not cheap at all.

    Chinese coal magnates have become very wealthy, along with managers of export industries. The central government has become corrupted, and blithely continues to build coal plants in spite of everything, including global warming that contributes to recent devastating floods and droughts.

    It’s a similar situation here in the US. Political leaders at all levels either do the bidding of oil and coal or are afraid to antagonize them.

    In both countries, the media is also tightly managed, especially when it comes to stories about global warming. For every timid report on the consequences of burning CO2, the average American will watch hundreds of big truck ads.

    Pressure may have to come from outside, in the form of consumer boycotts and stiff tariffs, which would effectively be a carbon tax applied at ports. Nothing else appears likely to work in time.

  2. Phil says:

    That was a remarkably good piece of reporting. Long by American standards, detailed and even gave information about the area where these protests are happening! Odd but refreshing.

    This wasn’t, by chance, the international version of CNN, was it?