Reaction to largest Paraxylene Plant

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Environmentalists protest in China

Environmentalists protest in China

Last time, China has experienced an unprecedented milestone in environmental activism. In fact, the Chinese government has ensured that there were a lot of people participating over resolving the issue in the environment. They have conducted a “decide-announce-defend” mode of public hearings wherein various government officials faced off with the public to provide comments on the actions being done over the problems over the construction of the world’s largest parxylene (PX) petrochemical plant in Xianmen, a city in southern China. The construction of the petrochemical plant could give more than $100 billion boost to Xianmen’s GDP annually. However despite the economic incentives given out by the plant, it could endanger the city of Xianmen due to the poisonous materials used by the plant. Despite the strong case against the construction of the plant, Zhao Yuefen, one of the main advocates of protest of the project, the petition was voted down by the State Environmental Protection Administration.

Chinese should be more involved in the media

Chinese should be more involved in the media

The coverage of Zhao’s petition draws out strong public reaction in Xianmen. In fact, environmental advocates such as Li Yiqian and Wu Xian, who initiated websites that contains information over the health-endangering, organized petitions and arranged protest parade, were persecuted by the municipal government. Despite the state countering public criticisms, this did not halt the local residents from expressing their opposition to the project through different strategic ways such as text-message campaigns, online protests, visual arguments and non-violent marches. They have used fear mongering in order to garner support from different locals. They have likened the PX project to an atomic bomb in Xianmen and cited grave effects of chemical spills. They initially used online websites but after it was taken down, they resorted into sending text messages. They leveled up the type of paraphernalia being distributed by including visual portrayals of the grave consequences of the PX plant. Such strategy of activists  assisted in the improvement of the political discussion in the local settings.

Images by Peter Parks and Climate Institute