Thousands of angry Chinese took to the streets in Sichuan province yesterday to protest the environmental fallout of a copper alloy plant—and by nightfall had halted its construction, reports the Guardian. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds in Shifang, which is still recovering from the 2008 earthquake, and at least 13 people were injured. But authorities later announced the suspension of work at the plant, which residents fear will pollute the local environment with toxic byproducts including sulfur odium dioxide. Such protests are growing in China, notes the Guardian, as citizens grow increasingly worried about Beijing's disregard for the environment in favor of industrialization.
Police warned that protesters involved in "incitement, planning, and organizing the illegal assembly demonstrations, and vandalizing" would be severely punished unless they surrendered to authorities within three days, reports the Telegraph. The case shows the problem with China's lack of front-end public participation in environmental decision-making, says an environmentalist. "In other countries the public have legal recourse when their right to participation cannot be guaranteed, but that is not possible in China," he says.