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China ire over factory plans

Beijing, July 3 (Reuters): Residents of a city in China took to the streets for a third day today, demanding the government scrap plans for a copper alloy project they fear will poison them, in the latest unrest spurred by environmental concerns.

The show of defiance in Shifang in Sichuan province in the southwest has persisted despite authorities saying they had temporarily halted work on the plant and threatening to punish protest organisers if they did not give themselves up.

The protest turned violent the previous day when tens of thousands of residents stormed the city government headquarters, smashed police cars and clashed with thousands of anti-riot police, according to Hong Kong media.

Environmental worries have stoked calls for expanded rights for citizens and greater consultation in the tightly controlled one-party state where leaders are obsessed with maintaining stability while fostering economic growth. “We have so many people in Shifang, we aren’t afraid of them,” an 18-year-old saleswoman, who declined to be identified, told Reuters by telephone from Shifang. “The Shifang people will definitely not surrender. We just don’t want them to build the plant in Shifang. Is that so hard?”

The woman estimated that there were about 10,000 people on the streets, most of them students, demonstrating against the building of the molybdenum-copper alloy factory by Shanghai-listed Sichuan Hongda.

 
 
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