A recent clash over a coal-fired power plant in Yingge Sea town, Hainan Province, between local residents and police, resulted in residents being injured and some being detained. Similarly, in the Zhenhai district of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, a 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) investment program prompted some local residents appeal to the higher authorities and gather in large numbers around government offices. These two public demonstrations opposing industrial projects are cause for concern.
The concerns of local residents over heavy chemical projects are understandable. Accusing residents of being irrational is a meaningless gesture.
In fact, public complaints may force heavy chemical projects to invest more in environmental protection. They can also force the country to continuously improve the environmental standards of these kinds of enterprises. The reality is that the ability of companies responsible for heavy chemical projects to protect the environment is progressing. This shows pressure from the public in action.
However, heavy chemical projects must not stop. These projects are crucial for the development of our national economy.
We cannot resolve this problem just by stopping or postponing their establishment or moving them around. This would not help people allay their fears.
The old government-dominated method of approving and constructing heavy chemical projects is unsustainable. It needs thorough reform. The conflict will decrease only when projects receive approval from the public.
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