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Police in Hangzhou Detain 53 After Protesters Torch Cars

People walk past a damaged police vehicle lying on a road after residents clashed with police during a protest in Hangzhou, China. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images
People walk past a damaged police vehicle lying on a road after residents clashed with police during a protest in Hangzhou, China. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images

May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese police detained 53 people in the eastern city of Hangzhou after demonstrators overturned cars and set police vehicles on fire in a mass protest against a planned waste incinerator.

Seven suspects were also detained for spreading rumors online that police had killed innocent people, the Hangzhou police said in a statement on their Weibo microblog account. Violence broke out when police officers tried to drive hundreds of people off the Hangzhou-Huangshan expressway Saturday, the state-owned Global Times said today.

The demonstrations that drew thousands of people in prosperous Hangzhou are the latest sign of increasingly violent opposition to industrial projects in China, as the middle-class seeks to protect its cities from further pollution. In March, more than 1,000 people protested in the southern city of Maoming against a planned chemical plant. Last year, hundreds took to the streets in the southwest city of Kunming to voice opposition to a planned refinery.

Three decades of breakneck industrialization has regularly pushed air-pollution in many major cities above acceptable levels. Food supplies are also at risk as China’s soil is laced with pollutants including mercury and arsenic, a nine-year government survey released last month, said.

Public Support

The Hangzhou project will not be constructed without public support or before it has gone through the legal process, Xu Wenguang, party chief of the district where the planned incinerator is located, told Xinhua yesterday.

Hangzhou’s government announced the site of the planned incinerator in April as part of efforts to ease pressure on garbage disposal, Xinhua said. It was to be built in Yuhang district in the western part of the city, which is a couple of hours drive from Shanghai.

Protesters can seek leniency if they “accurately explain their illegal crimes,” the Yuhang police said on its official Weibo account yesterday. It released a list of 25 suspects along with their photos.

There were no deaths during the protest, Bian Weiyue, deputy director of the city’s public security bureau, said during a press conference yesterday, according to state media. At least 10 demonstrators and 29 policemen were injured in the protests, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Henry Sanderson in Beijing at hsanderson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net Neil Western, Tan Hwee Ann

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