Shanghai Protests Force Battery-Maker to Abandon Factory

Protests in Shanghai forced a battery-maker to abandon plans for a factory on the outskirts of the city, in a victory for citizens wary of assurances that such projects won’t pollute the environment.

Shanghai Guoxuan New Energy Co. will give up its investment and return the land for the factory to the government, the company said in a statement on the Songjiang district website yesterday. It was responding to environmental concerns over the production of lithium-iron phosphate batteries, according to a separate statement on the district’s environment bureau website.

The protests reflect concerns among ordinary Chinese about the environmental costs of economic growth, which averaged 10.6 percent in the last decade. Further underscoring tensions, hundreds of residents took to the streets of the city of Kunming today to protest plans for a petrochemical plant, according to the South China Morning Post.

Pollution has replaced land disputes as the main cause of social unrest in the country, Chen Jiping, a former leading member of the Communist Party’s Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs, told Bloomberg in March.

While an official environmental impact study showed the battery project in Songjiang would cause little air or water pollution, concerned residents began organizing protests last month, the China Daily newspaper reported today.

Shanghai Guoxuan is a subsidiary of Hefei Guoxuan High-Tech Power Energy Co.

Today’s protests in Kunming saw demonstrators shout “Get out, refinery” and throw water bottles at police as they demanded that state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. abandon plans for a chemical plant, the South China Morning Post reported. Previous protests on May 4 in Kunming led the local government to promise to cancel the project if “most of our citizens say no to it,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported May 10, citing Mayor Li Wenrong.

— With assistance by Henry Sanderson

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