China: Protests against polluting plants on the rise
Date: 30 Oct 2012
Demonstrations against the proposed expansion of a petrochemical plant in Ningbo have concluded with the city backing down on the plans. The move is the latest chapter in a growing trend of response against pollution caused by Chinese factories.
Thousands of people had been involved with the protests in Ningbo, resulting in the city government announcing the outcome to the assembled crowd. The plant is run by a subsidiary of state-owned oil giant Sinopec.
This, and successful protests in other cities, will increase the momentum for Chinese companies being challenged to update environmental standards. Although the country has achieved some of its early growth with lower costs precisely because such standards could be ignored, the backlash caused by the increasingly visible consequences are putting the social impact of government and corporate activity higher on the agenda.
In particular, the phenomenon is being fed by the rise of the Chinese middle class. Ningbo, along with the sites of other successful protests Xiamen and Dalian, is reasonably prosperous.
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In a recent article, the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston highlighted the fact that in 2012 the chances are that the economy - punch drunk as it is from the various flavours of debt crisis it has been pummelled with over the course of the year - will be hit by the collapse of a major bank and / or government.
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