Here we go again in the land of perennial reform. This time, the rioting villagers were expressing their dissatisfaction at the local battery factory for poisoning their children.
Hundreds of Chinese villagers have marched on a battery factory which they say is poisoning their children and held 1,000 workers hostage, residents and officials said.
About 600 people from Jianxia village in the eastern province of Zhejiang took control of the Zhejiang Tianneng Battery company and barricaded workers inside, resident Han Cheng told AFP Thursday.
But a promise made Thursday afternoon by factory managers to stop production and carry out investigations helped defuse the tense five-day standoff.
“The problem has been more or less solved this afternoon,” said a resident surnamed Huang in the village 150 kilometres south of Shanghai.
“Most people have started to go home after negotiations with officials and police and the factory will stop production for 15 days,” said Huang.
“Factory leaders gave their promises and people are sort of satisfied for now, but now it remains to be seen if they’ll keep their promises.”
Infuriated residents from the village of about 3,000 marched on the factory on Sunday, saying the pollution it produces when making car batteries is making their children ill.
“There are about 200 children in the village and they are all getting sick,” said Han, who has a four-year-old daughter. “They are polluting the air and it has been going on for 15 years.”
There’s lots of foreign investment in the offending company, so there may be some blame to go around. Considering the country’s environmental catastrophe, I’d think we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg. Citizens everywhere are being poisoned, and the Chinese seem to get particularly upset when they see their children made violently ill. When people are facing that reality, there’s little you can do to contain or assuage their anger. There’s nothing for them to lose.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.