Residents in central China clash with police over canal project

The Hong Kong Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported that a protest involving 3,000 people in Wuhan, capital of the central Chinese province of Hubei, against a planned canal ended in confrontation with the police. 50 people were injured and 100 arrested, their whereabouts unknown.

Submitted by Spartacus on August 30, 2009

Events are reported as follows:

At around 0730 on the 21st of August, more than 3,000 people from the Wuhan Heavy Machine Tool Group Company and Wuhan University, including workers, teachers, and retired personnel, began to block Zhongbei Road and Donghu Road, paralysing the traffic in the surrounding areas. At 1100, the Wuhan authorities sent 500 special task force policemen to clear the site. When they were trying to arrest the protestors, a bloody clash occurred. Fifty protestors were injured and 100 others were arrested and carried away on vehicles.

The Wuhan City Government has invested 12 billion yuan for the construction of an open canal from Donghu to Shahu, which they claim will help improve the city environment and harness pollution. This is the city's largest relocation project in history, involving more than 50,000 residents of some 20,000 households.

Residents describe the project as “a hand-in-glove collaboration between officials and developers”. Many are discontented with the compensation prices, relocation sites, and the students' schooling arrangements. Other concerns raised were skepticism about the details of the project, such as the scope of construction, the project plan, and the project cost estimate - which have all remained undisclosed - and the question of whether the canal project will help harness pollution when the sources of pollution remain unresolved.

A forced relocation of the residents is apparently due soon – the author of the report predicts that this will likely result in another, much larger and more violent incident. As of today (30th of August) no further information has become available.

This year the Chinese government has increased the number of Special Task Force policemen by 30,000 and intends a similar increase in each of the next two years. Whilst some editorials in major newspapers recently admitting that many, or even most “mass incidents” are not due to either small groups of trouble makers or ignorance, but the actions of the authorities themselves, clearly many more such incidents are expected.

The original report can be read here.