Waste incineration plant in Yuhang district, Hangzhou, China

Protests are met with violence and repression which led to allegedly three people dead. But Chinese civil society seems to become more and more aware about pollution and reclaim the streets.

On 11 May, 2014, thousands of people in the city of Hangzhou protested against plans by the local government to build a waste incinerator [1]; major concerns are related to health impacts. At least 10 residents and 29 police were injured during violent confrontations that resulted in overturned vehicles, as well as the burning of police cars [2]. According to another source, "At least three people are reported dead with dozens more injured, hospitalized and arrested after hundreds of police began a brutal repression with baton beatings, tasers and tear gas, in a move to clear out 1000’s of proposed waste incinerator plant protesters in Hangzhou. Social media accounts are reporting that 2 men and a child were killed by police during the initial crackdown. People report that the incident began with the police attacking the elderly people who were sitting as a barrier to the overpass encampment that has been on site in past weeks" [6]. The highway linking Hangzhou and Huizhou was temporarily shut due to a blockade by demonstrators in Yuhang district where the plant is slated to be developed [1]. In a statement issued on the official government website, Yuhang officials promised that work on the incinerator had been halted and that the public would be consulted and invited to participate in decided whether to press ahead with the scheme [3]. We will "invite the local people to participate, fully listen to and seek everyone's opinions, and guarantee people's right to know what is happening and right to participate", it said (ibid). The government also added that it hoped that people would end "maintain normal social public order and jointly maintain social stability" (ibid). Despite the apparent success of the protest in halting the development of the incinerator, demonstrators are being persecuted for their activism by local authorities. Local police posted a list of suspects online and used local television networks to call for the suspects to surrender [4]. The high-profile campaign appears to have paid off, with Xinhua reporting that local police have arrested 60 people for “their violent and rumormongering behavior” during the protests (ibid). According to an article on LibertyVoice , "More Chinese are becoming environmentalists. They not only question governmental policies concerning pollution, they now take to the streets to protests something like an incineration plant being constructed in places such as Hangzhou." Again, as per the news reported by the same article, "Wu Yixiu, head of Greenpeace’s environmental group that confronts toxics in East Asia, said people in China are losing confidence with the way local, district, and national officials handle environmental issues such as the Hangzhou incinerator. In the past, such projects were constructed and the local population had to live with the consequences. There is a growing movement among the Chinese living near such projects who will no longer sacrifice the local environment, their health, the health of their families, and those in the community in the name of progress." However, the question about what to do to dispose waste properly is still open and finds no consent.
Basic Data
NameWaste incineration plant in Yuhang district, Hangzhou, China
ProvinceZhejiang province
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Incinerators
Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesIndustrial waste
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project Details1.09 million tons of waste treated (annual capacity). The incinerator will occupy a total area of 13.97 hectares and process 3,000 tonnes of household garbage every day.
Level of Investment (in USD)1,650,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date10/05/2014
End Date14/05/2014
Relevant government actorsYuhang district government, Hangzhou city
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
OtherAir pollution related health problems
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseViolent targeting of activists
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesXu Wenguang, Communist Party chief of Yuhang district, said construction of the incinerator won’t begin without public support and before going through the legal process, Xinhua said in a separate report today [1]. Xu’s comments reiterate a pledge given by the local government on its website (ibid).
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.A government in eastern China will shelve plans to build a huge waste incinerator if it does not have popular support, in an apparent victory for protesters who had clashed with police saying they feared the plant would damage their health [3].
Sources and Materials

[1] Protest Against Waste Plant in Hangzhou Turns Violent
[click to view]

[3] China says no waste plant without support after protests
[click to view]

[4] 60 in Custody After Hangzhou Protests
[click to view]

[2] 杭州5000人反焚化爐警民流血 (5000 in Hangzhou protest against development of incinerator; bloodshed amongst police and citizens)
[click to view]

[5] Liberty Voice -Environmentalists Clash With Chinese Police
[click to view]

[6] Revolution news - Brutal Crackdown on Hangzhou Waste Incinerator Protest Leaves 3 Dead, Sparks Riot
[click to view]

Media Links

Hangzhou incineration plant protest (Weibo images)
[click to view]

浙江杭州建垃圾焚化炉发生警民冲突伤几十人 (Footage of violent confrontation between police and protesters over incinerator project in Hangzhou, Zhejiang)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Police forces to quell the protests Source: http://revolution-news.com/brutal-crackdown-hangzhou-waste-incinerator-protest-leaves-3-dead-sparks-riot/
[click to view]

Other Commentshttp://www.ecns.cn/2014/09-13/134315.shtml

Waste incinerator project restarts following protest, clash. XinhuaWeb Editor: Wang Fan
Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, University of Oxford
Last update25/05/2017