Violent protests against planned paraxylene (PX) plant in Maoming, Guangdong, China

Industrial conflicts and pollution while the local government allegedly seeks a balance between "development and stability"


Protests against a proposed paraxylene (PX) plant in Maoming, Guangdong, caught the attention of national and international media for its intensity and scale. On the first day of the protests (30 March, 2014), hundreds of protests appeared on the streets, with clashes with police and reports of tear gas being launched at protesters. Many were injured, with photos on social media circulating images of police chasing protesters with batons. The Maoming government has called the unauthorised protest "a serious offence" and urged residents to "trust the government and not give illegal elements the opportunity to cause chaos” [1]. The reported turnout was reported to have reached 1000 people.

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Basic Data
NameViolent protests against planned paraxylene (PX) plant in Maoming, Guangdong, China
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Urban development conflicts
Chemical industries
Specific Commoditiesparaxylene (PX)
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Level of Investment (in USD)559,243,930
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date30/03/2014
End Date04/04/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec ) from China - Developer
Relevant government actorsMaoming, Guangdong and Shenzhen local authorities; deputy mayor of Maoming Luo Yueliang
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersConcerned Chinese netizens and local residents
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 MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Fires, Air pollution, 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…)
OtherThe main effect of inhaling xylene vapor is depression of the central nervous system, with symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, which can occur with exposure up to air levels of about 100 ppm. [...] Long term exposure can lead to depression, insomnia, agitation, extreme tiredness, tremors, impaired concentration and short-term memory. [...] At very high levels of exposure, xylene can injure the liver and kidneys, with the damage being irreversible. [...] Xylene inhaled by a woman can reach a developing fetus and can contaminate her breast milk" [5]
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The government has shelved the plan for now, but it is unclear whether the protesters' voices and opinions will be heard and taken into consideration in future plans for such projects.
Sources and Materials

The Maoming Anti-PX Protest of 2014

An environmental movement in contemporary China
[click to view]


[1] China Maoming environmental protest violence condemned
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[2] Maoming Protests Continue in Southern China
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[3] Shenzhen becomes third city to join protests over Maoming chemical plant
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[4] Xinhua Insight: PX protests expose government struggle between development, stability
[click to view]

[5] Xylene: An overview of its health hazards and preventive measures
[click to view]

Other Documents

Portests in Maoming, Guangdong province Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, University of Oxford
Last update12/04/2016