Xinchang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company, Zhejiang, China

Antipollution protest by more than 10,000 villagers in Zhejiang against Xinchang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company resulted in a temporary stoppage of the production and stringent environmental monitoring.


Description

Xinchang County, was one of the six poverty-stricken counties in Zhejiang Province in the late 1990s. And yet the county developed into one of the top 100 counties in 2004. In its development, Jingxin and several other pharmaceutical companies have contributed to local employment and promoted industrial economic development. However, with the rapid development of the pharmaceutical industry, environmental problems have become increasingly prominent, long-term water pollution has seriously affected the agricultural production and daily life of the downstream residents along the Xinchang River, especially villages in Shengzhou City. Huangniqiao Village in Shengzhou City, which is less than 100 meters away from the factory, is one of the nearest villages being affected. [1] According to the reflections from the local villagers, 3 months after the pharmaceutical factory was established, the groundwater in this area started to be undrinkable anymore. In the next few years, villagers gradually found that the river fish, shrimps, snails, and even the frogs are extinct, the output of crops was dramatically reduced, crops began producing vegetables that were unfit to eat, the odor emissions from the plant was so unbearable that villagers “would rather  be killed than to be overwhelmed by stench”[1]. In the past years, the NPC deputies and CPPCC members from Shengzhou City raised the issue to higher authorities for many times, but it turned out to be ineffective. The affected population has almost lost confidence in the government's handling of the problem. As reported by villagers from the affected surrounding area, none of the youths in those villages are qualified to join the army in the recent years because they could not pass the National Recruitment Physical Examination. At the same time, more than half of people in the 35-40 age group are suffering from liver disease, while in the 40-45 age group, the rate increased to 60%. There are obviously more inpatients from Xinchang and Shengzhou in the Zhejiang Cancer Hospital, for which the impact of the long-term breathing within the polluted air and drinking the contaminated water caused by the pharmaceutical company are the main reasons. [2] On June 22, 2005, the Xinchang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company exploded, resulting in one death and 4 injured. This accident triggered the villagers’ long-standing panic and dissatisfaction to the company. In addition, the scorching weather in the summer of 2005 reduced the water level in Xinchang River, while the exacerbated pungent odor emissions challenged people’s tolerance. [3] On July 4, 2005, a conflict broke out when villagers living near Xinchang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company asked the company for compensation of “nutrition fee” [1] because of serious odor problems and damages to rice crops. Villagers smashed the glass door in the reception room and destroyed some facilities in the office as the responsible person in the factory repeatedly postpone the negotiating time. The initial conflict resulted in the temporary suspension of production [4]. But on July 15, believing the facility was resuming production (the official explanation was that officials and company staff were checking some of the hazardous substances stored in the facility), a few hundred villagers tried to blockade the facility, which led to a violent confrontation with the police [5]. More than 10,000 villagers (As reported by New York Times: as many as 15,000 people) from nearby villages were drawn into the confrontation, they massed and waged a pitched battle with the authorities, overturning police cars and throwing stones for hours, undeterred by thick clouds of tear gas. Fewer people turned out on July 18 under rainy skies, but residents of this factory town in the wealthy Zhejiang Province vow they will keep demonstrating until they have forced the 10- year-old plant to relocate. "This is the only way to solve problems like ours," said a 22-year-old villager whose house sits less than 100 yards from the smashed gates of the factory, where the police were massed. "If you go to see the mayor or some city official, they just take your money and do nothing."[6] The unrest only dissolved after the heavy rainstorm. A few villagers were arrested later by the police. Until 7 AM on July 21, after Jingxin pharmaceutical plant has completed the handling of hazardous chemicals, the villagers no longer gather and the police have also been evacuated. After the incident, the local environmental protection bureau initiated daily pollution inspection, sampling, and monitoring on Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company. [7]It also conducted an environmental assessment for the whole Xinchang River Basin and issued reports on how the company needed to address pollution problems based on the assessment.[8]

Basic Data
NameXinchang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company, Zhejiang, China
CountryChina
ProvinceZhejiang
SiteVillages in Xinchang County and Huangniqiao Village in Shengzhou City, Shaoxing municipality
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Manufacturing activities
Specific Commoditiesmedicine
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsRegistered investment: 640 million yuan

Total assets: 2.9 billion yuan

Net assets: 2.2 billion CNY.

The whole company has five production bases and 2,300 employees with import and export trade.
Project Area (in hectares)67
Level of Investment (in USD)95,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationmore than 200,000
Start Date04/07/2005
End Date21/07/2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesZhejiang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd (Jingxin Pharm) from China
Relevant government actors-Government of Xinchang County

-Government of Shengzhou City

-Shaoxing Municipal Government
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Neighbours/citizens/communities
villagers
villagersvillagers
Villagers
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Waste overflow
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Otherhigh cancer incidence, the army rejected recruits from the village
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Othermore expense on health issues.
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Moratoria
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The protest in July 2005 was somehow succeeded because it forced the factory to stop producing for a period and more rigorous environmental monitoring, however, the factory is still operating in the same area with more or less some pollution. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, other similar factories are also producing odor smells, etc. in this area which affecting villagers' everyday life.
Sources and Materials
References

范卫强, & 陆琼琼. (2005). 京新事件后的污染转移之困. 中国社会导刊, (08X), 51-52.
[click to view]

[8]Tianjie, M., 2008. Environmental mass incidents in rural China: examining large-scale unrest in Dongyang, Zhejiang. China Environment Series, p.33-49.
[click to view]

张玉林. (2006). 政经一体化开发机制与中国农村的环境冲突. 探索与争鸣, (5), 26-28.
[click to view]

蓝寿荣, 何雪峰, & 郑盼. (2014). 农村环境污染中农民维权难问题的治理对策. 长江大学学报: 社会科学版, 37(3), 73-78.
[click to view]

[1]郎友兴. (2005). 商议性民主与公众参与环境治理: 以浙江农民抗议环境污染事件为例. 转型社会中的公共政策与治理” 国际学术研讨会论文, 19-20.
[click to view]

Links

[5]China's Pollution Pushes Peasants to Action
[click to view]

[4] 国内最大喹诺酮原料药生产商遭遇环保危机/China's largest quinolone API manufacturers suffered environmental crisis
[click to view]

[6]Riots in a Village in China as Pollution Protest Heats Up
[click to view]

[7]新昌治水“逼”出企业转型 山区小县走绿色发展之路/The transformation of Xinchang water control "forcing" enterprise: the green development of mountainous town
[click to view]

[3] WATER CONFLICTS THREATEN VIOLENCE ON LOCAL LEVEL
[click to view]

[2]京新、新和成两药厂污染调查
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protesters blocked by police barricades Protesters, who say the pharmaceuticals factory at Xinchang pollutes their water, were blocked on 18 July 2005 by police barricades.
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Protestors arrested Three protesters, in plain clothes at bottom left nearest the camera, were arrested outside Xinchang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Company that they say is polluting their village's water.
[click to view]

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ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update05/10/2017
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