The 300 million USD Yinggehai coal-fired power plant project was initially proposed in 2007. It received approval from the Chinese National Resources Bureau in Beijing in November 2011.
On 11 March 2012, around 10,000 residents of the Chinese Hainan province organized a protest in Ledong county against the construction of the coal-fired power plant. They arrived for the opening event held to kickstart the construction work of the plant on 12 March 2012 and also closed their local shops and businesses to protest the construction. Local residents said they were concerned that the potential sea pollution caused by such a plant could affect their fishing stocks and farmland. Clashes occurred between riot police and protesters.
After the permits were granted in 2011, construction plans for Yinggehai had already been opposed by around 8,000 local residents in a consultation held by the State-owned China Power company's Hainan regional division in January 2012.
Even though the local and national government knew that the villagers were opposed to the construction, they tried to convince them to accept the project and did not bring construction to a halt. When the authorities moved the project site to Foluo and Huangliu townships in the same county, local government was met with similar resistance and finally decided to stick to their original construction plans in Yinggehai. When protests against the plant in Foluo escalated in April 2012, reports claimed residents had stormed a government building and smashed offices and dormitories. Residents had been reporting dozens of injuries from beatings and tear gas from clashes with the riot police.
By October 2012, construction of the coal-fired power plant was said to be resumed at the original site in Yinggehai and over 1,000 people joined a several day long campaign to protest. Many were injured and detained by riot police. The Hong Kong-based human rights group, Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, stated that 50 people had been arrested and almost 100 injured during the protests.
Liu Futang, a former Chinese official and Hainan environmentalist was one of the people detained in connection with the protests. He was detained from July to December 2012, after writing and self-publishing a book about local opposition to Yinggehai. Meanwhile, his release in December 2012 came at the same time as reports saying that Yinggehai residents and officials had confirmed that construction work on the coal-fired power plant had already begun.