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Protest against proposed relocation of Gaoqiao paraxylene (PX) plant into Jinshan, Shanghai, China


There have been numerous protests in recent years focused on petrochemical plants that produce paraxylene, known as PX, a chemical used in making polyester fibre and plastics. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of PX and polyester, vital for the country’s textile and plastics industry. PX plants are especially unwelcome in China because they release PM2.5, a particle which contributed to a higher rate of death than the amount of deaths from smoking, and to which deaths from air pollution are sometimes largely attributed. The first PX protest was in 2007[1], when over ten thousand residents of Xiamen in Fujian province ‘went for a walk’ to oppose the construction of a large PX plant near a residential area. Similar protests took place in Dalian in 2011[2], Jiujiang[3] and Ningbo in 2012[4]. In May 2013, some residents in Kunming marched to protest the Anning PX (paraxylene) Project[5], Chengdu residents opposed the Pengzhou Petrochemical Project [6].  But PX and other chemical plants have also become unwelcome because of large-scale injuries and disruption caused from plant disasters. PX plants have been the object of large-scale protests in the past, for example, where thousands demonstrated against the planned building of PX plants in Maoming, Guangdong in April 2014, protests turned violent with police actions [7]. The explosion of a petrochemical plant that produced PX in Zhangzhou, Fujian in 2013 and 2015 also led to the injuries of hundreds and the evacuation of over 30,000. [8] Of course, these incidents, too, were underreported on media.

Gaoqiao is the name of an area in Shanghai and also refers to the chemical plant in question. With the current plant zone plagued by a series of accidents, the Shanghai government and Sinopec are alleged to have signed a deal to move production to the Shanghai Jinshan Industrial Park. With the idea of integrating the oil refining and chemical industry, Jinshan has been rezoned as a major site for the relocation of chemical factories from across Shanghai. [9] To prepare for the new zoning plan, which the relocation of Pudong-based Gaoqiao oil refining factory to Jinshan would kick-start, authorities launched an environmental assessment process, which is the last official step to implementing the integration plan [10]. Rumors of a possible relocation sparked outrage in Jinshan.

Starting from June 20, 2015, some mobilizations have started through the Twitter-like Sina Weibo. On June 22, there was a demonstration in which protestors occupied the space outside the Jinshan District Government. Protestors stayed overnight and participated in large-scale marches at night, though accurate counts of how many protestors were present on June 22 are hard to come by, with some claiming hundreds and others thousands. On the same day, the local authorities denied that plans for a plant existed. On June 23, they also published the environmental assessment report from the Shanghai Academy of Environmental Science on the website and emphasized that the report "showed that no PX program was included in its development plan before 2025." "The Gaoqiao petrochemical plant will close, not relocate,"  In a statement issued on Weibo, the district government said "there is no provision for a PX plant in the environmental assessment for the [Jinshan] chemical industrial park. Neither will there be a PX project in the future." However, shortly after the statement was released, a Jinshan government official made contradictory comments “This project is only at the planning stages. It hasn't been implemented," he said, "There will be an announcement and an environmental impact assessment as well."[11] Despite this, many residents were involved in the week-long protest against the rumored paraxylene project, which they fear would contaminate the environment. Thousands turned out from townships across Shanghai to protest over the weekend. Video of the earlier protests posted on YouTube showed thousands of people marching with banners that read "PX Out," and chanting "Give us back our Jinshan." It is claimed that 30,000 to 50,000 mobilized on the night of Saturday, June 27, the peak of demonstrations to date, but that the arrests of demonstrators on June 27 in a police action which involved the use of at least three police buses seems to have put an end to the current set of events, as protests have largely died down after June 29 [12]. The announcement from the municipal government published late on the evening of June 26 through an official Sina Weibo microblogging account, that environmental impact assessment for the relocated plant would stop, had the unintended result of making that night’s protest swell to an estimated size of 50,000 people [9]. A lack of transparency is usually behind such protests; the lack of freedom of information will sow much more doubts in people's minds, which also reveals people’s distrust of the government [13]. That’s why the government’s promise to halt the unwanted project didn’t persuade protestors to go home.

In March 2017, there was one news that Sinopec Shanghai will restart the PX project in Jinshan; Sinopec Shanghai declared on Weibo that the company won’t build any PX plant before careful environmental assessment and public hearings [14]. According to a report from China Galaxy Securities Research, the Sinopec Gaoqiao 20 MT/Y integral refinery project in Caojing has also been canceled due to the protests [15].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Protest against proposed relocation of Gaoqiao paraxylene (PX) plant into Jinshan, Shanghai, China
State or province:Shanghai
Location of conflict:Jinshan
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Chemical industries
Specific commodities:Chemical products
PX - paraxylene

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Sinopec Gaoqiao Caojing Integral Refinery Project: 20 million tons/year oil refining (15 million tons/year oil refining project +500 tons/year lubricating oil removal project), 100 million tons / year ethylene and its downstream supporting processing equipment

Whole budget for the relocation: 600bn CNY

Level of Investment:10,000,000,000.00
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:700,000
Start of the conflict:20/06/2015
End of the conflict:30/06/2015
Company names or state enterprises:Sinopec Shanghai Gaoqiao Petrochemical Co. Ltd (Sinopec Gaoqiao) from China
Relevant government actors:-Jinshan District Government
-Shanghai Chemical Industry Park (

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of mobilization:Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
using the phrase 'take a walk'(sàn bù) instead of protest, march or demonstration


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Fires, Other Environmental impacts
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:So far it seems to be a success as the project is canceled according to many reports, but Sinopec Gaoqiao still needs to be relocated to somewhere due to its insecure aging equipment.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

王晶. 2007 年以来 “PX 事件” 的网络舆论研究. MS thesis. 南京大学, 2016.

[15] China Galaxy A-Share Research Key Ideas

[9] Shanghai residents throng streets in ‘unprecedented’ anti-PX protest

[10] China Unleashes Police, Internet Censors on Anti-PX Plant Protesters in Shanghai

[11] Shanghai Denies PX Plans as Thousands Protest Over Pollution Fears

[13] Shanghai protesters fear chemical plant plan still on, despite government claims

[14]上海石化在线微博 Weibo Post of Sinopec Shanghai

[1] Controversy over planned paraxylene (PX) plant in Xiamen, Fujian, China

[2] The Fujia Petrochemical Paraxylene (PX) Plant protest in Dalian, Liaoning, China

[3] Controversy over planned paraxylene (PX) plant construction in Jiujiang, Jiangxi, China

[4] Controversy over planned paraxylene (PX) plant expansion in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China

[8] Opposition to PX plant in Zhangzhou and explosion accidents, Fujian, China

[12] The End of June in Shanghai

[6] Paraxylene (PX) plant expansion in Pengzhou, Sichuan, China

[5] Opposing paraxylene (PX) plant in the PetroChina 10 Million tons/year Refinery, Kunming, Yunnan, China

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

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Jinshan, China - PX chemical plant protest

Shanghai Against PX protest parade June2015 上海反PX万人游行01

上海万人示威反PX之6月27日晚上 anti-PX protest shanghai (一)

Shanghai Against PX protest parade June2015 上海反PX万人游行02


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Meta information

Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update18/08/2019




"PX Out!" "Give us back our Jinshan!" "Gaoqiao Get out!" "Protect Citizen's Health, Protect Jinshan's Environment!" "Respect Public Opinion!"