Please zoom in or out and select the base layer according to your preference to make the map ready for printing, then press the Print button above.

Zhuxi Industrial Park in Huaxi, Dongyang, Zhejiang, China


Description

Dongyang County is located in Jinhua Municipality, Zhejiang, about a two-hour drive from Hangzhou.  Huashui (画水) is one of the less-well-off towns in a prosperous region and is known for its plastic recycling. The Huashui Town government oversees 18 “administrative villages”, most of which are further divided into “natural villages”.  Huaxi (画溪) is an administrative village which is composed of six natural villages.[1]

In early 2001, Dongyang County opened the Zhuxi Chemical Industrial Park (竹溪工业园) on land belonging to Huaxi and Huangshan Villages, and announced that it would relocate a pesticide factory there. Dongnong Chemical Industry Limited Company (Dongnong Company, 东农化工), a notorious pesticide factory, was to be relocated to this park. [2]The Party secretary of Huaxi No. 5 village opposed this move and attempted to stop it. He consulted an expert, investigated the polluted village where the company was then located, and penned a leaflet entitled “A portrait of Dongnong Company”, which framed the environmental threat from Dongnong Company in a way that resonated with Huaxi villagers’ cultural values about lineage and offspring and depicted the frightening scenario in the village of Luzhai which had already been polluted by the company, listing the products manufactured by Dongnong Company as well as seven dire consequences if the factory was to move to Huaxi. The powerful rhetoric used in “The portrait” enumerated the previous protests against the company, it educated the local villagers about the potential environmental and health dangers from the company and also caused panic and generated a sense of injustice among the villagers. Prior to the appearance of the leaflet, the villagers’ only complaint was about the low rent that the company would pay for the use of the land. The environmental threat depicted by “The portrait” prompted the villagers to take action. More and more villagers started to reproduce the “The portrait” at their own expense and pasted them on walls throughout the village. They also had their wives distribute copies in the market. [3]

Concerned about the safety of their health and crops, villagers seized every opportunity to question the local officials about whether or not  Dongnong Company produced poisonous waste.  The Party secretary of Huaixi town repeatedly reassured the petitioners that:  “Dongnong Company will meet all our environmental criteria. Its wastewater will be clean enough to brush one’s teeth with and to cultivate fish, and its waste will be able to be used to feed our pigs.”  Despite these promises, he failed to reassure the anxious villagers. On the evening of 20 October 2001, dozens of villagers went to a restaurant where Party Secretary Xu was dining with his associates to demand another dialogue on the environmental issue. Again, Xu exaggerated the environmental safety of Dongnong Company, but this time his response infuriated the villagers. Some villagers shouted, “Drag him to the chemical industrial park! Make him take a look and smell the waste water!”  The call was answered: after Xu was dragged to the industrial park, where thousands of villagers had already assembled, he was forced to walk around the park with bare feet and to smell the foul wastewater from the two factories. After Xu was rescued by a village cadre and sent to the hospital, the villagers destroyed the fence around Dongnong Company and smashed the doors and windows of the other two factories.  Some vandalized property and stole computers or telephones. This became known as the “October 20th Incident,” which marked a high tide but also the end of the first episode of the Huaxi environmental struggle. [4][3]

This protest failed to prevent the relocation of Dongnong Company. Worse still, 12 villagers were prosecuted for disturbing social order and ten were jailed for between one and three years. The Party secretary of Huaxi No. 5 village, although not on the scene during the incident, served the longest time behind bars. As the author of “The portrait,” he was blamed for inciting the “October 20th Incident.” This also deterred additional protest for 2.5 years and cleared the way for the expansion of the park, which soon came to occupy 960 mu (about 64 hectares). At its peak, the park contained 13 factories, mainly producers of chemicals, pesticides, dye and pharmaceuticals. Nearly all the factories generated a substantial amount of water and air pollution.  After a rain on July 2, 2003, villagers also found that the entire green rice field in Xishan Village suddenly turned yellow and the rice leaves fell into the field.[5] The villagers are most dissatisfied with the fact that it is difficult to see a variety of vegetable plots. “The basic species is not alive.” People should buy vegetables drawn from other areas and the price is even much more expensive than in the urban areas. The harsh response to the 2001 incident also forced Huaxi villagers to adopt a more innovative detour strategy. They pursued environmental claims by seeking redress for land-related grievances in order to overcome the obstacles in proving the relationship between pollution and damage to the environment and health.[6]

On 24 March 2005, a group of elderly people, mostly women, set up bamboo tents and other barriers on the road leading to the factories. Their hope was to block delivery of supplies, thereby forcing the factories to shut down. Huashui Town officials and police dismantled the tent the next evening, but the protesters immediately erected a second one. [7]Over the next 10 days, despite efforts to pull down the tents, the size of the encampment grew, as residents from about 10 other villages joined the protest, with each village erecting its own tent. County leaders then turned to a more forceful approach. At about 3 AM on 10 April, the county leadership sent in over 1,500 local cadres and public security personnel to put an end to the encampment. Violence broke out during their efforts to clear out the protesters and there is also rumor saying that a vehicle crushed an elderly woman to death during the protest while the government later explained that it was a natural death.[8] Protesters overturned police cars and public buses, smashed windows and attacked police officers who used tear gas in an attempt to restore calm. Over 100 officials or police officers and more than 200 villagers were injured, and 69 government vehicles were burned or damaged. In the wake of the “April 10th Incident”, the protesters still refused to withdraw and the number of tents grew to about 30, representing 22 villages. Meanwhile, the violence had attracted international media attention, and higher levels of government, including Beijing, sent a team of investigators to look into the protest and the county’s response. Under mounting pressure from above and below, Dongyang County agreed to close 11 of the factories in the park, and on 20 May the protesters allowed their tents to be taken down. [9][10]

However, 9 of the protestors in the tent were detained after the conflict and then were released upon bail pending trial. Those who participated in the smashing and attacking to police were detained. On 8 September 2005, they were prosecuted by the Dongyang People's Procuratorate and were heard in the Dongyang People’s Court. After the trial in the local court of Dongyang, there was no verdict. Later the case was relocated to the Lanxi City People's Court in Zhejiang Province without further information. [11]

In the middle of the Ming dynasty, Qi Jiguang, a famous anti-Japanese Marshal, once fought with soldiers in Dongyang and nearby areas and trained “Qi Army” against the WAKO (Japanese invaders) , people from this area had a fighting spirit in their blood. [2]

Huaxi is also home to China’s largest recycled plastics trading centre. Companies would transport imported waste plastics from Ningbo port to Huaxi, and the plastics that could not be reused polluted the environment and led to serious problems.[12] But according to Deng, although these recycling workshops caused great harm to the environment and to the health of the villagers, untreated wastewater discharged from the workshops covered the roads, seeping into both the soil and the drinking water supply, and shrill noises emitted during the plastic shredding process could be heard throughout the day, and there was also a stench from melting plastic and burning waste, there had been no serious protests against the pollution caused by this cottage industry. Some former protest leaders were even participating in this polluting business. [3]

In 2007, two years later after this protest and a series of other environmental protests happened in Zhejiang, The Economic Observer revisited the environmental conflicts in Zhejiang including this one and it was revealed more significantly that the importance of environment protection has been recognized by the local governments and companies after the series of environmental conflicts.[13] The whole industrial park was later reorganized to host enterprises which produce arts and crafts, photo frames, mahogany furniture, etc.[14]

Basic Data

NameZhuxi Industrial Park in Huaxi, Dongyang, Zhejiang, China
CountryChina
ProvinceZhejiang
SiteHuaxi Village (used to be a town), Huashui Town, Dongyang County, Jinhua City
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Chemical industries
Agro-toxics
Specific CommoditiesLand
Trifluralin, ammonium bifluoride, Tricyclazole, etc.
Chemical products

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsAt its peak, the park contained 13 factories, mainly producers of chemicals, pesticides, dye and pharmaceuticals. Nearly all the factories generated a substantial amount of water and air pollution.
Project Area (in hectares)64
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population20,000
Start Date2001
End Date2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesDongnong Chemical Industry Limited Company (dongnong) from China
MAX (Dongyang) Chemicals Co., Ltd. (MAX) from United States of America
Relevant government actors-Dongyang Government
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters-Societies of Senior Citizens

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Societies of Senior Citizens
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Shareholder/financial activism.
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Genetic contamination
OtherExcessive fluoride in agro products, vegetables didn't grow
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other Health impacts
OtherThe poisonous fumes also led to deformed babies being born in the village, with residents also fearing for the safety of children in two schools that are less than 100m away from the park.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood
Otherincreased costs for villagers to buy food from outside

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Deaths
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (undecided)
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The local villagers forced 11 polluting factories off their land, but there are still more problems related. One is the long-term environmental and health impacts, and the other issue is that the local people are still keen to the plastics recycling business in the next years.

Sources and Materials

References

[6] Briggs, Adam. 2006. “China’s pollution victims: still seeking a dependable remedy.” Georgetown International Environmental Law Review 18 (2), 305–334.
http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/gintenlr18&div=15&id=&page=

[3] Deng, Yanhua, and Guobin Yang. "Pollution and protest in China: Environmental mobilization in context." The China Quarterly 214 (2013): 321-336.
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/china-quarterly/article/pollution-and-protest-in-china-environmental-mobilization-in-context/8E0B1C7D81B5C57AA93DB4971EABC28D

[10] Deng, Yanhua, and Kevin J. O'Brien. "Societies of senior citizens and popular protest in rural Zhejiang." The China Journal 71 (2014): 172-188.
https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/674559

Links

[2] 浙江东阳环保纠纷冲突真相
http://www.ngocn.net/news/889.html

[1] 百度百科:画溪镇
https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E7%94%BB%E6%BA%AA%E9%95%87

[7] Thousands of Chinese Villagers Protest Factory Pollution
https://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/13/international/asia/thousands-of-chinese-villagers-protest-factory-pollution.html

[8] Chinese Riot Over Pollution
https://cen.acs.org/articles/83/i16/Chinese-Riot-Over-Pollution.html

[9]污染引发冲突事件调查 画水镇一年生了5个怪胎
http://finance.sina.com.cn/xiaofei/puguangtai/20050427/16281556353.shtml

[11]浙江“4.10东阳画水事件”的根源与演变/卢相府
https://www.boxun.com/news/gb/pubvp/2005/10/200510220018.shtml

[13]环境保护事关企业生死存亡
http://jjckb.xinhuanet.com/yw/2007-11/09/content_73229.htm

[14]沉寂5年竹溪工业园现又热闹起来 画水让我重新看你
http://zjnews.zjol.com.cn/05zjnews/system/2010/12/15/017164222.shtml

[5]污染始于规划:叩问浙江东阳画水河事件
http://business.sohu.com/20050510/n225494065.shtml

[4]浙江东阳昨天因环境污染发生万人骚乱
http://www.xys.org/forum/db/77/99.html

[12] Chem plants at Huaxi, China shut after pollution protests
https://www.icis.com/resources/news/2005/04/15/669392/chem-plants-at-huaxi-china-shut-after-pollution-protests/

Other Documents

The overturned buses
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/2005041200041.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update20/04/2018

Images

 

The overturned buses