Violence has broken out between the police and thousands of villagers in Guangdong protesting over the building of a trash incinerator.

Villagers in Yangchun, Guangdong have been protesting since October 3, blocking the highway leading to the incinerator. Many demonstrators have been arrested. Clashes intensified this week when villagers knocked over a police vehicle and set it on fire, Apple Daily reported.

The Conch Cement Company had concealed the fact that it was building and testing an incinerator facility in its factory area. The gases and contaminants generated, such as dioxin, would affect the residents who lived nearby, according to US-backed Radio Free Asia.

“How will we survive breathing in noxious smoke?” an Internet firm employee told Reuters earlier this month.

Photo: Weibo.

The building of the incinerator was seen as a sign of corruption and collusion between government officials and businesses as it was reportedly pushed through without having undergone an environmental impact assessment. The public had not been informed of the project beforehand and it was also not subjected to government supervision, Stand News reported.

Videos and pictures on social media showed thousands of protesters gathered at the door of the company’s factory, holding red flags and bats. The police were reported to have used tear gas and arrested many of the protesters. Vehicles had been burnt, and many police officers and protesters were injured in the clashes.

Photo: Weibo.

Protests over environmental issues are common in China, especially in Guangdong. CNA News reported that a similar incident had happened this year when thousands protested over the building of an incinerator in Wuchuan, Zhanjiang in Guangdong.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.