Police fired tear gas during large-scale clashes between villagers and riot police in Shantou, Guangdong province over the construction of a waste incinerator on Saturday.

Over 1,000 police were dispatched after a mass protest began in the city of Shantou, in the east of Guangdong. Some police vehicles were burned by protesters, dozens of whom were arrested, Cable News reported.

Stun grenade and tear gas canisters retrieved by protesters. Photo: Radio Free Asia

On Saturday residents of the city’s Chaoyang district heard a police warning that they were about to enter their village. In response, many villagers gathered and blocked the road using gas cylinders.

The following day, police advanced into the village, which became the scene of violent clashes as demonstrators smashed police vehicles and threw rocks and stones at riot police, a local resident told the US-backed Radio Free Asia.

Police on alert in Shantou standoff. Photo: Sing Tao

The villagers had been striking for two weeks and students had also been boycotting classes for a week in an attempt to prevent construction of the incinerator from going ahead. Many villagers were reportedly arrested for protesting and disseminating information online.

Villagers used gas cylinders as road blocks. Photo: Weibo

An official from the Jinzao township government offices said on Monday that all was now quiet in the area, Radio Free Asia reported. “The situation has calmed down now; it’s all quiet,” said the official.

Guangdong is no stranger to clashes over environmental issues. According to the Chinese language newspaper Sing Tao, similar protests were initiated by eleven other villages in Shantou’s Chaoyang district in 2013.

In 2014, authorities in Puzhai township cancelled plans to build an incinerator after protests and violent clashes between protesters and police.

Koel Chu

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.