Two have been detained in Hunan province after allegedly planning and inciting an illegal assembly on Monday. It marks the third environmental protest in central China in the past three days.

According to a post by the Ningxiang county police’s WeChat official account, four people in their twenties and early thirties were using a WeChat group chat they had created to gather a group of people in front of the county’s government buildings in protest of a waste incineration plant.

Ningxiang protest
People gather in front of Ningxiang government buildings. Photo: Weibo.

The group was planning to assemble again Tuesday morning. Two men have been taken into custody and the police are looking for two others involved.

“They used illegal methods to reflect their concerns, delude, plan, and incite an illegal gathering, march, and protest. They have seriously disrupted social order and harmed Ningxiang’s image.”

The post claimed some of the organisers had altered photos and videos to spread false information.

People gather in front of Ningxiang government offices. Photos: Weibo.

The official account also posted another notice at the same time saying it will proceed with the power plant, though it has ordered relevant authorities to provide further evidence of the project’s environmental impact and hold a public hearing. It said it would respect the wishes of the people and respect science.

“Regarding the recent use of the internet to purposely spread rumours and incite, the law enforcement departments are investigating and will target [this behaviour] according to the law. We ask netizens to tell right from wrong and together maintain a harmonious, stable society.”

xiantao protests
Protests in Xiantao over the weekend. Photo: Weibo via Apple Daily.

Environmental protests

Several protests over environmental concerns have taken place in the past few days in neighbouring Hubei province. Early Monday morning, the mayor of Xiantao city suspended the construction of a household waste incineration plant due to a demonstration on Sunday. Around 10,000 people were involved. A resident told Reuters that several protesters were injured in clashes with riot police.

qianjiang RFA
The protest on Monday in Qianjiang. Photo: RFA.

In the nearby city of Qianjiang, tens of thousands marched on Monday to protest a pesticide plant. The local municipal government announced they would stop the construction of the plant an hour into the march, according to Sing Tao.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.