MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2006-07-18


China Update

18th July 2006

Last week, according to a report by the New York-based international journa,l Epoch Times, residents protesting against a proposed manganese factory in Guangxi province were savagely attacked by Chinese police, leaving a dozen injured and eight under arrest.

So much, one might think, for the regime's almost-daily claims that it is taking threats of pollution seriously.

More initiatives are announced to clean up the country's appalling environmental mess and prevent adding to it, with a US$175 billion clean water and air programme, and the banning of smallscale coal-to-liquid fuel plants.

But, according to a UN spokesperson, China - along with India - still isn't yet taking the threat of global warming seriously enough.


Thousand Armed Police Quell Protest against Manganese Processing Plant*

By Li Xi The Epoch Times

18th July 2006

http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/6-7-18/44037.html

CHINA - For over a decade, manganese (Mn) mining and industry have caused severe pollution to Heishui River in Xialei Town, Guangxi Province. Recently the CITIC Group spent 150 million yuan (~US$19 million) to build a Mn electrolysis factory about 333 ft away from Xialei Town. The residents from Xialei Town strongly objected and went on a protest. On June 28, the CITIC Group and the local government mobilized almost a thousand armed police from nearby counties. Eight were arrested and a dozen injured by electric batons.

The CITIC Dameng Mining Industries Ltd. built the Mn electrolysis factory upstream of the Heishui River. There is a water company, a school and residential district in the vicinity. The poisonous waste water from the factory will contaminate the residents' water once released to the Heishui River. On June 27, residents from Xialei Town went to the construction site and sat in front of the gate to stop the construction of the factory.

1000 Police Mobilized from Five Towns in Chongzuo City

At 4 a.m. on June 28, the local police arrested two people. One named Mo Jinlin and other was unidentified. Over 1,000 residents gathered in front of the town hall after learning about the arrest. They asked the mayor of the town to order the public safety bureau to release those arrested.

By noon, the public safety bureau sent in about seven large vehicles and over a hundred cars carrying over a thousand riot police, civil police, and policemen. It is known that these police came from five nearby towns in Chongzuo City.

According to a local resident Mr. Nong, the police had truncheons and shields. As soon as they arrived, they started to beat the residents and shocked them with electric batons. Women, children, and the elderly were not spared. Dozens were injured and six arrested. They are currently jailed in the Daxin County Detention Center.

Mo Zhenmin was the most seriously injured during this incident. The scene was chaotic and the police hit whoever came across. An old man laid on the ground, wounded and Mo, in order to save that man, was hit by a police and passed out immediately. Mo was sent to the People's hospital in Daxin County. Two police watched Mo while he was hospitalized for six days. Mo is now recovering at home.

Amongst the six arrested, one of them was Mo's elder brother Mo Zhensheng and one was a village secretary and supervisor of the village commission with last name Huang. Huang was removed from his position after the incident.

Silent, Seated Residents Charged with Besieging the Government

Mo's wife, Ms. Ma, told the reporter, "We just wanted to reason with the officials and to try and stop the CITIC Group from building the factory. The police accused the residents of besieging the government. In fact, those residents were not armed. They were just sitting there."

Ma said: "Among the armed police sent to quell the protest on that day, some of them were not police officials. They were hired by the CITIC Group for 20 yuan (US$2.5) a day to beat the residents. If anything happened, the official policemen can then avoid responsibility." She said, "In this incident, those who came out to speak are put a blacklist. The public safety bureau is still investigating. Many people are afraid and can't go home now."

A resident Mr. Huang said: "The two who were arrested first have been released. Six were arrested later. Two of them were husband and wife. They saw a man fell on the ground and helped him up and ended up being arrested. They have been released too. The remaining four are still under criminal detention."

Mining Causes Serious Water Pollution in Xialei Town

Mr. Nong, a resident, said that since Guangxi Province was opened for economic reform, numerous factories had moved in. However, the government's pollution prevention measures didn't catch up and for the past decade, the residents have been drinking polluted water from Heishui River. Many people have been made ill and died from liver related diseases. The death rate is quite high.

The only water resource in Xialei Town is the Heishui River. This river is polluted by the mining, and the air is severely contaminated too.

Mr. Huang, a resident said: "How are we going to survive once the sulfuric acid factory (CITIC Mining) moved in? The rich and powerful don't care about our safety and wants to set up a hazardous factory here. This corrupted government doesn't care about public opinion and would agree to build a factory if it could benefit from it. What the government did was against the law."

The reporter interviewed Mr. Zhao an employee of the Daxin Mining Co owned by CITIC Group. Zhao said, "The residents protested because they live here. As for whether the construction will continue, upper level officials have yet to decide. "

It is known that the construction is still ongoing and no one from the government is taking care of the medical expenses of the injured residents.

Residents Hope for International Aid to Overcome Citic Group Influence The China CITIC Group was formerly known as the China International Trust and Investment Corporation. It was approved and promoted by Deng Xiaoping, a former Chinese leader, and founded by Rong Yiren, former Chinese Vice President. CITIC Dameng Mining Ltd. is a Chinese-foreign joint venture between CITIC Resources Holdings Ltd., a listed company in Hong Kong and GuangXi Dameng Manganese Ltd. It was established in Aug 2005 in Chongzuo City.

Mr. Nong, a resident, said: "Some companies, in order to reduce cost, didn't take environmental protection measures and caused irreversible damages to the local ecology. Also, some local government officials, in order to obtain political gains, focus only on economic results and turned a deaf ear to industrial pollution. Some government officials even volunteered to protect industries that cause environmental pollution."

Residents from Xialei Town hope the international community can give them a helping hand so as to enable them to continue living there.


China to Invest US$175 Billion in Environment Clean-Up

PlanetArk CHINA

19th July 2006

BEIJING - China plans to invest 1.4 trillion yuan (US$175 billion) in environmental protection in the next five years, state media said on Tuesday, to curb water and air pollution so severe it causes riots and health problems.

The money -- equivalent to about 1.5 percent of GDP -- is to be spent on measures including control of water pollution, improving air quality in cities and halting soil erosion, the official Xinhua news agency quoted He Bingguang, of the State Development and Reform Commission, as saying.

Sewage treatment plants would be built in 10 river valleys to dispose of waste water discharged by urban areas and part of the funds would also be used to reduce sulphur dioxide and dust in major cities.

China is home to 20 of the world's 30 most smog-choked cities. The country also faces serious pollution of its soil, Xinhua added, saying that the problem threatens China's food safety, people's health and the sustainable development of agriculture.

"It is estimated that nationwide 12 million tonnes of grain are polluted by heavy metals that have found their way into soil each year," Xinhua quoted Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, as saying in a separate report.

China produced about 484 million tonnes of grain in 2005. The country has been struggling to curb its environmental degradation, the product of more than two decades of near-double-digit annual growth.

Its pollution woes became a subject of international concern last November when a toxic spill poisoned the Songhua river, a source of drinking water for millions. (US$1 = 8 yuan) (Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby in Shanghai)

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


China to Ban Small Scale Coal-to-Liquid Plants

PlanetArk CHINA

19th July 2006

BEIJING - China will ban small scale projects converting coal to liquids as excessive development of the fossil fuel pollutes the environment and strains water supply, said a government circular seen on Tuesday.

Beijing will not approve plants under 3 million tonnes per year (tpy) to process coal into transportation fuels, or projects under 1 million tpy to convert coal into methanol, a blending component for petrol, the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement seen on www.gov.cn.

Plants under 1 million tpy to produce dimethyl ether (DME), a diesel substitute derived from coal, and projects to make olefins from coal under 600,000 tpy will also be banned, said the report published on July 14. Olefins are basic petrochemicals.

China is the world's largest producer of coal, which fuels about 70 percent of the energy needs of the world's fourth-largest economy.

The recent oil rally toward US$80 a barrel has spurred a wave of coal liquefaction projects, but unchecked growth of the sector would damage China's already deteriorating environment, analysts said.

"All these projects have never counted in the environmental cost. Once oil prices collapse, they would all be doomed," said Yan Kefeng, of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).

Coal-to-oil plants, for instance, produce large amounts of carbon dioxide. And all coal liquefaction projects are highly water consuming.

"Water resource would be a main deterring factor for the coal liquefaction sector. It's also a main deterrent to China's economic and social development," said the report, adding that water resource per capita in China's coal-producing areas is one-tenth of the national average.

The report said China already has 9 million tpy of methanol capacity and more than 10 million tpy being planned and proposed, a size set for overhang.

The chemical is used in some Chinese provinces to blend into gasoline, which are at record-high prices. But the liquid, already banned in some states in the United States, corrodes engines, said CERA's Yan.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


INTERVIEW - China, India Not Ready to Cut Emissions - UN Official

PlanetArk FINLAND

18th July 2006

ESPOO, Finland - Developing countries are unlikely to commit to curbing their rising carbon emissions because they believe rich nations are not doing enough to tackle global warming, a top United Nations official said on Monday.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Britain's Guardian newspaper last week he wanted to bring five fast-growing nations into the G8 group of industrialised countries to help secure a new global deal on climate change for when the UN Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gases runs out in 2012.

The countries were China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. But any such grouping would not offer a quick route to persuading developing countries to tackle their emissions, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told Reuters during an international climate change conference in Finland.

"There is a lack of credibility at this point in time because a number of developing countries, especially those that are growing rapidly, feel that the developed countries really haven't done enough and this is just a means by which the burden will be shifted onto (their) shoulders," he said.

Before taking action to reduce their own environmental impact, developing countries are likely to put more pressure on the United States -- which has refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol -- to make a bigger effort to reduce its emissions, Pachauri said.

They would also likely demand more help with technology to improve energy efficiency, and increased development assistance, he added. "Certainly a forum of this nature would be useful but it's going to be a bumpy road, and if anyone thinks merely getting these people in the tent is going to solve these problems, then there's going to be some disappointment," he said.

China has become the second biggest source of carbon emissions in the world after the United States. But across China and India, around 800 million people still do not have access to electricity, making it politically difficult for their governments to set limits on carbon emissions, Pachauri said.

These countries are more likely to agree to less restrictive measures such as targets for the amount of electric power that will come from renewable sources, according to the climate change expert.

US President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, saying it wrongly set no emissions limits for developing nations and would cost US jobs.

But Pachauri said he expected Washington to show stronger engagement with the global framework that succeeds the Kyoto Protocol.

"I see a lot of change taking place in the United States. There are a large number of states, several cities and even companies that are getting active in this area - so it's really a matter of time before public perceptions and desires get a different outcome from the federal government as well."

He added that concerns about energy security are also likely to drive developed country governments to search for alternatives to carbon-heavy fossil fuels.

Story by Megan Rowling

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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