Renewed protests against China chemical plant

Protesters and police outside government offices in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, 29 October 2012 Protests are still taking place outside government offices in Ningbo

Protesters in China have gathered once more against the planned expansion of a chemical plant, even as local officials said the project would be shelved.

The protests in Ningbo City, Zhejiang province, were smaller and more peaceful than in recent days, when thousands clashed with riot police.

Residents had raised concerns about the health risks from pollution.

Despite promises from local officials that they would not continue with the project, some remain unconvinced.

"The government's resolution [to halt the factory] is the initial victory we achieved, but the government lacks the public's trust so this decision cannot be believed," a protester told the Agence France-Presse news agency by phone.

Protests related to environmental issues have been increasing by 29% since the late 1990s, says state-run China Daily newspaper, citing a lecture delivered by an expert at the National People's Congress on Friday.

"The rapid rise in the number of environmental protests points to two conflicting tendencies: citizens' awakening environmental awareness and some local authorities' obsession with economic growth, even if it comes at the cost of the environment," it added.

State-run newspaper Global Times also called on local governments to have more consultation with residents.

"An open, transparent, effective and legal procedure should be set up and new projects should only be started after winning support from most of the locals," it said.

Police had dispersed more than 1000 protesters against the expansion of the petrochemical plant over the weekend . On Monday, reports say, about 200 protesters gathered outside government offices.

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