A Protest in Beijing Wins an Official Apology

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A recent environmental protest in Beijing has won an official apology from city authorities. On Aug. 30 dozens of people in Beijing’s eastern Chaoyang district demonstrated against a landfill that they said was polluting the air and depressing property values.

The past two years have seen a number of high-profile environmental protests in China. Last year residents of the coastal city of Xiamen mobilized against plans to build a chemical plant. Construction of the plant was halted, then plans were announced to move it to a less populated area to the south. That touched off further protest. In May residents of the southwestern city of Chengdu held a march to protest plans to build a chemical plant. That action led to the detention of some of organizers.

Last week’s Beijing action seems to have action seems to have achieved some of its goals. At a news conference yesterday the head of the district’s utility committee apologized for the smell coming from the 40-hectare dump and pledged to improve the situation within the next 20 days, Xinhua reported. Additionally, the government plans to spend $13 million to cover the refuse with a membrane.

Protest may have been forbidden during the Olympics, but Beijingers haven’t completely lost their voice.