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Chinese pollution protesters clash with police over paper factory

Agence France Presse - July 29, 2012

Qidong, China Thousands of people demonstrating against alleged pollution from a paper factory in east China clashed with police yesterday, the latest in a series of environmental protests.

The protesters overturned two cars and invaded the local government offices in the coastal city of Qidong, near Shanghai.

Demonstrators seized bottles of alcohol from the offices along with cartons of cigarettes, items that Chinese officials frequently receive as bribes.

Thousands of people had gathered in a square in front of the offices and in adjacent streets early yesterday morning, with armed police arriving soon after.

Following the clashes, police said in their microblog that the pipeline from the paper mill, which belongs to Japanese company Oji Paper, would be "permanently closed" and called on the demonstrators to go home.

Oji Paper, however, denied that its plant was causing pollution and said closing the 110-kilometre pipeline would not affect operations at the plant, located in Nantong, Jiji Press news agency reported.

Protests against environmental degradation have increased in China, where three decades of rapid and unfettered industrial expansion have taken their toll.

"There are people everywhere, on walls, cars, rooftops, in streets," said a microblog user, adding that "the air is filled with the smell of alcohol, and there are sounds of breaking glass".

Similar incidents are reported regularly around China.

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