小規模的抗議在隨後的幾天中繼續發生，有時抗議者還與警方發生了衝突。人權觀察(Human Rights Watch)呼籲中國政府調查執法部門的反應，該組織援引網上照片中顯示的一些身上有血的抗議者，指出他們看來遭到了手持警棍的警察的腳踢或棍打。
芳烴是製造塑料和聚酯纖維的原料。據美國國家職業安全衛生研究所(U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)的資料，接觸芳烴可能導致皮膚髮紅，誤服則會引起腹痛。
文章指出，「對PX項目的恐慌和對政府的不信任，在每一次反對行動中都被無限地傳播和放大了。」王霜舟(Austin Ramzy)是《紐約時報》記者。Zheng Huang對本文有研究貢獻。
After Protests, City Tries to Ease Fear of Chemical Plant
April 02, 2014
Government officials met Wednesday with popular local bloggers in a town in China’s southeastern Guangdong Province that has been hit by days of protest over plans to build a petrochemical plant. The meeting, part of an effort to reduce residents’ concerns about the plant, comes a day after the vice mayor of Maoming city met with some protesters.
The Maoming government has issued increasingly conciliatory statements, saying the plant, which will produce paraxylene, a chemical used in plastics, will not be constructed if opposition remains widespread. On Sunday a demonstration against the plant, which began peacefully, turned violent when a small number of protesters began throwing rocks at the police. The police moved in to clear out the protesters, and at least 20 people were injured, a local government spokesman said.
ReutersResidents ride past a burning public security kiosk Tuesday during a protest against a chemical plant project in Maoming, China.
Smaller protests have continued in the days since, with demonstrators at times clashing with the police. Human Rights Watch has called on the Chinese government to investigate the law enforcement response, citing online images that showed bloodied demonstrators who had apparently been kicked or struck by riot police wielding batons.
“Accounts and photographs suggest that police may have used disproportionate force against demonstrators in Maoming,” Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, said in a written statement. “Authorities should move swiftly to investigate these claims, and hold those responsible to account.”
Demonstrations against the Maoming plant were also held in the provincial capital of Guangzhou on Tuesday. More than 200 people marched on the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. A few dozen then went to a petition office, where they submitted complaints about the police response to the Maoming protests, according to one participant who would only provide his surname, Xu. “I’m a little bit worried that the officials will just protect each other,” Mr. Xu said by phone.
The Communist Party-run People’s Daily ran an editorial Wednesday urging residents to take a calmer attitude toward the factory, saying that China needs to increase its paraxylene production, and that the chemical “really isn’t dangerous.”
Paraxylene is a precursor for the manufacture of plastics and polyester. It can cause skin redness on contact and abdominal pain if ingested, according to the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The chemical and its production have been at the forefront of environmental protests in China. In 2007 demonstrators in Xiamen protested plans to build a PX plant in their coastal city and succeeded in having it moved inland. Their movement was cited as an inspiration for protests against chemical plants by residents in Dalian, Ningbo and Kunming.
Concern about the Maoming plant, which is a project of the local government and a local branch of the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec Limited, has been continuing for nearly five years, according to a report in the China Daily.
“We should learn from citizens in Xiamen to join hands to oppose such a chemical project that has a high potential of pollution,” a Maoming resident told the state-run newspaper in 2009.
In recent months some Chinese media outlets have urged protesters to not fear the expansion of paraxylene plants, saying the risks posed by the chemical don’t match the fears expressed in many Chinese cities.
Last year People’s Daily ran an article that said the lack of growth in China’s PX production was forcing the country to rely on growing imports from Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. It said production of the material was safe, with no major accidents reported.
“Since the first PX plant was built in Shanghai in 1985, domestically at least 10 have been added,” the paper said. “At present they are all operating normally, with no major accidents.”
On the same morning the People’s Daily article was published, an explosion ripped through a PX plant in Zhangzhou, in Fujian Province, terrifying people who lived nearby but causing no injuries. The plant was the same facility that had been relocated from Xiamen after the 2007 protests.
In an editorial written after the Zhangzhou explosion, the Southern Metropolitan Daily said that residents’ lack of expertise, combined with the interest of local governments in pushing through projects despite safety concerns, contributed to widespread suspicion. It called for more transparency over future projects.
“Every time there is a protest, the panic over PX projects and mistrust in government expands,” it said.