Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen sent in the riot police to disperse a large crowd of local residents protesting over plans to build a waste disposal plant near their homes, protesters said on Wednesday.
Riot police herded hundreds of protesters onto buses after they gathered outside city government buildings, and detained at least five people in the crackdown, beating others, local residents said.
"I think they detained about five or six people," a protester surnamed Huang told RFA. "They are in the Lianhua police station now."
"The local media won't get involved; we can't get in touch with them," she said.
A resident surnamed He said at least 10 people had been detained, however.
"I heard that more than 10 people were detained," He said. "I was nearly detained myself."
"These protests have been going on for several days, but we still haven't had an answer from the government," he said. "They said they would hold a meeting with local residents next week."
Riot police sent in
Huang, who is a resident of the nearby Jingui residential compound, said riot police had arrived to disperse the crowd around noon on Wednesday.
"We all went to the citizens' center and staged a sit-in, and then the police, the riot police and even the anti-terrorist squad came just before noon and they've been watching us ever since," a Jingui resident surnamed Huang told RFA.
"Then the police chiefs came out and started to divide up the crowd gradually, pushing people onto buses. There were still more than 100 people left outside the citizen center by 2.00 or 3.00 p.m., and then the police came and detained them, too," Huang said.
"An old lady was beaten up and injured, and she is in the hospital now," she said.
Meanwhile, authorities in the central city of Wuhan temporarily halted plans to build a waste processing plant following three days of protests by local residents.
"The urban management office and other departments have just issued a directive saying that the project will be temporarily halted," an official at the Panlongcheng Development Zone told RFA on Wednesday.
"The urban management committee knows about [the protests] and they are doing their jobs," the official said.
Breakneck growth draws complaints
The announcement comes after angry residents poured onto the streets of Panlongcheng in protest over plans to build the waste plant on their doorsteps.
"There [have been] people here protesting morning, noon and night, all generations of residents from our residential district," a protester surnamed Fang told RFA on Wednesday.
Protesters first gathered on the streets on Sunday after the plans were first made public, and continued until Wednesday, Fang said.
"We are protesting because they want to build a waste processing center here; things are getting pretty heated, but we haven't seen a result yet," she said.
"The environment around our residential compound is lovely, and there are primary and secondary schools there too, just across the lake."
"A waste processing plant would affect local residents very badly, because this is where we live ... If they build it here, our air quality and our environment will be affected."
"I saw people heading back there today so I think the protests are still going on today. There aren't so many people there in the daytime, because they are at work, but there are more in the evenings."
Local people are complaining that a policy of breakneck economic growth at all costs pursued by the authorities in recent years has led to severe pollution in the city's scenic lake areas of Shahu, Donghu and Nanhu.
Local waterways have been reduced to stinking, murky eyesores, local people told RFA.
Officials who answered the phone at the Wuhan municipal government offices and the police department declined to comment, saying they had no information from their superiors on the matter.
An officer who answered the phone at the local police station said they couldn't give telephone interviews.
Reported by Ka Pa and Ho Shan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.