Islanders Block China Port Plans

Hundreds of Chinese villagers vow to block construction work at a major international container port.
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ZHEJIANG, China: Hundreds of residents of island villages stage a sit-in at construction site.
ZHEJIANG, China: Hundreds of residents of island villages stage a sit-in at construction site.
Photo: Volunteer
HONG KONG—Hundreds of residents of island villages in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang are staging a sit-in at the construction site of a planned U.S. $160 million international container terminal in a bid to win compensation for lost access to the shore.

The protesters, who say they make a living from the beach by collecting shellfish and launching their fishing boats there, are from Zhuangyuanao village, Dongtou island, near the eastern coastal city of Wenzhou.

"We have been here since Oct. 20," a resident at the protest scene surnamed Zhuang said.

"They have surrounded us on all sides, and now we have no way to make a living. We are staying here until we get some compensation from them. Right now there are 500 to 600 people here," he said.

The Dongtou islanders, who were displaying placards showing how long the sit-in had gone on, vowed to remain at the site until the government sends representatives to talk to them.

Vow to stay put

Another protester said: "We will stay here until the government sorts this problem out. But they haven't responded to us yet, nor have they sent anyone to talk to us."

The protesters are sitting in on land intended for use in the construction of the planned 1.096 billion yuan (U.S. $160 million) Zhuangyuanao Deepwater Port.

Phases I, II, and III of the project were planned in 2004 on a total area of 4,570 mu (761 hectares) of land and shoreline adjacent to Zhuangyuanao and other villages.

The villagers say they first began to demand compensation from the government in 2006, but the authorities said that shoreline is public land, and that no compensation was required.

Source of income

But the villagers said their homes are right on the beach, which is an important source of income for them and a space where they can work.

Calls to deputy Communist Party secretary Dong of Dongtou county were cut off Wednesday when the person who answered hung up.

The village Party branch secretary said: "I don't know." Pressed further, he hung up.

Work began in 2005 on the Zhuangyuanao Deepwater Port, which local officials hope will transform Wenzhou from a river port to a fully competitive seaport.

The Phase I project alone has a planned annual capacity of 200,000 containers and 700,000 tonnes of bulk cargo.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Xin Yu. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.





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