By Bill Savadove
A major anti-pollution protest has forced the Chinese government to take swift action for the second time in as many months, spurred by a rising environment movement that is spreading online.
More than 500 residents living near a plant making solar panels protested for three days last week in the eastern city of Haining, forcing authorities to temporarily shut the factory, which belongs to the US-listed Jinko Solar.
The incident came just over a month after authorities in the northeastern city of Dalian agreed to relocate a chemical plant following similar protests, underscoring official concern over mounting public anger about pollution.
“Citizens, particularly a rising Chinese middle class, have become more aware about how deep the impact of environmental issues is to their health,” said Phelim Kine, senior Asia researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch.
“They are no longer willing to take it passively.”
Protests against pollution are not new to China, as breakneck economic growth over the past three decades has caused severe degradation of air, land and water.
But the growth of social networking, in particular Twitter-like “weibo” or microblogs, has helped spread the word about environmental issues and mobilize protests against perceived polluters.
Wong Yiu-chung, a politics professor at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said the shutdown of plants in Haining and Dalian was directly linked to the rising power of the Internet.
To read full article go to source as cross-posted from here