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New Public Protests Rock Coastal China


A protester, center, holds up a placard reading: 'Supporting Wukan villagers, democracy autonomy' during a candlelight vigil outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong to support the Wukan villagers, December 20, 2011.

A protester, center, holds up a placard reading: 'Supporting Wukan villagers, democracy autonomy' during a candlelight vigil outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong to support the Wukan villagers, December 20, 2011.

Thousands of protesters in a fishing town in coastal China blocked an expressway Tuesday, in a tense standoff with riot police over pollution from a planned coal-fired power plant.

Witnesses in the Guangdong provincial town of Haimen say riot police used tear gas to disperse the angry crowds gathered near government buildings. The Associated Press reports demonstrators hurled rocks and bricks at the security force, and says photos circulating on the Internet showed protesters and police injured and bleeding.

Tuesday's outburst is the second protest in two weeks in coastal southeastern China. Thousands of protesters in the nearby village of Wukan drove local authorities out nearly two weeks ago, seizing control of the village to protest widely suspected land grabs by local officials.

In apparent moves to ease tensions in the region, Beijing on Tuesday ordered local governments to reduce emissions of "major pollutants" from 2007 levels by as much as 10 percent by 2015.

Separately in Wukan, villagers under police blockade who have effectively been governing themselves for weeks were set to meet Wednesday with a provincial Communist Party official, in a new attempt to resolve the standoff.

Protests in China over corruption, pollution, wages and land seizures have become more common in recent years, in part, analysts say, because of the spiraling growth of the Internet. China currently ranks first in Internet use, with more than 450 million Internet users.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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