News / Asia

    As Opposition Grows, China Defends Plans for Petrochemical Plants

    A man carrying a girl on his shoulder holds up a paper reading "PX (paraxylene petrochemicals) get out of Maoming, return us clean land", as demonstrators gather to protest against a chemical plant project, near the city government building in Maoming, Gu
    A man carrying a girl on his shoulder holds up a paper reading "PX (paraxylene petrochemicals) get out of Maoming, return us clean land", as demonstrators gather to protest against a chemical plant project, near the city government building in Maoming, Gu
    Reuters
    China has launched an intense media campaign to defend the safety of producing a chemical used to make polyester fiber, as public opposition to new petrochemical plants threatens to disrupt expansion plans by state energy giants.
     
    Choking smog and environmental degradation in many parts of China is angering an increasingly educated and affluent urban class, and after a series of health scares and accidents there is deepening public skepticism of the safety of industries ranging from food to energy.
     
    Illustrating this distrust, hundreds of residents in the southern Chinese city of Maoming demonstrated this month against plans to build a petrochemical plant to produce paraxylene, known as PX, a chemical used in making polyester fiber and plastics.
     
    The plant is backed by the local government and China's biggest refiner, state-controlled Sinopec.
     
    China is the world's largest producer and consumer of PX and polyester, vital for the country's textile industry, which generated $290 billion of overseas sales, or 13 percent of China's total exports last year, according to customs data.
     
    State television, CCTV, last week aired six short features showing staff reporters visiting petrochemical facilities in Japan, South Korea and Singapore producing PX in a bid to assure the public over safety.
     
    China's state-dominated oil and petrochemical sector has had a poor safety record in the last decade.
     
    Accidents have included a gas well explosion in the sprawling municipality of Chongqing in 2003 that killed 234, a 2005 chemical leak into a river in Jilin that poisoned drinking water and a pipeline explosion in Qingdao that killed 62 last November.
     
    “The reason why the industry has lost credibility is not that it hasn't carried out public relations or education work properly, but because of repeated accidents,” said Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, an independent environmental group.
     
    China still relies heavily on importing PX. Last year, China imported just over 9 million tons worth about $18 billion, mainly from South Korea, Singapore and Japan, exceeding domestic output of 8.3 million tons.
     
    There have been demonstrations in six Chinese cities since 2007 against plans for PX plants, forcing at least one plant to relocate and another two to be shelved or canceled.
     
    The state media campaign on television and online has sought to reassure the public over the safety of PX.
     
    One CCTV broadcast showed a middle-aged man taking a stroll at a beachside park in Singapore, across from the city state's chemical hub of Jurong Island, saying he liked walking in the park because “the air there was fresh.”
     
    A CCTV story headlined “Telling you the truth on PX” said that countries such as the United States did not treat PX as a toxic chemical.
     
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says effects from exposure to the xylene group of chemicals derived from refining oil - including mixed xylene and paraxylene - can range from nose and throat irritation to memory impairment, though they are not classified as cancer-inducing.
     
    Cao Xianghong, a former senior vice president at Sinopec, told a government-backed conference of nearly 300 participants on PX that the petrochemical industry had to share some of the blame for the public concerns, particularly in the way safety and environmental issues have been managed.
     
    “The serious pollution cases and accidents that the industry has had have naturally scared people,” Cao said at the PX forum last week organized by the China Association for Science and Technology.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora