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China detains 60 people over incinerator protest

China detained 60 people on Monday for their role in a violent demonstration that prompted officials to promise to suspend construction of a waste incinerator, local police said.

BEIJING: China detained 60 people on Monday for their role in a violent demonstration that prompted officials to promise to suspend construction of a waste incinerator, local police said.

The protest in the eastern city of Hangzhou over the weekend marked the latest eruption of popular frustration with the environmental damage that has accompanied decades of breakneck development.

Chinese authorities have increasingly sought to address public concerns about the pollution and health hazards wrought by years of industrial expansion, but they also vigilantly repress any social unrest that might threaten their grip on power.

"Fifty-three suspects were criminally detained in accordance with the law," city police said on their official microblog account. Eleven people had turned themselves in, it added, although they may have been included in the total 53.

Their charges included disrupting public order, obstructing public business and "picking fights and provoking trouble".

Separately, it said, "Hangzhou police put seven people under administrative detention for spreading rumours online," who would be held for five to 10 days each.

The protesters clashed with hundreds of officers at a rally on Saturday, leaving at least 10 demonstrators and 29 police injured, state media reported.

More than 30 vehicles were overturned during the standoff, with residents setting two police cars on fire and smashing up another four, the official Xinhua news agency said.

On Sunday the Yuhang district government, which is part of Hangzhou, said the construction of the incinerator would stop if it did not have the support of the local population.

But some protesters met the pledge with scepticism and vowed to continue to oppose the project.

Hangzhou, a city of nine million people built around the scenic West Lake, is a hugely popular tourist spot. But its popularity has been eroded in recent years by air pollution, which also plagues the capital Beijing and other cities.

In April state media said police detained 18 people over massive rallies opposing a chemical plant in Maoming in the southern province of Guangdong after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets for days of protests. 

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