China allows protest against planned refinery

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More than 2,000 people in southern China yesterday unfurled banners in a demonstration against plans for an oil refinery.

The gathering in central Kunming – the second one in the city this month – was largely peaceful, though minor scuffles occurred with police.

Witnesses said at least two people were briefly detained, though it was noted that authorities made no effort to end the rally.

Vice mayor He Bo even tried to meet the demonstrators, but his attempts to explain the refinery project to the crowd were cut short by the shouting of one protester.

Kunming officials said that the refinery planned by powerful state company PetroChina Co will meet environment standards and is crucial for the local economy, but residents are worried about resulting air and water pollution.

One resident said: “We don’t need speedy development. What we need is a healthy and peaceful country.”