Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden
Chapter 23: Social movements and political citizenship in China
On Environment Day, 5 June 2007, about 1000 residents of Liulitun in the Haidian District of Beijing made an organized petition to the National and Beijing government units against plans to construct a waste incineration plant near their homes. They wore T-shirts printed with the slogan, ‘No waste incineration plants at Liulitun’, and also displayed posters that read ‘We refuse cancer’, ‘Oppose incinerating garbage’ and ‘We want good health’. The opposing residents were mostly middle-class homeowners living in well-built estates. They began organizing their campaign and peaceful protests in early 2006 through internet forums. Moreover, to place additional pressure on the government to respond, they took legal measures including filing an environmental administrative litigation law suit, which was accompanied by a collective petition letter signed by 137 residents. The homeowners also successfully put the issue on the political agenda of the Beijing People’s Congress and Haidian People’s Political Consultative Conference, and developed a media strategy to defend their environmental interests. Within several weeks, prestigious national newspapers published articles supporting the residents’ concerns, focusing on three issues in particular: the necessity of establishing public consultation; how far the Beijing administration is accountable for the Haidian government’s environmental governance; and the extent to which decisions should be based on scientific grounds and the involvement of public participation.
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