Edited by Teresa Wright
Among the numerous environmental issues spurring collective contention in post-Mao China, anti-nuclear concerns were almost non-existent until roughly a decade ago. In 2013, a rare and relatively large-scale protest of this kind erupted in Jiangmen, Guangdong province, prompting authorities to scrap plans for a uranium processing plant. Another anti-nuclear demonstration took place in 2016 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, when large crowds protested against a nuclear waste processing facility, leading political leaders to temporarily suspend construction. Drawing on media reports and material gathered by the two authors, this chapter outlines the birth of this new kind of environmental protest, beginning with the origins of an anti-nuclear movement in China (and comparing it with its counterparts in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan) and then examining one of the two main anti-nuclear protests that have occurred so far—the most recent from 2016. In particular, the chapter dissects the methods of resistance and collective action repertoires employed in this case, and the state’s response to rising social tensions over the issue. In so doing, the chapter also assesses public perceptions of risk with regard to nuclear energy in a country where, so far, perception of said hazards seems to have been very low. What has prompted a change, and why exactly in these places, is the focus of this chapter.
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