China protesters plead guilty over environment protest

BEIJING (AFP) - Fourteen people pleaded guilty to "inciting violence" in connection with demonstrations in eastern China last year against a factory waste water pipeline, state media said Thursday.

Police clashed with scores of protesters who stormed government buildings and damaged property in the coastal city of Qidong last July, in one of a series of environmental protests in China.

The proposals by the paper factory's Japanese owners, which demonstrators claimed would lead to sea pollution, were scrapped.

But the 14 defendants, who will be sentenced at a later date, "should be held responsible for their actions," prosecutors said Wednesday, according to a dispatch by Xinhua on Thursday.

"Prosecutors said their violent behaviour caused property losses, injured police officers and severely disrupted public order," the report by the state-run agency said.

Demonstrations against environmental degradation have increased in China, where three decades of rapid and unfettered industrial expansion have taken their toll.

Similar incidents are reported regularly around the country, many over environmental concerns that people say are linked to corruption, but authorities typically quash the protests and push ahead with the projects.

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