Chinese city halts petrochem plant study

BEIJING • The authorities in China's eastern Longkou city have dropped plans for an environment feasibility study in a project jointly planned with a Singapore company, following protests over possible health and environment risks.

Media reports said the project was a petrochemical industrial park planned jointly by China's Nanshan Group and urban developer Surbana Jurong.

The government of Longkou, in Shandong province, dropped plans for the study after hundreds of people living nearby reportedly marched in protest. Pictures posted on Chinese social media this week showed protesters holding up cloth banners which read: "This is still our home" and "Protect the environment".

Reuters reported that the city government said in a statement on Wednesday: "Based on the opinions reflected by the populace, the plans for the environmental study have already been ceased."

Nanshan Group was not available for comment.

Surbana Jurong told The Straits Times it did not have a direct stake in the project. "Surbana Jurong is the concept masterplanning consultant to the Nanshan Group for this project," a spokesman said.

The project study comes as Beijing aims to experiment with "mixed ownership", or partial privatisation, in its state-controlled energy sector to boost efficiency and drive greener growth, Reuters said.

China is the world's largest producer and consumer of paraxylene and polyester, vital ingredients for the textile and plastics industry. But plants producing such petrochemicals often faced demonstrations prompted by fears they could harm the environment and health of nearby residents.

Last June, thousands of people rallied in Jinshan, 60 km from Shanghai, against plans to build a chemical plant by a private investor-led Chinese group.

The US$15 billion (S$20.5 billion) complex was to be China's first and largest energy installation built by a non-state investor, Reuters said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese city halts petrochem plant study'. Print Edition | Subscribe