Was the response by Chinese government to Ningbo protest justified?
With the growing market of petroleum products, the Chinese government had intentions to expand the petroleum refinery plant in Ningbo. The environmentalists in this part of the country could not take this in the name of pollution and environmental degradation. They organized protests having involved “crowds of people protesting over a chemical factory” (Chinese protest over chemical factory par. 1). Such action resulted in the government calling of its plans to extend the refinery.
However, the protests did not stop; the environmentalists continued arguing that they did not trust the government, and despite having halted the extension plan, they still went ahead to carry out the extension. On the third day, the protesters were still on the streets which prompted the government to try and quash the protests. This resulted in a violent crush between the protesters and the police. The situation led to the question whether the response by the police was justified or the actions taken were inappropriate. This essay supports the opinion that the government was justified in their actions, and the use of force to quell the protests was necessary.
Support for government actions
The main reason why the protesters planned and held the demonstrations were to stop the government from implementing the proposed extensions of the petroleum refinery plant. Even though the government had yielded to their demands and halted the extensions, the protesters did not stop the protests and carried on the third day. According to law, these protests were illegal and, from the point of view of common sense, baseless and unprecedented. The government did the right thing to intervene and stop the protests because, with the absence of any authentic reason for the protests to continue, there was a chance that they would have come out of hand, resulting in unwarranted destructions and growing to uncontrollable levels.
With the protests proceeding on the third day with no signs of stopping, it was the right time for the government to intervene. According to the Washington Post newspaper, the protests were swelling on the third day (Waldmeir n. pag.).
This evidently presented an economical risk. Based on the report in the Washington Post newspaper, the riot was the latest in the year (Waldmeir n. pag.). This had come at a time when the province of Zhenjiang was facing economical challenges and decline in property value. To let the riots continue would also mean to allow a further decline in the property value in the province. It is common knowledge that riots and protests scare investors away, highly affecting business.
The other point that supports the government actions is the fact that China was in competition with the western countries, particularly the United States of America. The nations compete in economics as well as ideology. China is communist while the USA is capitalist. The two are in constant efforts to prove their systems and ideas are the best. This explains why the Chinese government made a tactically fast decision to give in to the demands of the people. When the protests continued, the government had no choice but to use force to suppress them. If the riots were allowed to continue, then they would have a negative impact on the economy, which happens to be the main measure of the success of the systems and ideas held by the country in comparison to the western systems and ideas.
Lastly, within the period at which the riots were taking place which was a campaign season, it was necessary to put down the protests as soon as possible. In most countries, campaign seasons are known to be the most venerable to violence. With a single incidence of mismanagement, discontent with the government could easily spread to the rest of the state. The best way to stop this unwarranted industrial action was to use force to stop it.
Arguments against government actions
Those who are against the actions by the government and support the primary reason for the protests argue that the government acts without first seeking the opinion of the people. Their argument means that the decision to extend the state-owned petroleum refinery plant was done without the knowledge of the people. Secondly, the government did not make any efforts to involve an environmental surveyor to assess the environmental impact of expanding the plant. This fact supports the claim that the plant has some toxic emissions which have been proven to be harmful to people and environment (Jacobs par. 7).
The other argument against government actions to use force to disburse the protests says that authorities were not trustworthy, and they could still go ahead with the planned expansions, even after having given a statement to stop the extension. This argument was based on the previous occasions in which the government had not stood by its words. As reported, one protester said that the government was concerned more with making money than support or care about the citizens (China Daily’s editorial as qtd. in China morning round-up). This argument was meant to justify the continuation of the protests to make the government sensitive to their needs and requirements.
The other argument for the protests against the action by the government is that the government could not listen to the opinion of its citizens, so the protests were the only available action to which the government could listen. This claim is meant to justify the protests and condemn the use of force by the police. This suggests that this was the only action available as the government could not let them continue and had to use their last resort strategy.
The arguments presented by the protesters are not correct and seem meaningless. The argument that the government did not involve the residents in planning for the extension is not only misinformed, but also deficient. It is meant to describe the government as autocratic that is not the case. The supporters of this claim argue that the government did not involve the services of an environmental surveyor to establish the environmental impact for the extension. This argument is incorrect, and I think it is most likely to be based on hearsay and rumors. In the various reports presented on the issue, none presents quantifiable evidence that the Chinese government did not actually engage the services of an environmental analyst.
Secondly, one of the main reasons why the company had to be relocated to China was because of the cheap and locally available labor. This simply means that Ningbo and the residents of the town may benefit from the plant’s extension. First, it would provide employment opportunities as well as some other economical advantages. These include infrastructural development and opening up the province to foreign investors.
The argument that the protests were the only action the government could resort to is misinformed and deficient. First, if it is true that it is the only action that would catch the attention of the government, then the protesters should have stopped the protests when the strategy worked, and the government heeded to their demand. The continuation of the protests even after the extension plans had been shelved was unjustifiable, and by having done so, the protestors only proved to be salvages. The best strategy to stop a revolt is only by employing salvage-oriented strategies; hence the government was justified in using force to stop the protests.
There are several justifications for government actions to suppress the Ningbo protest,. The first one is the illegal baseless continuation of the protests even after the government shelved the extension plans. Secondly, because of campaign season, it was just not the right time for reckless protests. Next, the government could not just sit and watch the protests threatening the already hailing economy of the province, and lastly, the continued revolt would negatively present the country to its western competitors.
The arguments against the government actions are incorrect. The first argument that the government could only listen to the public through a protest is deficient. It does not still justify the continued protests even after the government put the extensions on hold. It is concluded that according to the points discussed in this essay, the actions of the Chinese government in response to the Ningbo protests were justified.
“China morning round-up: Ningbo factory protest,” BBC news. 2012. Web.
“Chinese protest over chemical factory: Riot police clash with residents protesting over plans to expand chemical factory in Zheijiang province”, Associated Press. 2012. Web.
Jacobs, Andrew. “Protests Over Chemical Plant Force Chinese Officials to Back Down.” The New York Times. 2012. Web.
Waldmeir, Patti, Leslie Hook and Jamil Anderlini. “Ningbo protest, response both typical of China’s environmental debate.” Financial Times. 2012. The Washington Post. Web.