19 October 2018
Protesters demonstrate in Xi'an against government inaction on air pollution.
Protesters demonstrate in Xi'an against government inaction on air pollution.

Two arrested in protests against air pollution in Xi’an

Two people were arrested in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province, after protests against the local government’s failure to tackle the increasingly severe problem of air pollution, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday, citing

About 10 protesters assembled near the entrance to the provincial government office building and Xi’an Kaiyuan shopping mall Sunday.

They wore masks and held placards saying “Smog causes cancer, everybody suffers” and “Government, take responsibility to control smog” to express their anger about the government’s poor performance in controlling pollution, the report said.

One man held a blue umbrella and wore a T-shirt with “Citizen” printed on it during the demonstration.

Many local residents gathered to watch the protest.

Pictures were circulated online but were removed from the internet Monday, together with tweets about the protest.

The two people arrested — Zhang Hui, taken into custody for alleged libel, and the demonstration’s initiator, Feng Honglian, known online as Wu Mian — were released Monday.

Feng was ordered to remain silent on public affairs, the report cited a mainland activist nicknamed Butcher as saying.

The protest came after former state television journalist Chai Jing made an online documentary, Under the Dome, about the health risk posed by pollution in China and how the government has failed to tackle the problem.

The documentary received more than 100 million views on social media before authorities halted media coverage of it.

Butcher called for people to have their voices heard about the issue.

Protests should encourage people to express their opinions, which can’t be completely controlled even if the authorities remove blogs and pictures, he said.

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