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Wind plant the mistaken target for violent protestors
1 January 2006
The 16.5 MW Shanwei wind farm in southern China's Guangdong province hit international headlines last month for all the wrong reasons. Located near the village of Shigongliao, the 25 Vestas 660 kW turbines were the scene of violent clashes between local authorities and rural farmers from the village of Dongzhoukeng, 20 kilometres away, protesting against farmland requisition for power plant construction and other projects. The wind plant "became a wrong target for villagers to vent their revenge," says Xiao Wenfeng, a local reporter for Xinhua News Agency. The protest was actually against a nearby coal fired power station, say villagers and local authorities alike. The clash saw police open fire on protestors for the first time since the Tianamen Square tragedy in 1989 and left at least four people dead and several injured. Dongzhoukeng villagers have been protesting against the construction of the coal plant, which is unrelated to the wind facility, since June, campaigning for more compensation from government. The wind farm, which was developed by Guangdong Jihua Wind Energy Company, a subsidiary of Beijing's Guohua Energy Investment Company, has been operational since 2003 and is completely unconnected to the land requisition issue -- unlike the coal plant, it is not built on farmland. According to witnesses and a Shanwei City Government investigation report, however, some protestors decided to target the wind plant in order to magnify the effect of their protests, on "the pretext that it destroyed the village's Fengshui, or geomantic fortune." A Guohua spokesman says the wind plant suffered only "limited damages" from the assault, but was stopped for seven hours. The deputy police chief of Shanwei has been arrested for mishandling the incident.
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