Shifang reshuffles leadership after protests

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Zuo Zheng (left), is appointed as the first secretary of Shifang City. Li Chengjin, party chief, was assigned to act as an assistant to the newly-appointed first secretary.

Shifang City announced a readerhip reshuffle after a string of violent mass protests over a controversial plant construction, according to a statement released late Thursday on the city government's microblog.

The former party chief of Shifang City Committee of the CPC, Li Chengjin, has been assigned to act as an assistant to the city's newly-appointed first secretary Zuo Zheng, said the statement.

The move came after violent mass protests took place over a controversial plant construction and the city officials have promised that the project will be abandoned in response to public concern..

Zuo Zheng, a Standing Committee member of Deyang City Committee of the CPC and deputy mayor of Deyang, was appointed as first secretary of Shifang's Party committee, said the statement.

Shifang falls under the jurisdiction of Deyang and the leadership change was approved by the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the CPC.

The US$1.6 billion project, which has been approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, was expected to have a capacity of processing 40,000 tons of molybdenum and 400,000 tons of copper each year.

Traffic bans in the city have been lifted following a three-day protest.

Protests took place from June 30 to July 2 after a ground-breaking ceremony was held on June 29. Local residents took to the streets, expressing strong opposition to the city government's plan to allow the construction of a molybdenum-copper alloy factory for fear of potential environmental damage.

In response to the protests, Li Chengjin, the former party chief announced Tuesday that the factory will no longer be built in the city. According to the official Weibo of the city government, all but 15 of the injured had been discharged from hospital by Wednesday.

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