Following persistent public protest, a controversial chemical project planned for the coastal tourist city Xiamen, Fujian Province, is likely to be relocated, Mayor Liu Cigui said on Friday.
"We have proposed to relevant central government departments to relocate the paraxylene (PX) plant," said Liu, also a National People's Congress (NPC) deputy, on the sidelines of the ongoing session.
"Faced with the choice of becoming a chemical industry base or a coastal scenic city, we think we should stick to the latter," Liu told reporters after a panel discussion of the legislature.
"Under the trademark as a modern tourist city, we have decided after careful studies and assessments that Xiamen should focus on finance, logistics, research and development, tourism, high-end manufacturing and services businesses, and become a regional cultural and educational center."
Xiamen residents had been lashing out at the proposed chemical plant, arguing it would be detrimental to the environment and people's health. In addition, the city along the Taiwan Straits would also lose its longstanding reputation as one of the most livable cities in China.
After several rounds of public hearings and debates, the construction was put on hold in June. Experts concluded the southern area of Haicang District, the original location of the planned PX plant, was too small and inadequate for the diffusion of atmospheric pollution.
Liu added the PX plant "is still a good project" and in line with the industrial development scheme of the national government. "It should be moved to somewhere else, because Xiamen is short of land for the project construction."
Lu Zhangong, Fujian Province Party chief and NPC deputy, commended the Xiamen government on Friday for following public opinion. "The public are also right to express their concerns," he said.
Xiamen is the second biggest city in Fujian.
Zhangzhou, another city in the province, has expressed a willingness to accept the PX plant. "Zhangzhou City is capable of constructing the plant," said Mayor Li Jianguo.
However, it is up to the investor to decide where to go.
The 10.8 billion yuan (about 1.4 billion U.S. dollars) project by Tenglong Aromatic PX (Xiamen) Co. Ltd. is expected to produce 800,000 tons of paraxylene and generate revenues of 80 billion yuan annually.
(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2008)