Hands Off Haimen!

by Ron Sakolsky

What do protesters in Haimen, China, and in Fanny Bay which is located on Vancouver Island in BC, have in common? Plenty! What links these two Pacific Rim towns is not some insipid Chamber of Commerce-initiated Sister Cities designation, but their common struggles against King Coal. On one shore, are Chinese industrial consumers, and, on the other, Canadian suppliers of the toxic fruits of the mining industry.

            In the case of Fanny Bay, there is overwhelming opposition to Compliance Energy Corporation’s proposed Raven Coal Mine which seeks an Asian market for its product, and in Haimen, there is mounting unrest and resistance as thousands have taken to the streets protesting what some news commentators refer to as a proposed expansion of an existing coal-fired power plant or what others view as another plant to be opened adjacent to the existing one. While the Chinese authorities have offered to “temporarily suspend” the power plant expansion/building project, Haimen activists have not been so easily appeased and insist that it be “cancelled” entirely. Because of this impasse, the situation remains tense and volatile. Haimen fears further pollution of the water which has already harmed its fishing-based economy, and points to an increasingly blackened sky with still higher levels of cancerous air pollution to come if the announced project proceeds. As one protester has poignantly expressed the situation of those in the uprising, “ We are fighting for our right to breathe.”

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