The author investigates persistent problems in Shifang, Sichuan, over two years after a proposed molybdenum and copper project led to protests. He calls for a more nuanced view of protests based on regional inequalities and question the “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) label applied to the protests.
He argues that since Shifang is not a highly developed city of coastal areas of China and is facing severe unemployment and difficulty to develop, stopping the project might not have been an actual victory for the town. He notes that local villagers did not take actively part in the protests at the time and that most protesters came from city areas 18 or more kilometres away.
He concludes that the only way to avoid this kind of situation is to smoothly, quickly and creatively complete the process of industrialisation. In order to achieve this goal, the government must share more information in a transparent way, adhere to policy requirements, support healthy economic development and offer effective management. Better government function would help eliminate the crisis of public trust and avoid protests. Such changes could help China to move away from the “Shifang problem”