HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY: 3 U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murder of 3 Iraqis

Kareem Raheem | photographer

Officials of American-led forces said soldiers killed 26 militants in a rai in Sadr City Saturday, but some residents said civilians were killed.


BAGHDAD, June 30 — Two American soldiers have been charged with premeditated murder and planting weapons on dead Iraqis, the United States military said Saturday.

The soldiers, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley and Specialist Jorge G. Sandoval Jr., were detained after fellow soldiers reported they had been involved in the deaths of three Iraqis near Iskandariya, a stronghold of the Sunni Arab insurgency south of Baghdad, in separate events between April and June this year.

Also on Saturday, the United States military mounted an early morning raid into the Shiite district of Sadr City in Baghdad. Officials with the American-led forces said soldiers had killed 26 militants, but some residents and Mahdi Army militia commanders accused them of killing civilians.

In the murder case, American military officials said Sergeant Hensley, 27, from Candler, N.C., faces three charges of premeditated murder, obstruction of justice and wrongfully placing weapons with the remains of deceased Iraqis. Specialist Sandoval, 20, faces one charge of premeditated murder and one of wrongfully placing a weapon on one of the three Iraqis killed.

Both were serving with the First Battalion, 501st Infantry, of the 25th Infantry Division, which has its headquarters at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Specialist Sandoval was picked up while at home on a two-week leave in Laredo, Tex., the military said. Charges were filed Thursday, and both men are in confinement in Kuwait.

The military said in a statement that an investigation was under way.

The area, part of the so-called Sunni Triangle, is no stranger to controversy.

Two American soldiers have admitted to raping a 14-year-old and killing her and her family in Mahmudiya, a town near Iskandariya, in March 2006, and others also face trial in the killings. Tension has been high since May 12, when an insurgent ambush on a patrol near Mahmudiya killed four American soldiers and one Iraqi, and led to the abduction of three Americans. One soldier’s body was later found but the other two soldiers are still missing.

In Baghdad, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, an American military spokesman, said the raid in Sadr City on Saturday was against a militant cell that was smuggling weapons, explosively formed penetrators, a particularly lethal type of bomb, and money from Iran to aid Iraqi militias.

He said soldiers killed about 26 fighters and detained 17 suspects, but came under attack from small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs as they withdrew from the area. The Americans returned fire against militants shooting from behind buildings and cars.

“Everyone who got shot was shooting at U.S. troops at the time,” Colonel Garver said. “It was an intense firefight.”

But Iraqi officials said that the death toll was much lower, around eight, and some said that civilians were killed, including a man, his wife and their daughter, who had left their home to check on the disturbance.

Sadr City residents said the American operation was directed at more than one part of the district. Abu Jamal, 50, said he heard troops outside his house in the Sabee Qusoor area early in the morning.

“We were sitting on the roof, all of a sudden the helicopters started throwing flares,” he said. “We were afraid, so we left and went downstairs. The whole family went into one room because we started hearing the sound of firing from the helicopters. We couldn’t hear any firing from machine guns, only the aircraft firing. It was a horrible night.”

In Najaf, a spokesman for the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, the nominal leader of the Mahdi Army, condemned the raid Saturday and insisted that the militia was not involved in the fight.

“We reject these repeated assaults against civilians. The allegation that Mahdi Army members were the only ones targeted is baseless and wrong,” said the spokesman, Sheik Salah al-Obaidi. “The bombing hurt only innocent civilians.”

The battle prompted an immediate statement from the office of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, saying that he would demand clarification from the military.

On the political front, Mr. Maliki appealed for Iraq’s largest Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Consensus Front, to end its boycott of his Shiite-dominated government. The boycott began last week as a protest of an arrest warrant issued against one of its members, Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi, in a murder investigation.

Mr. Maliki said boycotts would only “complicate” matters, and urged them to embrace dialogue as “the only way to solve all the problems now and in the future.”

In Diyala Province, a suicide bomber killed three police recruits and wounded 34 lined up outside a police station in Muqdadiya.

Meanwhile, the American military said it killed Abu Abdel Rahman al-Masri, a senior figure in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, in a raid east of Falluja on Friday. Colonel Garver said that Mr. Masri, an Egyptian, had worked closely with Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the military leader of the group, and that his body had been identified by known associates.

American commanders also said that on Friday night a tip from an Iraqi led them to a grave containing dozens of bodies near Ferris, 20 miles south of Falluja. The military said in a statement: “Coalition forces uncovered 35 to 40 bodies at the site. The remains were bound and had gunshot wounds. This incident is currently under investigation.” It is unclear when or how the victims were killed.

Separately, an American command sergeant major, the most senior enlisted member serving in a major command, was sentenced to four months in detention after being convicted of possessing alcohol and pornography, engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a female soldier in his unit, and maltreating a soldier.

The command sergeant major, Edward Ramsdell, of the 411th Engineer Brigade, was working in Diyala Province at the time, and he was given a court-martial in October. Prosecutors said he had possessed a “large quantity” of alcohol and pornography in his quarters, tried to conceal the evidence when discovered and then tried to escape from investigating officers.

Wisam A. Habeeb contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Baghdad, Najaf and Diyala.

3rd American Soldier Charged in Murder of an Iraqi Civilian


BAGHDAD, July 2 — A third American soldier has been charged with murdering an Iraqi civilian and planting a weapon in a shooting that the soldiers tried to cover up, the United States military said Monday.

The soldier, Sgt. Evan Vela, of Phoenix, Idaho, served in the headquarters unit of the First Battalion, 501st Infantry, of the 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. That is the same unit as Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley and Specialist Jorge G. Sandoval Jr., who were charged last week with killing three Iraqis and placing weapons near their bodies to make it seem as though they were combatants.

Sergeant Vela is charged with one count of premeditated murder, and also of placing a weapon with the body, obstruction of justice and making a false statement, according to a statement by the military.

The killings happened near Iskandariya, south of Baghdad, between April and June, the military said in a statement. All three soldiers have been detained and are awaiting trial.

The military said two soldiers and one marine were killed in western Anbar Province on Sunday, in addition to two soldiers whose deaths were reported earlier. Those follow 101 American military deaths in June, according to figures from the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, making the 331 fatalities from April through June the deadliest quarter yet for United States forces.

In Diyala Province, the scene of heavy recent fighting between Sunni militants and American forces, an Iraqi police official in Muqdadiya said the civilian death toll from terrorist attacks in the Sherween area on Sunday night had reached 16, with 30 wounded. However, Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Rubaie, the Iraqi commander of operations in Diyala, said coalition and Iraqi forces had made significant advances during the recent large-scale operation to clear Al Qaeda from Baquba.

“The terrorists even targeted schools, as they wanted to halt the progress of science in these areas,” he said Monday. “Life has gradually started to go back to normality in these areas, and residents were happy with the military operations.”

In Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta, an Iraqi military spokesman, said the security crackdown there had led to a reduction in attacks on civilians but an increase in attacks on American-led forces. However, hours later a car bomb in Binouk, a district in northern Baghdad, killed four people and wounded 25, an Interior Ministry official said last night.

Farther south, American F-16s bombed buildings in Diwaniya after insurgents launched 75 rockets and mortar shells at a coalition base. Iraqi officials said the jets killed 10 civilians, including women and children, wounded 30 others and destroyed several houses.

A statement from the United States military said the jets “targeted and bombed the insurgent launch sites.” Accusing insurgents of using civilians as human shields, it said coalition forces were “reviewing the incident to ensure that appropriate and proportionate force was used.”

The strike led to a protest march by residents, some of whom opened fire on a government building, leading to an exchange in which a 17-year-old demonstrator and two security guards were killed.

Iraqi employees of the New York Times contributed reporting from Diyala Province and Diwaniya





爱德华·Cody 华盛顿邮报外国服务
星期四, 2007 年6月28 日; A01

厦门, 中国-- 成百数以万计, 迫切文本消息跳飞了在cellphones 在厦门, 会损坏城市的美好的海边环境和会弄脏它的甜味热带微风

的警告附近浩劫由促进一家巨型化工工厂的建筑在郊区棕榈树之中, 当地政府"引起一枚原子弹总计厦门," 巨型的消息浪花被充电, 预言, 植物会导致"白血病和被扭屈的婴孩" 在2 之中百万加上这个城市的居民在中国的南部的外缘, 正义在台湾对面.

环境活动家在消息之后也许已经夸大了危险以他们小花的语言, 专家说。但他们的多情反对化工工厂引起了迫使止步不前在建筑, 等待更加进一步的环境影响研究由当局在北京, 和引起大示范1 日和6月2 日, 画全国宣传.

公开愤怒的爆炸延迟标记了民意一个罕见的事例在中国上升从街道和强迫政策的变动由共产党官僚主义者。这是技术-- 特殊cellphones 和互联网潜力的一个剧烈的例证-- 质询党维护它的独占在力量在中国的1.4 十亿个人.

的严谨审查和政治控制 "我认为这是一个巨大先例为中国," 的厦门居民说Zhong Xiaoyong, 在他的人作为blogger Lian 粤, 广泛地写在努力停止工厂建筑.

尽管努力由地方公共安全局技术员阻拦cellphone 竞选, 上千群众注意了警报在最后天5月期间。尽管警告从市政厅和穿制服和便衣的警察一个大出席者, 他们前进在热, 闷热的天气通过厦门街道抗议化工工厂被修造在Haicang, 一个工业和住宅海岛横跨狭窄的海峡从街市厦门.

示范是主要平安的, 除了推挤反对警察排队停止行军, 证人说。大约8,000 个到10,000 个人参与了第一天和一半那许多第二天。但事史无前例发生给示威者力量甚而他们未构想: 公民新闻工作者运载cellphones 寄发了文本消息关于行动到bloggers 在广州和其它城市, 然后张贴实时报告使整个国家看.

"第二条警察防御线被分散了," Wen Yunchao, 一个这样的证人, 被键入对一个朋友在广州。"有推挤和推。警察墙壁划分了.".

汉语定调了对blogosphere 在了不起的数字、观看的书面帐户和cellphone 相片里。站点运载现场报告记录了数以万计命中。一些站点由安全显示器击倒了。但他们的报告那时弹起了对其它站点在国家周围, 保留一步在检查员之前。许多那些被定调是编辑害怕报道抗议由于警告从厦门党宣传部.

的传统报纸和杂志记者 "中国政府控制传统新闻, 因此新闻被散布在互联网和cellphones," Wen, 还blogger, 以后认为。"这表示, 中国人民能派出他们自己的新闻, 并且当局没有方式整个地停止它。这非常有冲击。我认为实际上每名媒介工作者在中国看它和保持与它.".

Wen 认为他和他的朋友后来认为, 如果1989 年抗议者用cellphones 和计算机被武装了, 那里会是一个另外结果对臭名远扬的天安门广场抗议, 以干预由人民解放军和上百杀害结束, 或许数以万计, 在北京街道.

科学家Snubbed, Blogger 跨步在

竞选反对Tenglong 芳香PX (厦门) 有限公司Co. 工厂开始了几个月及早。赵Yufen 、一位由美国训练的化学教授在厦门大学和成员中国科学院, 组织了她和100 位其它签字者为反对300 英亩而辩论的请愿, $1.4 十亿工厂复合体.

工厂, 由Taiwanese 商人陈·于郝被修造, 将制造对二甲苯, 被使用在塑料、聚酯和其它综合性产品。对二甲苯可能导致眼睛、耳朵、鼻子和对神经系统的喉头激怒和, 以长时期的曝光, 损伤。但赵的真正的反对是事故的危险。这样偶然性不是没有先例。2005 年一家化工工厂爆炸了在中国北部, 送毒性化学制品入Songhua 河和弄脏供水在哈尔滨主要城市.

赵并且按了她的盒与地方官员和, 在北京, 以国家发展和改革委员会。但以经济发展作为党口令, 他们未被移动。政府, 包括状态环境保护管理, 已经批准项目, 她被告诉了, 那么那里是没什么更多谈论.

他Lifeng, 厦门共产党书记, 艰苦推挤得到工厂被修造。它会几乎双重城市的国民生产总值到$26 十亿, 官员这里被争论, 做成交一个潜在的里程碑他继续下去事业。而且, 陈, 台湾所有者, 为人所知作为台湾独立的对手, 因而商人耕种.

从他的一封信件援引在东方周刊, 参加以正式新华通讯社, 敦促人在厦门政府忽视反对。结果, 厦门党宣传局确定赵和其他人的保留未被谈论公开。反而, 地方报纸和电视新闻节目刊登了故事在故事在会来到厦门由于新工厂.

的经济好处之后 "他们只有正面新闻对此," 被召回的Zhong, blogger 以Lian 粤著名。"他们说这是一个了不起的项目。..但逐渐, 新闻打破了停电.".

一个原因是Zhong, 使用他的blog 提出赵的问题和传播他们在厦门公众之中。Zhong, 37, 以为生主要由做自由职业者的评论对报纸和杂志, 并且他的妻子, 律师, 有平稳的工作在城市。结果, 他比他的同事是较少依于压力从宣传部在厦门的报纸和电视台, 冒险丢失他们的薪金, 健康保险, 安置补贴和其它好处如果他们违抗定货从检查员.

"他们害怕," 他说。"关于我, 我不依靠任何工作单位, 因此我有较少忧虑。如果我工作在一个规则工作, 我不能做了它."

兴趣加宽, 北京作为通知.

如同Zhong 和其它互联网评论员传播了戒备, 记者从全国杂志开始出现在厦门对采访赵和报告关于危险。由宣传部启发, 地方报纸刊登了关于怎样的故事局外人实践"黄色新闻业" 和危害厦门的名誉。数全国记者说他们的编辑由厦门的宣传部接触了和对刊登被警告了故事.

"他们认为他们能控制全国媒介同样方式他们控制媒介在厦门," 他们的当中一个召回了, 讲话出于恐惧厦门检查员能仍然不愿透露姓名危害他或他的编辑.

cellphone 竞选, 同时, 拾起动量。厦门的居民, 柔和的小山俯视一个太阳飞溅的海湾加点了与海岛带领入台湾海峡, 为他们的城市的自然秀丽长期是骄傲的; 他们是快动员反对什么他们告诉是威胁对环境.

当局在北京和福州, 福建省会, 并且开始采取通知。胡锦涛总统将到德国旅行为一次会议与八组的领导工业化国家, 中国的名誉作为污染源会是讨论题目, 并且这是没有时间为困窘的环境争执.

结果, 2005 年他和他的党委员会被召唤了到福州在5月29 日对回顾环境研究被执行当工厂被批准了。从那以后, 市政府官员被承认, 住宅邻里被允许起来在工厂站点附近。延迟同意; 他参观了建造场所5月30 日并且说没什么由看一看会危害第二.

但抗议动量那时增长太强以至于不能停止。厦门居民不再信任政府关于工厂问题, 参加者说, 并且他们恐惧新研究只会证实更加早期的授权。抗议游行依照由厦门市政府预定去, 忽略公告-- 包括一个做了当示威者是在工厂项目是在举行.

的街道-- "保护我们的儿童健康," 横幅读.

厦门当局指责了行军者违犯法律。善意的公民由闹事者, 公共安全局操作被警告。Du Mingcong, 厦门人民代表大会常务委员会的副主任, 表达的关心, 展示在这样热的天气里能"损坏参加者的精神和身体健康."

但这样的关心没有发现echo 在北京。批评粤, 副主任状态环境保护管理, 说厦门应该再考虑化工工厂。人民日报, 共产党报纸, 跑了一个头版社论谴责忽视胡总统的箴言保存环境.

的地方官员消息是被接受的大声和清楚的这里在厦门。刘·Cigui 市长, 谈话与记者在香港, 同意, 项目威力必须被搁置。他的发言人, 沈·Canhuang, 说决定顺从了对中央政府.

赵教授, 同时, 警告, 反空气污染的官僚主义者也许考虑只是否植物危及人居住在附近的住房开发。虽然她拒绝了一次正式采访, 说它会必须被宣传部, 赵批准说在电话谈话, 真正问题依然是是否工厂应该被修造在根本的厦门附近

. "这是为厦门环境安全," 她说。"厦门是特别.".

Text Messages Giving Voice to Chinese

Opponents of Chemical Factory Found Way Around Censors

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, June 28, 2007; A01

XIAMEN, China -- By the hundreds of thousands, the urgent text messages ricocheted around cellphones in Xiamen, warning of a catastrophe that would spoil the city's beautiful seaside environment and foul its sweet-smelling tropical breezes.

By promoting the construction of a giant chemical factory among the suburban palm trees, the local government was "setting off an atomic bomb in all of Xiamen," the massive message sprays charged, predicting that the plant would cause "leukemia and deformed babies" among the 2 million-plus residents of this city on China's southern rim, just opposite Taiwan.

The environmental activists behind the messages might have exaggerated the danger with their florid language, experts said. But their passionate opposition to the chemical plant generated an explosion of public anger that forced a halt in construction, pending further environmental impact studies by authorities in Beijing, and produced large demonstrations June 1 and 2, drawing national publicity.

The delay marked a rare instance of public opinion in China rising from the streets and compelling a change of policy by Communist Party bureaucrats. It was a dramatic illustration of the potential of technology -- particularly cellphones and the Internet -- to challenge the rigorous censorship and political controls through which the party maintains its monopoly on power over China's 1.4 billion people.

"I think this is a great precedent for China," said Zhong Xiaoyong, a Xiamen resident who, in his persona as the blogger Lian Yue, wrote extensively on efforts to stop construction of the factory.

Despite efforts by local Public Security Bureau technicians to block the cellphone campaign, thousands of people heeded the alarm during the last days of May. Despite warnings from city hall and a large turnout of uniformed and plainclothes police, they marched in hot, muggy weather through the streets of Xiamen to protest the chemical factory being built on Haicang, an industrial and residential island across a narrow strait from downtown Xiamen.

The demonstrations were largely peaceful, except for pushing against policemen lined up to stop the march, witnesses said. About 8,000 to 10,000 people participated the first day and half that many the second day. But something unprecedented occurred that gave the demonstrators a power even they had not envisioned: Citizen journalists carrying cellphones sent text messages about the action to bloggers in Guangzhou and other cities, who then posted real-time reports for the entire country to see.

"The second police defense line has been dispersed," Wen Yunchao, one such witness, typed to a friend in Guangzhou. "There is pushing and shoving. The police wall has broken down."

Chinese tuned in to the blogosphere in great numbers, viewing written accounts and cellphone photographs. Sites carrying the live reports recorded thousands of hits. Some sites were knocked out by security monitors. But by then their reports had bounced to other sites around the country, keeping one step ahead of the censors. Many of those tuned in were traditional newspaper and magazine reporters whose editors were afraid to cover the protests because of warnings from the Xiamen party Propaganda Department.

"The Chinese government controls the traditional press, so the news circulated on the Internet and cellphones," Wen, also a blogger, said later. "This showed that the Chinese people can send out their own news, and the authorities have no way to stop it entirely. This had so much impact. I think virtually every media worker in China was looking at it and keeping up with it."

Wen said he and his friends have since concluded that if protesters had been armed with cellphones and computers in 1989, there would have been a different outcome to the notorious Tiananmen Square protest, which ended with intervention by the People's Liberation Army and the killings of hundreds, perhaps thousands, in the streets of Beijing.

Scientist Snubbed, Blogger Steps In

The campaign against the Tenglong Aromatic PX (Xiamen) Co. Ltd. factory had started months earlier. Zhao Yufen, a U.S.-trained chemistry professor at Xiamen University and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, had organized a petition in which she and 100 other signatories argued against the 300-acre, $1.4 billion factory complex.

The factory, being built by Taiwanese businessman Chen Yu-hao, was to make paraxylene, which is used in plastics, polyester and other synthetic products. Paraxylene can cause eye, ear, nose and throat irritations and, with prolonged exposure, damage to the nervous system. But Zhao's real objection was the danger of an accident. Such an eventuality was not without precedent. A chemical factory exploded in northern China in 2005, sending toxic chemicals into the Songhua River and fouling the water supply in the major city of Harbin.

Zhao also pressed her case with local officials and, in Beijing, with the National Development and Reform Commission. But with economic development as the party watchword, they were not moved. The government, including the State Environmental Protection Administration, had already approved the project, she was told, so there was nothing more to discuss.

He Lifeng, the Xiamen Communist Party secretary, was pushing hard to get the factory built. It would almost double the city's gross domestic product to $26 billion, officials here argued, making the deal a potential milestone on He's career path. Moreover, Chen, the Taiwanese owner, was known as an opponent of Taiwanese independence, thus a businessman to be cultivated.

A letter from He cited in the Oriental Weekly magazine, affiliated with the official New China News Agency, urged people in the Xiamen government to disregard the objections. As a result, the Xiamen party Propaganda Bureau made sure the reservations of Zhao and others were not discussed in public. Instead, local newspapers and television news programs ran story after story on the economic benefits that would come to Xiamen because of the new factory.

"They only had positive news about it," recalled Zhong, the blogger known as Lian Yue. "They just said it was a great project. . . . But little by little, the news broke through the blackout."

One reason was Zhong, who used his blog to raise Zhao's questions and spread them among the Xiamen public. Zhong, 37, was making his living mainly by freelancing commentary to newspapers and magazines, and his wife, a lawyer, had steady work in the city. As a result, he was less subject to pressure from the Propaganda Department than his colleagues at Xiamen's newspapers and television stations, who risked losing their salaries, health insurance, housing subsidies and other benefits if they defied orders from the censors.

"They were afraid," he said. "As for me, I don't rely on any work unit, so I had less to worry about. If I had been working in a regular job, I couldn't have done it."

Interest Widens, Beijing Takes Notice

As Zhong and other Internet commentators spread the alert, reporters from national magazines started to show up in Xiamen to interview Zhao and report on the hazards. Inspired by the Propaganda Department, local newspapers ran stories about how the outsiders were practicing "yellow journalism" and harming Xiamen's reputation. Several of the national reporters said their editors were contacted by Xiamen's Propaganda Department and warned against running the story.

"They thought they could control the national media the same way they controlled the media in Xiamen," one of them recalled, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear the Xiamen censors could still harm him or his editors.

The cellphone campaign, meanwhile, picked up momentum. Residents of Xiamen, whose gentle hills overlook a sun-splashed bay dotted with islands leading into the Taiwan Strait, have long been proud of their city's natural beauty; they were quick to mobilize against what they were being told was a threat to the environment.

Authorities in Beijing and Fuzhou, the Fujian provincial capital, also started to take notice. President Hu Jintao was about to travel to Germany for a meeting with leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries, where China's reputation as a polluter would be a topic of discussion, and this was no time for an embarrassing environmental dispute.

As a result, He and his party committee were summoned to Fuzhou on May 29 to review environmental studies carried out when the factory was approved in 2005. Since then, city officials acknowledged, residential neighborhoods had been allowed to rise near the factory site. A delay was agreed; He visited the construction site May 30 and said nothing would be harmed by taking a second look.

But by then the protest momentum had grown too strong to stop. Xiamen residents no longer trusted the government on the factory issue, participants said, and they feared the new study would only confirm earlier authorizations. The protest marches went off as scheduled, ignoring announcements by the Xiamen city government -- including one made while the demonstrators were in the street -- that the factory project was on hold.

"Protect our children's health," the banners read.

Xiamen authorities accused the marchers of violating the law. Well-intentioned citizens were being manipulated by troublemakers, the Public Security Bureau warned. Du Mingcong, vice director of the Xiamen People's Congress standing committee, expressed concern that demonstrating in such hot weather could "damage the participants' mental and physical health."

But such concern found no echo in Beijing. Pan Yue, deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said Xiamen should think again about the chemical plant. People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, ran a front-page editorial condemning local officials who had disregarded President Hu's admonitions to preserve the environment.

The message was received loud and clear here in Xiamen. Mayor Liu Cigui, speaking to reporters in Hong Kong, agreed that the project might have to be shelved. His spokesman, Shen Canhuang, said the decision had been deferred to the central government.

Professor Zhao, meanwhile, warned that the anti-pollution bureaucrats might consider only whether the plant endangers people living in the nearby housing developments. Although she declined a formal interview, saying it would have to be approved by the Propaganda Department, Zhao said in a telephone conversation that the real problem remains whether the plant should be built near Xiamen at all.

"This is for the environmental safety of Xiamen," she said. "Xiamen is special."