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Thousands protest China refinery plan

KUNMING, China — More than 2,000 people in southern China unfurled banners and shouted, ‘‘Protest! Protest!’’ on Thursday to oppose plans for a petroleum refinery, generating a large rally that local authorities allowed to go forward in order to let the public vent frustration.

The gathering in downtown Kunming — the second one in the city this month — was largely peaceful, though there were minor scuffles with police. Witnesses said at least two people were briefly detained, though it was noteworthy that authorities made no effort to shut down the rally.

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A city vice mayor, He Bo, tried to meet with demonstrators, but his attempts to explain the project to the crowd were interrupted by protesters.

Kunming officials said this week that the refinery planned by powerful state company PetroChina Co. will meet environmental standards and is crucial for the local economy, but residents are worried about the air and water pollution that will result.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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