A coastal city in eastern China has called off preliminary studies for a petrochemical plant after residents protested over the feared environmental impact.

The decision by the government of Longkou in Shandong province appears to mark the latest victory in a growing wave of popular opposition to garbage incinerators and industrial plants that could imperil health and quality of life.

A statement on the government's website said it had been carrying out an environmental impact study on the project planned for coastal man-made islands but that such work would now cease.

No details of the protests were given, but police warned on Wednesday that they would act to stop unlawful acts, public assemblies, parades and demonstrations.

At least two Chinese cities scrapped plans for garbage incinerators last month following protests.