China’s environmental hemorrhaging: partly our fault, all our problem

Here’s an update on the environmental situation in China. From The Choking of China – and the World: “the Chinese government has less control than foreign observers assume. … the state lacks the authority to impose pollution regulations and wildlife conservation laws, while at the bottom citizens lack the … tools … to defend their land, air and water. Inbetween there stand corporations and corrupted local governments bent exclusively on profit and growth, whatever the cost. So when it comes to protecting the environment, the authority of the authoritarian state looks alarmingly shaky. Yet at the same time, China’s leaders are – like ours – refusing to pursue the big projects that could haul us out of these dilemmas.”

And from Lessons from the Tiger: “Most of the environmental accidents of 2010 involved state-owned energy and mining firms. It is clear that the management styles of these companies are out of date, their systems lack early warning signals and they have no concern for the public interest. In this sense, pollution in China is not merely a natural consequence of economic growth, but rather the result of a series of human errors.

“The system of government supervision is also full of holes. … An overly close relationship between government and business has led both the executive and the judiciary to neglect their responsibilities when responding to such events. … Moreover, there has been no effort to deal with the root causes of the pollution.”

One thought on “China’s environmental hemorrhaging: partly our fault, all our problem”

  1. Many foreigners have the view when they come to China that the Chinese Government is all-powerful and centralised. This is far from the truth as Beijing ability to excercise power is diffused by almost all the provinicial governments as well as by state owned enterprises and other forces including locally-based powerful landords and property developers. Most of what the government says it will do in regard to the environment can be taken with a pinch of salt. No doubt some face-saving environment projects will be started and maybe, even completed, in and around Beijing and Shanghai but nothing substancial. The Australian economy is relying on it and expects to sell more coal and iron ore to China for the next few years than ever before. That’s why the Aussie Dollar is worth more than the American Dollar and rising faster than the Yuan.

Leave a Reply!