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China pollution

China’s fake pollution reports: did economic concerns play a part?

  • Could local governments’ fake compliance reports be understood as an effect of the central government’s concerns over economic growth?
PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 12:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 12:49pm

I write in response to the October 22 report, “Chinese regions accused of faking efforts to curb environmental problems”.

China has demonstrated a strong ambition to tackle its severe environmental problems since President Xi Jinping first came to power in 2012/13. But there are obviously gaps in the implementation of environmental laws and regulations. That the provinces of Yunnan and Henan, and the region of Guangxi, have been accused of faking efforts to handle environmental issues is a good example of such implementation gaps. Even parts of Guangdong province next to Hong Kong were pulled up for failing to take responsibility for violations.

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While this article clearly stated the problems, I am curious to see what led to the local governments’ “perfunctory”, even “fake”, rectifications. Recently, China’s environment minister said that measures to curb pollution must consider the needs of business. Thus, could the local governments’ fake compliance reports be understood as an effect of the central government’s concerns over economic growth?

In addition, a new law restricting foreign NGOs’ activities in China came into effect in January 2017, which accordingly has weakened China’s civil society. Could the local governments’ failure to enforce environmental rules be a consequence of the new NGO law?

Yichen Hao, graduate student of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, American University, Washington