China Bows to Public Pressure Over Industrial Pollution


Several large protests in China have prompted the central government to act on the issue of industrial pollution. A top official said on November 12 that the government will require that all future industrial projects include assessments of their risk to social stability.

The government will also increase transparency and public involvement in decisions regarding large projects that have a potential environmental impact, Minister for Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian told reporters on the sidelines of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Zhou added: "I think it is inevitable that when a society is developed to a certain level, certain phenomena will naturally arise, this is regular. For China we are now in a sensitive period especially in terms of environmental issues. At the same time we are beginning to see a phenomenon called 'not in my backyard.’”

Chinese media reports weekly, sometimes daily, frustration leading to protests and demonstrations over industrial air and water pollution. The highest-profile case came when Chinese oil giant Sinopec was accused of environmental degradation. The drama unfolded before a national audience on China Central Television (CCTV) in late September.

Meanwhile, local media reported that Fujian province in East China is following the national trend to clean up. Officials there will pay more attention to protection of the environment during its economic development, according to the province's delegate to the Communist Party Congress.

Sun Chunlan, party chief of the provincial committee, said authorities are going to make more efforts toward ecological conservation.

The effort includes cutting carbon emissions, planting more trees and preventing soil erosion, she said at the sidelines of the congress on November 9.