Beijing’s airpollution is sometimes so severe that people go outside wearing masks and they instantlyfeel their throats sore.
Recently, most part of China seem to believe that Chinahas become wealthy and powerful, but in my perspective, in reality, China is acountry with both weakness and strength, and one of the most concrete weakpoint is the environment. It is not an overstatement to say that China is weakcountry in regard to an environmental problem. The country that is environmentallyweak may mean that China’s ecological environment has become vulnerable and theenvironmental concerns are devastating China.Asthe result of environmental deterioration in China become more devastating thanever, the government is cracking down the country. As a solution for its war onpollution, China revised the country’s Environmental Protection Law (EPL) in2016.
The amendments make higher environmental protection rules, harder disadvantagesfor offenders and give more authorities to environmental firms. Companies whobreak environmental rules may have their utilities cut, equipment demolishedand also shut down of the facilities.Eventhough China’s environmental regulations are comparatively strong than other countries,its implementation and conduction are still poor. So, what is the reason forChina to come up with a definitive solution to this widespread environmentalproblem, so hard? Firstly,Corruption takes a part.
Local governments and environmental bureaus who arenoncompliant has been one of the main hindrances to solve the environmentalissues in China. Also, companies are known to give bribes to Chinese officialsin exchange for overlooking offences. In 2015, former vice minister of Ministryof Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun has been kicked out of the CommunistParty for selling fake quality controllers and for his participation in the tradeof replica monitoring tools.
For another example, the government has organizeda deep-rooted alliance with gigantic state-owned companies such as CNPC, such thatit is very difficult for regulations to put strict supervision on them. While anti-corruptionorganization’s struggles might help to block such illegal behaviors, thesituation is probably to remain.Secondly,another part of the problem is that most of the operations of environmentalprotection is locally done, with the state government given limited power. Althoughthe environment ministry could give some directions to local departments ofenvironmental protection, the real power they have is scarce.
This is a troublebecause local departments are usually more worried with economic growth thanthe environmental issues. And they believe polluting firms could be motors oflocal economic activity. As local governments manage the budget and recruitmentof the departments, there is a certain advantage to not obey environmentalviolation rules for the sake of the country. To give a specific example, althoughmany businesses across China’s manufacturing sector are responsible for thecountry’s environmental problem, the aluminum industry has been a predominant severepolluter. According to the reports, 62 aluminum companies which are responsiblefor more than 80% of Chinese aluminum, have broken the air pollution rules.This was possibly thanks to local government’s immoral kindness.
Thirdly,local governments are lack of funds and employees to reinforce environmentalregulations effectively. For instance, local government in Jiangsu province usuallyhave only one supervisor to observe harmful waste disposal. From time to time, justone person will be in charge of hundreds of plants. In 2015, it was reportedthat the environmental protection agency in Hebei province had only 50 peopleto monitor exhaust emissions, compared to 700 in Beijing.
Without localgovernments allocating enough funds for enforcing regulations and to monitorthe crime, tougher amendments will hardly have their effects.Lastly,the problem also lies on individuals. There is a tendency to suppose that peoplein China are eager to solve environmental pollution and, fortunately, 76percent of Chinese people think they are responsible for the environmentalproblem.
However, the problem is that they just have interests about it andhave no action. Public good is often foregone in what Garrett Hardin has named”Tragedy of the Commons.” That is to say, individuals performing rationally intheir own benefits, consequently and collectively producing pollution. China has engaged essential stepsto move in the right track of environmental protection, as the current EPLamendments illustrate.
The voice of the public is rising, and the government isstarting to answer. But, as long as structural system and insubordinate localgovernments are not brought into control and normal citizens who haveresponsibility for their environmental issue does not take action, China’s fatalpollution problem will hardly to solve.Theseveral power holders of China’s environment, such as immoral environmental organizations,insubordinate governments and unethical companies, should seize the chance toprotect environment given by the amendments and regulations. The environment ofthe country should be preserved by the people and for the people.