Sunday, April 13, 2008

Green China

Green activists in China tackle sustainable forests, pollution, poverty, and energy.
Some hope that this activism will blossom into democracy, but most activists work with officials promoting "public participation" that fits within the Communist Party.

“Official statistics say there are now over 2,000 ‘green’ NGOs. One unofficial study says there are up to two million informal groups of students, farmers or other activists.”
Sometimes intelligence agents infiltrate these and “it's still not unusual to see activists arrested”

Zhang Jingjing, “a Chinese Erin Brockovich”, helped residents sue for compensation from chromium poisoning.

Many Chinese activists point out that much of the pollution comes from factories that make products for the West. The “green” movement faces the same clash between the environment and the economy we see in the West, with “300 million still living on less than $1 a day”.
But Lo Sze Ping, the young director of Greenpeace's Beijing branch, thinks this very dilemma will force China's ecologists to come up with creative technological solutions.
"Imagine if China could produce solar panels just like China is producing DVD players now," he says.
"It would genuinely kick-start an energy revolution, not just in China but for the world."

It is interesting to examine how the West outsources pollution by outsourcing manufacturing. The West likes to point out China’s pollution problem while conveniently ignoring how much it imports from China.
A key policy question I have is “How do we balance free trade and cheap manufacturing with human rights and the environment”.

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