China’s Green Revolution – Foreign Policy
In compelling fashion, the authors introduce us to the activists, journalists and lawyers who are fighting for cleaner air and water, and to the institutional obstacles that remain in their path. As someone who divides his time pretty evenly writing about China now and China back then this seemed like a place to throw all the interesting bits that fall through the cracks somehow and never get used anywhere else.
It's basically the stuff that doesn't get used in my writing about modern China or in the books I do about old China — i. Environmental reporting grew to become an important and dynamic part of the media landscape. Coverage of Green issues in Chinese newspapers grew steadily through the s and accelerated through the following decade.
Around , coverage of climate change exploded after the publication of the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a major global report that underscored the scientific consensus on global warming. In the past few years, many Chinese newspapers have launched environment sections.
Is China really going green?
Most popular websites, portals and online messaging services now have Green channels. Many of the more independent publications in China — including Caijing, New Century Weekly, Economic Observer and Southern Weekend — have become known for their hard-hitting reports on environmental issues. Since these stories are seen as less politically sensitive than, for example, stories directly concerned with rights and governance, articles about sustainability-related topics have increasingly been used as vehicles for addressing social issues, from institutional corruption to the lack of transparency or public participation in policymaking.
Liu Jianqiang, one of China's best-known environmental journalists and a contributor to this volume see Chapter 5 , said about this phenomenon in a interview: 'The environment in China is not politics; politics is very sensitive. Journalists do find it easier to report about the environment. It's not you, me or the common people.
It's the huge interest groups out there. From local governments to companies and corporations, there are huge stakes in maximizing profit.
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Qian Gang, former managing editor at the liberal Guangzhou-based newspaper Southern Weekend and an academic at Hong Kong University, has described the contemporary Chinese media as characterised by three 'C's: control, change and chaos. His colleague David Bandurski suggests an alternative variation for the last characteristic: confusion.
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However you choose to render it, any survey of environmental reporting in China is likely to turn up all of the Cs. First is control.
To see evidence of that paradigm, one can look to the continuance of periodic media blackouts around environmental incidents. For example, consider in late , when chinadialogue tried to conduct an investigation in the city of Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in southern China's Pearl River Delta — which is reported to have high rates of occupational and pollution-related diseases.
The researchers were continually rebuffed. Time and again, requests for interviews were refused; the environmental protection bureau, the local hospital, oncologists and environmental scientists all remained tight-lipped; even the proceedings of public academic conferences on environmental medicine were said to be confidential. One soil expert who agreed to an interview had to consult government officials first, who told him not to make any data available to the researchers.
Or consider the nine days in July , when the Zijin Mining Company managed to suppress media reports about a massive leak from one of its copper mines into the Ting River in Fujian province. The leak caused the death of more than 1, tonnes of fish. A month after the disaster 1 September , villagers told the Southern Metropolis Daily that they used to catch turtles, grouper, beard fish and eels in the river.
Now it was mostly dead, and eating what you caught was said to be 'as dangerous as taking poison'. On 21 June , users of the microblogging service Sina Weibo read this short post: 'Two wells at a Bohai oil field have been leaking for two days.
I hope the leaks are controlled and pollution prevented. It turned out to have been true. In the end, the size of the oil sheen officially reached about 2, barrels, polluting around 4, square kilometres of sea. However, the State Oceanic Administration did not confirm the leak until an entire month later. Later that same summer, nearby in the north-eastern coastal city of Dalian, residents took to the streets to oppose a planned paraxylene PX factory see Chapter 4.
Microblog posts containing slogans and pictures of the protests were quickly scrubbed from the Internet. Censors filtered the word 'stroll' sanbu , which was employed by activists to describe the demonstrations. Asked what the greatest obstacle is to reporting climate change in China, one journalist told me: 'Information is not transparent enough. As someone who divides his time pretty evenly writing about China now and China back then this seemed like a place to throw all the interesting bits that fall through the cracks somehow and never get used anywhere else.
It's basically the stuff that doesn't get used in my writing about modern China or in the books I do about old China — i.
China Rhyming A gallimaufry of random China history and research interests.
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