China’s Renegade Provinces

Beijing blocked two reports recently — one of its own, another by the World Bank — detailing the cost of rampant environmental degredation gripping the nation. The LA Times analysis of the development, “China cancels environmental report: An assessment of ‘green GDP’ would have calculated the cost of pollution to its rapidly growing economy”, insightfully captures the context.

While decisions like these issue from Beijing, one must look to the provinces for understanding. Chinese central government has a strong set of environmental policies but they are no match for provincial and municipal officials — the firemen feeding China’s economic train without brakes, running roughshod over well-meaning officials from the capitol.

Even illegally constructed coal-fired power plants shuttered under direct order of top leaders of the Communist Party of China officials spring back to life within days when the spotlight has faded.

Beijing can help China tackle new economic opportunities through its financial largesse, but it appears powerless to reign in that which it has unleashed.

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2 thoughts on “China’s Renegade Provinces

  1. The environmental degradation is one of many effects of our greed and subsequent need to see everyone fit into the mold of the western industrial economic model. I don’t think anyone in the history of the world has figured out how to effectively govern huge masses of people (humanely) — we can only construct comforting illusions of control.

    We need a radical re-think of how we value “things”, in order to drive the behaviours in the right way. As long as it is more profitable to produce and consume without a thought to the environment, than it is to do so with some sort of total-system accounting method, then why should things change?

    “We” asked the Chinese to do things our way, and by golly, they are.

  2. Too true, Jerry D. It’s hard to be “here” and look “there” without being self-righteous, if not outright complicit. Although just shining light on reality is a big step I think. Thanks, Peter!

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