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.