Morococha: the Peruvian town the Chinese relocated [China Dialogue]

标准

Morococha: the Peruvian town the Chinese relocated
Gervase Poulden
15.04.2013
comments0
The movement of a town and its population to make way for a mining project in Peru could signal a new Chinese approach to community relations overseas

Decades of poorly regulated mining have left a dangerous legacy in the old town of Morococha. (Image by Social Capital Group)

The headlines have been stark: a Chinese mining company moves an entire Peruvian town of 5,000 people five miles down the road to make way for its new mine.

It sounds like another story about an extractive corporation riding roughshod over local lives. But the reality is more complex. The decision to move the town was actually made before the Chinese company, Chinalco, took control. And, to the surprise of many, it may provide a template for successful overseas investment.

The town of Morococha is no stranger to mining companies. Situated in the province of Yauli, the birthplace of Peruvian mining just 90 miles to the east of the capital Lima, Morococha sprung up haphazardly in response to a local mining boom that began in the 1930s.

It lies under the shadow of Toromocho, a mountain with an estimated 5.7 million tonnes of copper – and the potential to become one of the most lucrative copper mines in the world.

Decades of poorly regulated mining around Morococha have left a dangerous legacy: a toxic, uncovered mine tailings deposit in the middle of the city. “Morococha is built on a toxic-waste site,” says Cynthia Sanborn, a scholar at Peruvian university El Pacifico, and expert on Chinese mining companies in Latin America. The town also lacks a proper sewage system and residents use communal latrines.

Moving an entire town

In 2006, the exploration firm PeruCopper applied to the Peruvian government for the right to turn Toromocho into an open-pit mine. The dire state of Morococha and its proximity to Toromocho meant that the relocation of the town was the only realistic option, according to Sylvia Matos of Peruvian mining consultancy Social Capital Group, hired by Peru Copper to carry out the project’s environmental and feasibility analysis in early 2006.

Yet moving a town of this size was something that had never been attempted before, and when PeruCopper opened the bidding for the concession, only one company showed an interest: Chinalco. “No other company was prepared to spend US$50 million on a social project before even seeing a cent of return,” explains Cynthia Sanborn. “No other companies have the deep pockets of the Chinese.”

After Chinalco bought the concession, it swiftly rehired Social Capital Group to handle the community relations aspects of the move. At every step Chinalco, a state-owned company making it first foray into Peru, has been careful to build and maintain a positive reputation within the local community, say supporters. Production at the mine is expected to start towards the end of this year.

Bad legacy of Shougang

Chinalco’s approach is striking for its contrast with the other main Chinese company in the region, Shougang. In the early 1990s, Shougang was the first Chinese firm to expand into Latin America, with an iron operation in Peru. Its history there since has been marked by hostility from the local community. “Shougang has been rife with environmental tragedy and community relations mistakes,” says Kevin Gallagher, author of The Dragon in the Room: China and the Future of Latin American Industrialisation.

Locals and Peruvian environmental groups have accused Shougang of tipping chemical waste into the sea. In the 1990s, the company was fined US$14 million by the Peruvian government for failing to meet its promises to invest in local infrastructure. In 2005, during one of many protests against the company, Peruvian workers claimed that they were treated like “slaves” by Shougang, working 15-hour shifts for US$13 a day.

Shougang’s torrid experience has raised the stakes for Chinese players, says Cynthia Sanborn. “Chinese companies have had a bad press in Africa and Shougang got a really bad press. Chinalco, as a Chinese company, had a lot to prove.”

In recent years, local opposition has stalled many other potential Chinese mining projects, such as Zijn’s Rio Blanco copper project in northern Peru. The situation has been so severe that Toromocho would be the first operational Chinese mining venture in Peru since Shougang. Much of the burden of repairing the reputation of Chinese firms has fallen on Chinalco.

A template for Chinese companies?

Though it is still too early to say with certainty, observers suggest Chinalco has so far handled the task well. “The process of consultation, the care with which they [Chinalco] have been trying to consult everybody and to be transparent, I think is outstanding for Peru,” says Sanborn. She says that part of Chinalco’s success stems from learning the mistakes of companies like Shougang. “I think each Chinese company has learnt from others. They have an informal group that meets and discusses their experiences.”

One of the key lessons concerns the visibility of Chinese staff. Shougang’s strategy of employing Chinese executives and even workers prompted widespread protest. By contrast, all members of Chinalco Peru’s senior management team, apart from the recently appointed chief executive, are Peruvian. Social Capital Group, in conjunction with the Peruvian representatives of Chinalco, has handled the consultation process, much of the community relations work and the decisions on the future of the new town of Carhuacoto.

“The Chinese have very wisely left their experienced Peruvian team in charge of the process,” says Social Capital’s Matos. “The big decisions like how many houses will be built and how much money will be spent are approved by the Chinese, but we have only ever dealt with the Peruvians.”

The decision to hire managers with local experience also demonstrates a move away from reliance on high-level interaction with central government to ensure mining projects go smoothly. “Other Chinese investors have come to Peru and believed it when presidents and prime ministers have said, “Don’t worry, everything’s going to be ok,” says Sanborn. “But Peru is not a country where the state can work everything out for you.”

This is not to say the project has been trouble free, or that Chinalco lacks critics in Peru. Although more than half of the population of Morococha has already moved to the new town, a significant and vocal group has refused to relocate and has been agitating against the Chinese firm.

In a high-profile bust-up, the mayor of Morococha also abandoned a roundtable he had convened on the subject, claiming all the other representatives of the city were in the pocket of Chinalco. This included Javier Barrera, bishop of Junin and prominent opponent of mining companies with poor environmental records, who had been invited to help mediate the process. Chinalco and Social Capital Group blame the argument on the mayor and demands for more money from Chinalco.

Sanborn believes that the solution will soon be resolved. “I think something will be worked out, Chinalco will come to a compromise and cut a deal with the mayor,” she says. Morococha is a town dependent on mines for its existence, “the protest is not about the mine per se; it’s about getting the best deal out of the company.”

The protests demonstrate the difficulty for any mining company of satisfying the needs and demands of those affected by their projects. Nonetheless, Chinalco stands on the cusp of opening only the second operational, Chinese-run mine in Peruvian history. Its success could yet provide a blueprint for other Chinese companies expanding into Peru.

comment on “How China is rewriting the rules of investment in Africa by Simon Zadek”

标准

The original text
South African President Jacob Zuma’s warning to Western corporations to change their neocolonial attitudes toward Africa or risk losing out to China and other developing economies resonated powerfully last month, as South Africa hosted Brazil, Russia, India and China at the fifth BRICS summit. But Zuma’s stance reflects the rise of cross-border “macroinvestment”, a phenomenon that is more remarkable than the developing world’s declining reliance on the West.

Business investment is usually project-based, with the factory to be built or the land to be cultivated forming the investment boundary. A larger deal – for example, a concession to mine iron ore in Mongolia – would include more complex investment boundaries, establishing details like the project’s timing and the anticipated benefits to the host country.

For example, beyond building the mine itself, the deal could include investments in transport systems to market the mined product, energy generation and accommodations and other facilities for workers in the surrounding communities. In some cases, the deal might even include features aimed at boosting domestic added value by localising the mine’s procurement or creating the capacity to process the mine’s output.

The advent of macroinvestment is rendering even such extended deals obsolete. Macroinvestment involves government-to-government agreements that pre-allocate large lines of cross-border public financing. (This should not to be confused with the equity-based private investment strategy of the same name, which attempts to anticipate and profit from global trends.)

Unlike comparable financing that Western governments provide, these pre-designated lines of credit are tied to agreements concerning market or natural-resource access, and provide additional funding for the host government to invest according to its own priorities. Angola’s government, for example, arranged with China’s Exim Bank for several lines of credit totalling several billion dollars, some directly in exchange for oil, and others more broadly linked to enhancing Chinese companies’ ability to secure oil concessions.

Western commentators have largely dismissed such investment as a means for China to build vanity infrastructure, such as public administration buildings, oversized airports and underused highways. But, while such follies exist, the reality is far more interesting – and its impact far more significant.

Developing countries – and, increasingly, advanced countries as well – need massive infrastructure investment to drive their economic development. China is now enabling its developing partners to mirror its own strategy of infrastructure-led development by providing the needed investment at low cost. In these mutually beneficial macroinvestment deals, Chinese contractors deliver the needed infrastructure. Host governments receive financing not only for the agreed projects, but also to pursue other priorities that they have identified for their countries.

Shifting approach to investment governance

Critics argue that China’s macroinvestment strategy encourages rent-seeking by partner governments, providing slush funds that serve the political elite and well-connected businesses. They highlight China’s unwillingness to embrace initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, or to establish an equivalent of America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or the OECD’s Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

To be sure, such concerns are not unwarranted; China and its partners would benefit from robust anti-corruption legislation regulating Chinese companies’ international operations. But the critics ignore China’s promotion of national environmental and social oversight over outward investment, including the “green credit guidelines” that the China Banking Regulatory Commission issued last month, and the just-released Guidelines on Environmental Protection in Foreign Investment and Cooperation. Indeed, China is rewriting the rules for cross-border investment governance, just as it is reshaping public and private investment strategies for the twenty-first century.

Macroinvestment need not be exclusive to China, though competing against China’s unique combination of low-cost operations, abundant cheap finance, and powerful state-owned enterprises will not be easy. But, as major emerging economies like Brazil and India rapidly increase their outward investment, they are in a prime position to establish similarly constructive arrangements with developing countries.

Western countries, too, can meet growing demand for broader long-term investment deals. But they must adopt a new mindset, treating host countries as equals. Lecturing developing-country governments, while limiting investment to resource extraction, is no longer tenable.

Global investment markets are changing fast. And the cost of falling behind – erosion of long-term competitiveness – could not be higher.

The quoted documents:
I. Notice of the CBRC [China Banking Regulatory Commission] on Issuing the Green Credit Guidelines
CBRC local offices, policy banks, state-owned commercial banks, joint-stock commercial banks, financial assets management companies, the PSBC, provincial rural credit unions, as well as all trust firms, enterprise group finance companies and financial leasing firms directly regulated by the CBRC:
To implement the macro adjustment policies provided for in the Integrated Working Plan of the State Council for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction during the 12th Five-year Period and the Comments of the State Council on Strengthening Environmental Protection Priorities, and to follow the requirements of matching supervisory policies with industrial policies, the CBRC has formulated the Green Credit Guidelines for the purpose of encouraging banking institutions to, by focusing on green credit, actively adjust credit structure, effectively fend off environmental and social risks, better serve the real economy, and boost the transformation of economic growth mode and adjustment of economic structure. The Guidelines are hereby printed and issued for implementation.
Banking supervisory authorities should forward the Notice to local banking institutions and urge them into implementation.
Feb. 24, 2012
The China Banking Regulatory Commission

Green Credit Guidelines
Chapter 1 General Provisions

1. Article 1 For the purpose of encouraging banking institutions to develop green credit, these Guidelines are formulated pursuant to the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Banking Regulation and Supervision and the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Commercial Banks.
2. Article 2 Banking Institutions mentioned herein include policy banks, commercial banks, rural cooperative banks and rural credit cooperatives lawfully incorporated within the territory of the People’s Republic of China.
3. Article 3 Banking institutions shall promote green credit from a strategic height, increase the support to green, low-carbon and recycling economy, fend off environmental and social risks, and improve their own environmental and social performance, thus optimizing their credit structure, improving the quality of services, and facilitating the transformation of development mode. [The environmental concern serves the strategy of overseas investment. When there is a conflict between the strategy in credit activity and environmental concern, it would be interesting to observe how China deals with the dilemma.]
4. Article 4 Banking institutions shall effectively identify, measure, monitor and control environmental and social risks associated with their credit activities, establish environmental and social risk management system, and improve relevant credit policies and process management.
5. The environmental and social risks mentioned herein refer to the hazards and risks on the environment and society that may be brought about by the construction, production and operating activities of banking institutions’ clients and key affiliated parties thereof, including environmental and social issues related to energy consumption, pollution, land, health, safety, resettlement of people, ecological protection, climate change, etc.
6. Article 5 The CBRC is responsible for, in accordance with applicable laws, regulating and supervising banking institutions’ green credit business and their environmental and social risk management.
Chapter 2 Organization and Management
7. Article 6 The board of directors or supervisory board of a banking institution shall build and promote green credit concepts concerning energy saving, environmental protection and sustainable development, be committed to giving play to the functions of facilitating holistic, coordinated and sustainable economic and social development, and establish a sustainable development model that will benefit the society at the same time. [Benefit to the society is a tied with sustainable development, which is included in green credit concepts. ]
8. Article 7 The board of directors or supervisory board of a banking institution is responsible for developing green credit development strategy, approving the green credit objectives developed by and the green credit report submitted by senior management, and monitoring and assessing the implementation of green credit development strategy. [While it is mentioned that CBRC approves institutions pursuant to green credit development strategy, it is not clear whether CBRC also disapproves or regulate institutions which do not follow this strategy, which is more important to set a standard instead of being a rubberstamp.]
9. Article 8 The senior management of a banking institution shall, pursuant to the resolutions of the board of directors or supervisory board, develop the green credit objectives, have in place relevant mechanisms and processes, define clearly the roles and responsibilities, conduct internal checks and appraisal, annually provide report to the board of directors or supervisory board on the development of green credit, and timely submit relevant reports to competent supervisory authorities. [The problem lies in “relevant report” and “internal checks and appraisal”. Relevant report is not necessarily correct and reflects the real situation. What is relevant and what is not is subject to the interpretation of either the banking institutions or the regulatory body. ]
10. Article 9 The senior management of a banking institution shall assign a senior officer and a department and configure them with necessary resources to organize and manage green credit activities. Where necessary, a cross-departmental green credit committee can be set up to coordinate relevant activities. [What needs to be followed up is what interest the senior officer represents. Is he/she more in line with banking interests or with the environmental interest? Green credit policy is par excellence a cross-departmental issue, which engages banking institutions, regulatory committee, foreign office if the business is overseas investment, and environmental protection agency. The wording “where necessary” actually decreases the motivation of cross-departmental cooperation because it creates more space for the departments not to cooperate if they regard it “unnecessary”.
Chapter 3 Policy, System and Capacity Building
11. Article 10 Banking institutions shall, as per national environmental protection laws and regulations, industrial policies, sector entry policies, and other applicable regulations, establish and constantly improve the policies, systems and processes for environmental and social risk management and identify the directions and priority areas for green credit support. As for industries falling within the national “restricted” category and industries associated with major environmental and social risks, they shall customize credit granting guidelines, adopt differentiated and dynamic credit granting policies, and implement the risk exposure management system.
12. Article 11 Banking institutions shall develop client environmental and social risk assessment criteria, dynamically assess and classify client environmental and social risks, and consider the results as important basis for credit rating, access, management and exit. They shall adopt differentiated risks management measures concerning loan investigation, review and inspection, loan pricing, and economic capital allocation. [One question worth asking is whether the differentiated measures are subject to a same set of criteria. Is it the case that countries with weak regulation on environmental protection will be of lower environmental risks, despite of the fact that the ecosystem is fragile in that particular country? What is the criteria of classifying client environmental and social risks?]
Banking institutions shall prepare a list of clients currently faced with major environmental and social risks, and require these clients to take risk mitigation actions, including developing and having in place major risk response plans, establishing sufficient, effective stakeholder communication mechanisms, and finding a third party to share such risks. [The function of this article is to prevent Chinese banking institutions from investing in countries with great environmental risks? The role of Chinese overseas investment is unclear. The agent of clients and a third party is unclear, for example, who is the third party? ]
13. Article 12 Banking institutions shall establish working mechanisms conducive to green credit innovation to boost innovation of green credit processes, products and services while effectively curbing risks and ensuring business continuation.
14. Article 13 Banking institutions shall give priority to their own environmental and social performance, set up appropriate systems, step up the publicity and education on green credit concepts, standardize their operational behaviors, promote green office, and improve the level of intensive management. [the environmental friendly performance is “given priority” only, instead of being regulated and implemented by law. That is to say, environmental and social performance of banking institutions is encouraged, not required. This is a voluntary suggestion. ]
15. Article 14 Banking institutions shall strengthen green credit capacity building, establish and improve green credit labeling and statistics system, improve relevant credit management systems, enhance green credit training, develop and employ related professionals. Where necessary, they can hire an eligible, independent third party to assess environmental and social risks or acquire related professional services by means of outsourcing. [the problem of when necessary is once again visible.]
Chapter 5 Process Management
16. Article 15 Banking institutions shall strengthen due diligence in credit granting. The scope of due diligence on environmental and social risks shall be defined according to the characteristics of the sector and region in which the client and its project is located, so as to ensure the due diligence is complete, thorough and detailed. Where necessary, the banking institutions can seek for support from an eligible, independent third party and competent authorities. [flexibility displayed in the highlighted sentence]
17. Article 16 Banking institutions shall examine the compliance of clients to whom credit will be granted. As for environmental and social performance, compliance checklist and compliance risk checklist shall be developed according to the characteristics of different sectors, so as to ensure compliance, effectiveness and completeness of the documents submitted by the clients, and make sure they have paid enough attention to related risk points, performed effective dynamic control, and satisfied the requirements on substantial compliance. [Differentiation strategy is regarded as a means to “ensure compliance, effectiveness and completeness of the documents submitted by the clients”. This strategy actually creates a space for the particularity of different clients and makes the criteria impossible to track and make the decision subject to the interpretation of banking institutions. ]
18. Article 17 Banking institutions shall strengthen credit approval management, and define reasonable level of credit granting authority and approval process according to the nature and severity of environmental and social risks faced by the clients. Credits may not be granted to clients whose environmental and social performance fails to meet compliance requirements. [usage of “may” in the sentence softens the authority of environmental concern in credit granting. In the Chinese version, the wording is “should not”. It is interesting to know what makes the difference in different language.]
19. Article 18 Banking institutions shall, by improving contract clauses, urge their clients to strengthen environmental and social risk management. As for clients involving major environmental and social risks, the contract shall provide for clauses that require them to submit environmental and social risk report, state and avow that they will strengthen environmental and social risk management, and promise that they are willing to be supervised by the lender; the contract shall also provide for clauses concerning the remedies banking institutions can resort to in the event of default on environmental and social risks made by the clients.
20. Article 19 Banking institutions shall enhance credit funds disbursement management, and consider appropriation management, and regard how well clients have managed environmental and social risks as important basis for credit funds appropriation. As for projects to which credit is granted, all stages, including design, preparation, construction, completion, operation and shutdown shall be subjected to environmental and social risk assessment. Where major risks or hazards are identified, credit funds appropriation can be suspended or even terminated. [This article gives hope to believe the determination of Chinese banking institutions dealing with environmental issues. However, it is still unknown how will define whether a hazard or a risk is a “major” enough one to suspend the credit granting.]
21. Article 20 Banking institutions shall strengthen post-loan management. As for clients involving potential major environmental and social risks, relevant and pertinent post-loan management actions shall be developed and implemented. They shall watch closely the impact of national policies on the clients’ operation, step up dynamic analysis, and make timely adjustment to asset risk classification, reserve provisioning and loss write-off. They shall establish and improve internal reporting system and accountability system concerning major environmental and social risks faced by the clients. Where major environmental or social risk event occurs to the client, the banking institution concerned shall timely take relevant risk responses and report to competent supervisory authorities on potential impact of said event on itself. [whether this internal reporting system can be accessed by the independent third party? ]
22. Article 21 Banking institutions shall strengthen the environmental and social risk management for overseas projects to which credit will be granted and make sure project sponsors abide by applicable laws and regulations on environmental protection, land, health, safety, etc. of the country or jurisdiction where the project is located. The banking institutions shall make promise in public that appropriate international practices or international norms will be followed as far as such overseas projects are concerned, so as to ensure alignment with good international practices.
Chapter 5 Internal Controls and Information Disclosure [overall, there are seven references to “internal”. Is it a sign that this is not open to the public? ]
23. Article 22 Banking institutions shall incorporate green credit implementation into the scope of internal compliance examination, and regularly organize and carry out internal auditing on green credit. Where major deficiencies are identified, investigation shall be conducted to determine whom to be held accountable as per applicable regulations.
24. Article 23 Banking institutions shall establish effective green credit appraisal and evaluation system and reward and penalty system, and have in place incentive and disciplinary measures, so as to ensure sustained and effective offering of green credit.
25. Article 24 Banking institutions shall make public their green credit strategies and policies, and fully disclose developments of their green credit business. As for credit involving major environmental and social risks, the banking institutions shall disclose relevant information according to laws and regulations, and be subjected to the oversight by the market and stakeholders. Where necessary,[five times of appearance] an eligible, independent third party can be hired to assess or audit the activities of banking institutions in performing their environmental and social responsibilities.

Chapter 6 Monitoring and Examination
26. Article 25 Banking supervisory authorities at all levels shall strengthen the coordination with competent authorities, establish and improve information sharing mechanism, improve information services, and remind banking institutions of related environmental and social risks.
27. Article 26 Banking supervisory authorities at all levels shall strengthen off-site surveillance, improve off-site supervisory indicator system, enhance the monitoring and analysis of environmental and social risks faced by banking institutions, timely guide them to strengthen risk management and adjust credit orientation.
28. Banking institutions shall, pursuant to the provisions hereof, perform overall green credit evaluation at least once every two year, and submit the self-evaluation report to competent banking supervisory authorities.
29. Article 27 When organizing and conducting on-site examination, banking supervisory authorities shall take into full account the environmental and social risks faced by banking institutions, and make clear the scope and requirements of examination. As for regions or banking institutions involving prominent environmental and social risks, ad hoc examination shall be conducted and urge said institutions to improve in light of examination results.
30. Article 28 Banking supervisory authorities shall provide more guidance to banking institutions on green credit self-evaluation, and, in conjunction with the results of off-site surveillance and on-site examination, holistically assess the green credit performance of banking institutions, and treat the assessment results, as per applicable laws and regulations, as important basis for supervisory rating, institution licensing, business licensing, and senior officer performance evaluation.

Chapter 7 Supplementary Provisions
31. Article 29 These Guidelines become effective as of the date of promulgation. Village banks, lending firms, rural mutual cooperatives and non-banking financial institutions shall enforce actions in reference to these Guidelines. [I thought this is targeted at policy banks, commercial banks, rural cooperative banks and rural credit cooperatives, where are they now? ]

生態移民 系列報道

标准

签订新条约能帮助数百万气候移民吗?

奥利维亚•博伊德

13.03.2013

Readinen

 

一个国际律师网络希望各国提供资金,帮助那些因气候变化被迫背井离乡的人。

article image

马尔代夫80%的国土海拔不足1米。图片来源:Commonwealth Secretariat

 

荒凉的阿拉斯加东北部,这里的村民们面临着一次艰难的旅程。海冰和永久冻土正在融化,这里不再宜人适居,洪水和侵蚀使万物凋零。

沿岸这些历史悠久的社区还保留着古老名字,比如尤纳拉克利特、戈勒文和特勒,对他们来说,气候变化的压迫感是如此巨大而真切。过去五十年里,这里的温度上升是世界平均速度的两倍。由于政府干预未能消除气候变化的因素,十二个土著群体决定离开,更多的人可能也会这样。

因气候被迫迁移的并非只有他们。类似的地方还有很多:沙赫尔的妇女每天要走25公里去打水,马朱罗环礁的高水位大潮越来越频繁,越来越猛烈,卷走了房屋,淹没了道路,气候变化正在挑战着人类家园的耐久性。从长期来说,许多人必须适应,或者到别处寻找新的生路。

认识到气候变化规模将变得越来越大,一个国际律师网络正在起草一个条约,确保对易受害人群的帮助。

这一活动是在联合国体制外进行的,根据这个提议中的《气候变化移民公约》,富国将同意向穷国提供资金,助其改建房屋,让人们尽可能延长居住时间,或者有计划地将受灾社区逐渐迁移到别处。“公约”还将设置一个框架,以便对更加令人担忧的问题——那些被上升的海平面完全吞没的国家——从长计议。重要的是,这一条约并未要求签署国承诺接受别处的气候难民。

条约草案将于今年内完成,之后起草团队将会开始劝说各国签署加入。

随着专家们纷纷展开开始分析研究海平面上升、沙漠化、冰川湖崩决等气候变化对人类的影响,过去五年中,气候移民已经引起人们越来越浓厚的兴趣。专家们对于移民规模的预期相差很大,少的有几千万,多的则象牛津学者诺尔曼·迈尔斯所说的到2050年将达到2.5亿(占世界总人口的三1/36)。但无论如何,人们正慢慢对气候移民的可能影响形成更清晰的认识。

海平面的上升即将导致太平洋岛国从地图上消失,这个戏剧性的命运毫不意外地成为头条新闻,但如今学者们强调说,大部分气候移民活动都发生在各国境内,真正跨国界迁移的人屈指可数。联合国环境规划署(UNDP)2007年的一份报告指出:“所谓沿海农民被迫收拾家当迁移到一个富国的情况绝非典型,而是把情况过于简单化了。”气候移民的多数负担要由当地来承担。

然而,这并没有让气候移民变成一个容易解决的问题。随着移民带来更加尖锐的土地和水源竞争,很有可能会爆发冲突。对此力有不逮的穷国的政府,将不得不想方设法保护或者另行安置那些易受危害的社区。而且,对那些全部国土都不宜居住的国家来说,国民们必须找到愿意收留他们的别国。这就引发了一系列棘手的法律问题:一个已经被淹没在水下的“国家”还是国家吗?它的渔业权怎么办?其国民的法律地位又将如何?

气候移民条约

那么,一项国际条约对此有什么帮助呢?澳大利亚航空法律师戴维·霍奇金森是条约起草工作的负责人。他说,要点在于气候移民是一个全球性问题,尽管大部分移民并没有跨出国界,但其影响却是跨国界的。他说,“气候变化移民会以这样那样的方式影响到每个国家”,有的是因为国内发生了移民活动,还有的则是被要求掏钱去帮助其他国家。

霍奇金森说,现有的气候和难民法律不足以解决这些移民的问题。他还说,尽管人们正在为此做一些“零星的努力”,比如研究者们正在帮助阿拉斯加社区制定移民安置计划,但还需要做一些更具组织性的工作。简言之,世界需要开始就气候移民问题进行讨论了。

但这样的工作不是已经在做了吗?富国向穷国提供用于适应气候变化资金,已经成为联合国谈判的一部分,而且发达国家已经承诺到2020年提供1000亿美元用于减缓和适应气候变化。那为何还要另起炉灶呢?

对霍奇金斯的团队来说,在气候移民这个范围较窄的问题上形成一个条约,代表着有机会打破僵局、在更广泛的气候变化议题上达成协议。他说:“我们承认制定条约这件事本来就很困难,气候变化方面的条约尤其难。但是我确实认为前进的一个办法就是将问题分成小块,多少会让它更好办一些。”

尽管他的话没错,而且事实证明他的团队在气候移民上的努力比联合国更雄心勃勃(同时也更麻烦)的气候谈判进程更有成果,但前方仍然存在着严峻的挑战。

第一个挑战就是广泛的人类福祉问题。因为气候移民牵涉到大量人口要离开长期生活的家园,寻找新的居住地。如何能够在不影响其他人领土权的前提下实现这一点?

第二个挑战是,这会带来一定的风险,让各国政府用气候变化的借口移走他们想要迁移的国民,或者只是让他们作出糟糕的决策。比如,中国西部有大批牧民在气候变化的名义下被迁出草原,即所谓的“生态移民”。这些牧民滞留在城市,没有生计,也没有社交网络,而此举对草原保护的效果微乎其微。

霍奇金斯爽快地承认,他的条约在这些问题面前的作用是有限的。他说:“我确定各国政府会作出此类决策,我也确定在某些情况下,气候变化会被当作一个借口来达到与气候变化无关的目的。这一点没有疑问,但会产生问题,一些靠条约无法避免的问题。”

资金问题

然而,最大的挑战或许还要数资金问题。发达国家关于“适应基金”的承诺远未能兑现,而且本国气候成本的不断升高也会让它们为别国气候移民提供资助的热情大减。根据灾害分析机构Eqecat公司的数据,单是飓风“桑迪”就给美国造成了高达500亿美元的损失,而且据预测,极端天气事件还会增加。在这种情况下,要说服各国掏出比过去更多的钱来帮助别国应对气候变化,恐怕很难办到。

霍奇金斯说:“在这一点上,有时我们很难不对整个气候变化问题的前景感到悲观。总的来说情况可能是这样的:尽管气候变化是一个全球性问题,但各国都从自身利益出发用更狭隘的方式来处理,只顾及自己的国民,这是完全可以理解的。这种做法的结果也是可以理解的,但可能会非常危险。”

不过,气候移民对话的一个方面让霍奇金斯感到高兴。与气候变化减缓目标、清洁发展机制(CDM)和气候变化讨论中其他更加“理性”的方面不同,移民是一个更容易描述和领会的问题。“人们能够理解它,因为我们都有家。所谓气候移民,就是被迫迁移的家庭,和需要新家的人们。这是一个非常‘人性’的问题。根据我做律师的经验,当人们直觉地理解一个问题时,就会有助于找到解决之道。”

挑战还不止于此。作为一名航空领域的律师,霍奇金斯把气候变化融入了他的职业生涯,在这里他亲眼目睹了关于航空排放立法的所有“死结”。其中最好的例子就是最近欧盟企图将国际航班纳入其碳排放交易体系的尝试遇阻。在谈了一会儿这方面的困难后,他的声音变得明快起来:“哈,气候移民毕竟不会有这么困难。”

 

中国“生态移民”面临新生活的挑战

杜安卓

17.12.2012

Readinen

 

中国历史上规模最大的移民安置项目正在陕西省进行,计划搬迁的人数多达280万。然而,在失去土地、缺少就业机会的情况下,很多人的生活却变得更加艰难。

article image

滔滔洪水和山体滑坡的威胁,村民们不得不搬出祖祖辈辈居住的老房子。
图片来源:杜安卓

 

2010年7月18日,夜。一场突如其来的倾盆大雨袭击了陕西省南部地区。当地七堰村杨家大院被大雨引发的泥石流吞没。泥石流过后的第二天,在被沙土掩埋了24小时后,现年55岁的李军(化名)获救。作为杨家大院唯一的幸存者,他不仅失去了亲人和朋友,还失去了妻子和女儿。

两年过去了,旧村山脚下新建的安置点成为政府大规模搬迁项目的示范点。该项目计划将陕西省——主要是南部山区灾难频发地区——的280万居民迁至新的定居点。 如今,很多人已经搬进了一排排崭新的白色洋楼。然而,七堰村的许多村民却认为政府官员没有兑现其在泥石流之后作出的承诺。新移民在经济上的窘境说明,由于无法为失去土地的村民提供新的就业机会,政府开展的扶贫移民工程正面临着困境。

“这里的环境好些,可是之前在山上的日子要更好过一点,”两年前与丈夫一同迁到新城的李女士说道,“过去,我从来不向政府伸手,都是自食其力。现在,没有土地了,不得不依靠政府。我们还借着债,必须工作。可是,没有什么我们能干的活儿。”

尽管如此,大多数村民还是非常认可移民安置项目,并且表示他们宁愿住在新区,也不愿继续住在山上的老房子里了。七堰村位于陡峭的峡谷上,下面就是溪谷。虽然搬迁安置的目的是为了将村民迁离滑坡危险地区,可是在项目实施的过程中却忽略了那些居住在最危险地区的村民。

“省长让我们不要担心,说滑坡过后他们会为我们提供帮助,”一位在相邻的四川省打工,并且时不时会回家看看的黄姓村民说道,“可是现在,我们很多人的居住条件仍然没有得到改善;只有那些有钱的人才能搬进新区。”

目前,仍然有300多人居住在曾经发生过滑坡的山谷里,而且大部分人还住在原来的老房子里。这些房子随时都面临着滑坡和洪水的危险。村民抱怨说,政府原先答应说会提供搬迁贷款和补助,但这些承诺要么没有落实,要么被当地政府篡改。

今年年初,陕西省省长赵正永再次到访七堰村,视察移民安置项目进展情况,并表示:“对于陕南山区的群众而言,移民安置项目不仅仅是将他们从危险地区搬到安全地区,而是帮助他们实现从贫困到小康的飞跃。”该项目预计耗时10年,搬迁人数是三峡大坝项目130万移民数量的两倍多,耗资160亿元人民币,将是中国史上规模最大的政府搬迁安置项目

然而,据林家明称,省长访问当地期间,他被当地政府锁在了山上的一间屋子里。“我们失去了家、失去了所有亲人,在经历了这一切之后,镇上的干部却因为害怕我说出实情而把我关在山上;省长走了之后他们才放我下山。”

林家明认为,这些人害怕他会将镇政府抬高房价、使安置受阻、导致居民仍然住在山谷的危房中的事情向省长汇报。

最终,林家明获得了一套新房。然而,今天,坐在自家新房铺着薄薄一层水泥地面的客厅里,他却备感不安。“这房子需要交14万元。可是,2010年后我就没有土地了,我的胳膊也在滑坡中受伤了,没办法工作!”虽然获得了3万元的无息贷款,以及失去家人而发给他的6万元补助,可是余下的钱仍让他伤透了脑筋。

几乎所有村民都认为应当为危险地区的群众提供更好的安置。然而,搬迁安置项目不仅仅是简单地让群众搬进新居,更是生活方式的一次集体转型。

生活方式的骤然改变给很多村民造成了极大的伤害。在没有为他们提供适当的就业培训或其他生活手段的情况下,很多人由自给自足的农业生活方式转变为半城市化的生活方式后失去了稳定的收入来源。同时,由于政府仅负担房屋成本的一小部分,那些想要搬进新居的人就不得不想办法支付余下的房款。对一些人而言,这就更加难上加难。

据李女士说,住在新区也带来了很多新的困扰。“燃气、做饭、用电都得花钱,比以前贵多了。过去我们种地,想吃什么吃什么,比现在方便。”

大多数像李女士这样的老年人或中年人都有家人在深圳等南方城市的工厂打工。家人的汇款是这些人的主要收入来源。可是,他们说,这些钱并不够花。同时,随着2008年后经济的持续走低,外出找工作也变得越来越难了。

延伸阅读:《汉江因南水北调濒临枯竭

除了扶贫避灾之外,搬迁安置项目的另外一个目的就是减少农田数量,从而降低流入附近汉江的农业污水量。汉江是南水北调工程的主要水源之一。南水北调工程的目的是为了将水引入干旱的华北地区,其中包括北京。七堰村附近的山坡上就树立着“一江清水送北京” 的标语。

据七堰村的村民说,作为全国“退耕还林”项目的一部分,他们的土地大部分已经成为了林地。退耕还林项目通过向农民提供补贴,鼓励他们在自己的土地上种植树木,从而减缓土壤沙漠化进程,降低农业污染。

李女士跟她的邻居一样,也认为在外打工的孩子最后还是会回家。可是,回来后会有怎样的就业机会,目前还不清楚。搬迁安置项目在改善农村人口居住条件的同时,通常会使他们离开土地,使他们失去最重要的生活保障。如果安置的同时不能给予这些“生态移民”相应的就业培训和就业机会的话,就有可能在解决问题的同时制造新的社会问题。更不用提中国正在快速减少的耕地面积了。

中国的城市化进程使亿万人民摆脱了贫困。然而,随着人力成本的上涨,增加进城务工人员的就业机会将会变得愈加具有挑战性。2008年,很多专家都认为,对于经济低迷时期下岗的外出务工人员而言,返乡才是出路。然而,像七堰村这样的地区,虽然当地居民名义上还是“农村人口”,但是大多数已经没有了土地。

“在这儿找不到工作,你还会觉得这里有前途吗?”刚搬进新居不久的双星村村民王女士抱怨道,“这里是好一些,可是,在这儿,我们谋生的手段不多,我们一点儿土地也没有。”

Vanessa Pupavac “a critical review of the sustainable development philosophy” in China’s opening society: the non-state sector and governance

标准

Vaness試圖通過分析可持續發展的哲學和文化面向,來討論西方或者發達國家的可持續發展的價值觀在發展中國家是否可以存活。 西方的NGO往往是以反對現代化,反對物質發展的形象出現在人們的面前。他們更加強調在地的文化和生活習慣,而不崇尚機械化的城市化發展進程。這也和他們反對工業化進程,追求田園式生活的理想愿景有密切的關係。對於工業化,西方的NGO人士用浪漫主義來抗衡醜陋的工業化。正如著名的歷史學家Thomas Carlyle所形容的十九世紀,文化的中樞是金錢(cash nexux),而人們的頭腦,心臟,還有雙手也越發機械化。在十九世紀,西方出現了一股懷念農村田園牧歌式生活的浪潮,美國的作家Henry Thoreau的瓦爾登湖(Walden)刻畫出他對於簡單和樸素的生活的一種嚮往。維多利亞時代的作家Thomas Carlyle, William Morris,鼓勵農村的手工業,拒絕機械化的乏味製造。或者更準確的說,是把人們從無聊乏味的生產中解脫出來,讓人類有創造性的生產(creative labour)。到了二十世紀的時候,反工業化的思想更多的是從人類學的角度進行闡述。人類學家,比如Ruth Benedict和Margaret Mead發現了自己所生活的社會存在很多問題,問題的出路是保證一個文化多元化的社會,比如說傳統的社區可能給現代化的社會帶來啓發。所以他們反對用發達國家發展的方式來逼迫發展中國家/殖民地走同樣的道路。

Vanessa繼續延伸到個人的層面。有趣的是,在現代化進程中,可欲的形象是充滿野心的改革家,這和可持續發展中人所應該有的謙和,細膩,敏感的人物特點可以說是冰火兩重天。對於勞工權利的重視使得國際社會漸漸放棄了,發展中國家應該走發達國家的路,的想法。E.F.Schumacher的Small is beautiful更是成為發展學科的聖經。國際組織也開始贊助更多在地的中小型的項目,而并不在野心勃勃地讓貧窮國家一口吃個大胖子。西方的政府越來越多地通過NGO給發展中國家提供救助,而并非通過國家與國家之間的雙邊救助。這樣的改變使得西方國家可以更加按其所需(need-based)和投其所好(people-oriented)。

如果說現代化有一個大敵,那么它一定是馬克思主義。馬克思主義的dependency theory揭示了發達國家在發展中國家投資或者干預的野心,就是掠奪資源,獲取權力,並且獲得擁有權。馬克思主義者認為,西方在發展中國家所推行的消費主義實際上是一種洗腦運動,讓發展中國家的人產生依賴,進而利於發達國家的操控。這種反消費主義的主張得到了環保主義者的認同。Rachel Carson的Silent Spring就提出了工業化對於美國城市和村莊的嚴重影響。

吊詭的是,西方NGO所秉持的反對消費主義,反對工業化,反對物質化的主張在發展中國家并不買好,或者并沒有被賞識。因為放棄現代化,放棄工業化,在某種程度上是放棄了讓發展中國家迎頭趕上發達國家的機會,進而拉大了南北的差距。這就使得中國,作為相對發達的發展中國家,在非洲和東南亞,所倡導的發展。因為也許同為發展中國家,中國和她的夥伴們會惺惺相惜,不會粗暴地搬用西方的發展模式。

google alert_10-31-2012

标准

Environmental protests growing 30% every year in China

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2012-10-30
  • 10:55 (GMT+8)
Thousands took to the streets to oppose the expansion of a petrochemical plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. (Internet photo)Thousands took to the streets to oppose the expansion of a petrochemical plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. (Internet photo)

Protests concerning incidents of environmental pollution in China are growing by an average of 29% every year, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.

At a recent meeting of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, Yang Chaofei, vice chairman of the Chinese Society of Environmental Sciences, said that the number of major environmental incidents soared by 120% last year due to a number of emergencies involving heavy metals and other hazardous substances.

The situation is leading to a rise in local protests on account of pollution, Yang said, with 927 cases handled by the country’s Ministry of Environmental Protection since 2005. Seventy-two of the cases involve major environmental incidents, he added.

Yang said the country lacks proper channels to allow the public proper access to environmental data and its laws on environmental protection are unclear. Regulations are also too abstract and impractical, he said, which has led to a lot of discontent among the younger generation born after 1990 that has grown much more aware of green issues.

Yang recommended setting up a platform for members of the public to get involved in discourse about the environment, as well as developing a more complete legal framework and a better system of environmental impact assessment for enterprises and government infrastructure projects. He also advocated setting up round-table forums in communities to present feedback to the government and enterprises on environmental issues.

The BBC previously posted an article on its Chinese website which implied that Beijing routinely ignores environmental issues. The public is fed up with “seemingly scientific” environmental impact assessments that usually conclude that there is no impact or that the commercial benefits outweigh the environmental costs, according to the BBC report.

The lack of faith in China’s environmental protection movement stems from the lack of public participation and channels of communication, the report said, adding that the country’s NGOs are often under the control of the government.

The current system has resulted in numerous large-scale protests which often spiral out of control. More than 10,000 people were involved in recent protests against the expansion of a petrochemical plant in the eastern coastal city of Ningbo, while nearly 100,000 people were caught up in violent clashes with the police while protesting the construction of a sewage pipeline near the city of Qidong in Jiangu province.

Both incidents received global media attention and became hot topics on the internet in China. In both cases, the government ultimately bowed to public pressure and suspended the projects.

People power in the People’s Republic of China!

by Avaaz Team – posted 30 October 2012 18:10

A Chinese protester wears a mask with No PX written on it, as she marches down a street in Ningbo

People and paraxylene don’t mix (AFP/Getty)

After several days of growing and increasingly rowdy protests, officials in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo have backed down and agreed to call off a $8.9bn expansion at a local petrochemical plant.

Some protesters remain sceptical, saying they suspect the cancellation is a tactical move rather than a real concession to resident’s concerns about the health and environmental dangers of the plant. But it’s nonetheless another sign that Chinese citizens are becoming more willing to push back against their government – and that the government is being forced to take notice.

Toxic chemicals? No thanks!

The protest in Ningbo started last week with as few as 200 marchers. They objected to expanding the refinery, already among the country’s largest, to manufacture paraxylene, a suspected carcinogen.

By the weekend, the protest had grown to several thousand, and demonstrators scuffled with riot police as tear gas and batons were met with bricks and bottles. The confrontation attracted international attention at a particularly sensitive time for the Communist party leadership: national leaders have been preparing foran important party congress in November at which new leadership will be announced.

On Sunday, Ningbo officials said they would shelve the project. Still, some protesters continued to picket, dismissing the seeming concession as a ploy to get their opposition out of the public eye.

Not in our backyard

This is just the latest example of Chinese citizens taking to the streets to stop industrial projects. Over the past year or so, mass protests have derailed a huge copper smelter in Sichuan, closed a polluting solar panel factory near Shanghai and led to a chemical plant being shut down in Dalian. Protests also scotched a pipeline in Jiangsu province meant to dump paper mill waste into the sea.

Worried by China’s economic slowdown, government officials are pushing to boost industrial production. But an increasingly well-educated and affluent Chinese middle class is wary of projects they see as endangering their health and the environment in the pursuit of economic growth at all costs. They’re using the web and social media to get their message across, and seem more willing to vocally challenge government decisions they see as unfair.

Walking a tightrope

This presents a delicate balancing act for the central government and the Communist party. The party is quick to crack down on what it perceives as threats to “social harmony”, and officials vigorously deploy the“great firewall of China” to keep Chinese netizens from getting too much information about forbidden subjects. For example, the recent New York Times article detailing the unexplained wealth of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s relatives was quickly scrubbed from the web in China.

Still, the government seems to realise that, in some circumstances, dissent is better channelled than repressed. The fact that protests against environmental and public health threats from factories and industrial pollution are localised, with anger largely directed against local officials, gives the central government a way to defuse opposition before it grows into a broader sentiment against the one-party system.

Next week, the world will learn the names of the leaders who will guide the country for the next decade. But another, more fundamental question will remain unanswered. How long can the government continue to increase economic freedoms without being willing to trust its people with political freedom as well?

Read more: Reuters looks at how China’s experiments with “grassroots democracy” are working.

Sources: Business Week, Reuters, Telegraph, AFP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Next Web, Reuters

  • More than 50 detained in China pollution protests
Chinese police arrest over 50 out of the thousands that blocked a planned chemical plant last week in protest, driven by fears of pollution
AFP , Tuesday 30 Oct 2012

China’s eastern city of Ningbo detained more than 50 people over violent protests last week that successfully blocked a planned chemical plant, state media said Tuesday.Ningbo city said Sunday that work on the 55.9-billion-yuan ($8.9 billion) oil and petrochemical complex would stop after thousands of local residents clashed with police in a week-long protest over pollution fears.

Police detained 51 people who clashed with police last Friday, throwing stones and overturning two vehicles, the Ningbo Daily said Tuesday.

Of the 51, 13 were deemed criminal suspects, the newspaper said, meaning they could face prosecution. Police could not be reached for comment on the report.

Authorities detained another man, who was found carrying a knife, during protests on Sunday evening, said the report, which quoted Ningbo city officials.

Separately, authorities also detained a woman for spreading false rumours that a university student died in the protests, police said in a separate statement.

Environmental pollution has increasingly sparked protests across China, helped by social media, which allows organisers to publicise their causes and rally others despite tight controls in the one-party state.

Ningbo residents told AFP that the protests had tapered off on Tuesday after the government’s pledge to halt the project, despite suspicion the city might try to revive it, but the police presence remained strong.

“The streets are full of patrolling police cars,” said a resident of Zhenhai, which was the proposed site of the plant.

Zhenhai district said Sunday it would “ban” production of paraxylene (PX), a petrochemical used for plastic bottles, which had been the focus of residents’ health fears.

Seeking justice from pollution

Global Times | 2012-10-31 9:55:53
By Yan Shuang

As a series of heated protests against chemical plants, metal factories and heavy industries have rocked China, experts have called on the government to listen to the public’s objections, or risk making the situation worse.

Yang Chaofei, the deputy director of the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences told the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Friday that China needs to consider pollution damage compensation laws as well as regulations to allow environmental lawsuits based on the public interest.

He also told the committee that polluters in China rarely see the inside of a courtroom, let alone receive a guilty verdict. According to Yang, the number of environmental protests in China has been increasing at an average rate of 29 percent per year since 1996, but less than 1 percent of the environmental disputes were settled through laws or the court system.

A ‘sensitive’ bottleneck

Environmental authorities received more than 300,000 environmental petition appeals from 2006 to 2010, while just 1,100 of these were processed at court, Yang said at the lecture. When it comes to big projects that are beneficial for the local economy, appeals from pollution victims are sometimes turned down by courts for being too “sensitive,” he noted.

This can lead to protests, which tend to begin with petitions, then when the government turns a blind eye to public appeals they grow into larger protests, said Cheng Yuyan, a law expert with the Guangdong Institute of Public Administration, who has studied China’s environmental protests.

“As the situation regarding pollution gets worse, members of the public might use this as a chance to express dissatisfaction over other social problems,” Cheng added.

Ignored and outraged

Another reason for the large scale protests is that many cases remain unresolved despite appeals to the court, said Liu Jinmei, a lawyer with the Center for Legal Assistance for Pollution Victims under the China University of Political Science and Law.

Around one third of the cases the center processed never made it to the court, said Liu, with the lawsuit appeals rejected either because the projects bring in a lot of money, or the company has strong connections with the government.

“There are few organizations in China that provide pollution victims with legal consulting services for free, so most of the time people don’t know whom to turn to for help when their living environment is endangered. Some only start seeking help when the case has passed a prescribed period for litigation, or they don’t have access to essential evidence, which means they lose their cases if they are fortunate enough to even have their cases accepted by the courts,” Liu said.

One example is Xu Yu, a 62-year-old villager in Liaoning Province, who said he felt powerless after a four-year appeal with the courts against a polluting chemical plant failed to make any progress.

He said that since a chemical plant was established in the Zhangjiayingzi township, Jianping county, in 2008, there had been several major incidents of poisoning involving nearby residents, including one that involved some 300 students who showed similar symptoms of being poisoned in October 2008. Residents attributed it to pollution from the plant and attempted lawsuits, but were turned down by the courts.

“I appealed at the village, county and municipal courts but they all told me they couldn’t accept the case because it’s a case involving a group of people rather than a personal dispute,” Xu said. Hundreds of residents rallied at the township government for a protest and thousands signed an appeal letter to environmental authorities during the past four years, but the local government and courts always attempted to dodge their responsibilities, he said.

Xu tried to submit an appeal to the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing in August 2010, but was detained by county police for 10 days after he was sent home.

The environmental protests also reveal growing public demand for participation in politics, said Tang Hao, an associate professor of politics at South China Normal University. In recent years, environmental campaigns that began from small groups including environmental activists and scholars, have morphed into massive street protests involving ordinary people. Tang said, adding that fortunately, so far, the protests had not been particularly violent, but if there was no action on this issue, there was a risk that this could change in future.

Learning from the past

Some local governments are repeatedly making the same mistakes when dealing with protests, said Tang. He said they shouldn’t try to suppress public objections and label protesters as “people with ulterior motives.”

“That only makes people angrier, gives the government an excuse to use force, and leads to escalated results,” Tang told the Global Times.

Lin Yanmei, the assistant director of a Sino-US environmental cooperation project under the Vermont Law School in the US, told the Global Times that there were much more aggressive protests in the US before the country established a set of environmental laws in the 1970s, which allow for input from the public and NGOs.

“Currently in China, people tend to seek solutions to environmental issues through means other than the law, which they don’t have much faith in, and the government works toward maintaining social stability instead of encouraging legal action,” Lin told the Global Times.

 

Daily Times                                                                                          Tuesday, November 20, 2012  

As Wen Jiabao departs, China’s dam plans to accelerate

BEIJING: The number of new hydropower projects in China could surge as the country’s populist premier Wen Jiabao retires and a new leadership team races to meet ambitious 2020 energy goals.

Dam building slowed considerably under Wen, who personally intervened to block hydropower projects and avoid the potential for protest from local populations. Projects such as the $59 billion Three Gorges Dam have been the focus of criticism over the social and environmental cost China is paying for development.

More dams could be a tough sell as an increasingly affluent public pushes back against a “growth at all costs” economic model. As China’s new leaders consider how to power expansion, however, they have little choice but to push ahead with hydropower given that alternatives like coal or nuclear fueled power may be even less palatable to the population.

“It isn’t that hydropower is the best choice — it is the only choice,” said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Centre of Energy Economics in Xiamen

“Not everyone agrees with hydropower and especially when it comes to building big dams there are a lot of conflicts and we need to be conservative when considering the impact on the environment, but China has no other option.”

The government aims to boost total power capacity by nearly a half to 1,500 gigawatts by 2020, up from 1,060 GW at the end of last year, while cutting coal consumption and limiting growing dependence on expensive gas imports.

The scale of the task is massive. The increase is roughly equivalent to adding Russia and India’s total combined power generation capacity.

Beijing is also seeking to raise the share of non-fossil fuels to 15 percent of its total energy mix by 2020, up from 9.4 percent in 2011. But China has scaled back its nuclear plans since Japan’s Fukushima disaster, limiting clean energy options and making it harder to hit the targets without many more dams.

Untouched river: Wen’s tenure as premier saw a number of projects shelved, with only a third of the projects identified as a priority over the 2006-2010 period actually going ahead, said Zhang Boting, the deputy head of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, a pro-hydro group.

Among the projects vetoed by Wen were a series of dams on Yunnan’s untouched, UNESCO-protected Nu River, known outside China as the Salween, in 2005. The project has been shelved since, but it is still listed among the government’s key development projects for the 2011-2015 period.

Wen, a geologist by trade and populist by instinct, is due to step down in March 2013. But long before his departure, the tide had begun to turn. China’s latest five-year plan said 160 GW of new hydro capacity needed to go into construction over the 2011-2015 period.

“If implemented, it will result in an unprecedented dam-building push,” said Peter Bosshard, director of environmental group International Rivers, which campaigns against big dams.

The builders of several projects stalled during Wen’s tenure as premier have already begun construction even before receiving approval to go ahead. Giant power firms are preparing new multiple dam systems on the upper reaches of the Yangtze and Mekong rivers in southwest China’s Yunnan province.

The 1.9 GW Huangdeng project, one of a series of dams under construction on the Mekong by China’s biggest power firm, the Huaneng Group, is now 40 percent complete even though it hasn’t yet been fully approved, activists say.

Huaneng and other giant state-owned utilities are clearly confident that final approval will be granted quickly once the new leadership is in place.

Stomach to take on opposition: Policy documents have helped fuel their confidence. An energy white paper published in October said China will “rely on hydropower to meet more than half of the (non-fossil fuel) target”. Total hydro capacity would reach 290 gigawatts by the end of 2015, up from around 230 GW now, and China’s rivers could potentially run as much as 542 GW, the paper said.

According to its “five-year plan” for renewable energy, China aims to launch 60 big hydro plants over 2011-2015.

Wen’s ability to intervene to block hydropower plants was strengthened in 2007 when final approval for dam projects was given to the cabinet, the State Council, chaired by the Premier.

Final approval for big dams will continue to lie with the cabinet, and opponents may be encouraged by the recent remarks of environment minister Zhou Shengxian, who said big projects will need to resolve “social impact” issues before going ahead.

The industry is increasingly impatient. The project delays have angered not only power executives, but also energy officials and local government leaders who say that while dams are disruptive, benefits far outweigh costs.

Xu Dingming, a State Council energy advisor, has repeatedly spoken out against what he sees as the folly of overzealous campaigning against dams, especially in poor regions like Yunnan, noting that stable electricity supplies would galvanize the economy and allow mineral resources to be developed.

How quickly construction accelerates will depend on the stomach of the new leadership to take on and manage public opposition to the projects, Zhang of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering said.

“Whether they will speed up the pace of development will depend on where their courage lies,” he said.

“If they seek to pander to public opinion like Premier Wen, you will have to look at how the public views hydropower.” reuters

google alert_Oct 29

标准

Back to previous page


Ningbo protest, response both typical of China’s environmental debate

By Patti Waldmeir, Leslie Hook and Jamil Anderlini | Financial Times, Monday, October 29, 8:34 PM

NINGBO, China — Environmental protesters in the city of Ningbo, scene of violent weekend demonstrations, went back to work on Monday after the local government made a carefully calculated concession designed to defuse unrest over plans to expand a petrochemical complex.

The Ningbo government took a leaf from the same book as other Chinese cities when faced with protesters whose demands are environmental rather than broadly political: it announced a halt to plans to build a paraxylene facility at a petrochemical plant owned by a subsidiary of Sinopec, China’s biggest oil refiner, in the Zhenhai seaside area near Ningbo.

That concession largely emptied the streets of demonstrators in the eastern port city, leaving only small groups of curious onlookers outside the Ningbo government offices, where a large police presence prevented crowds from forming.

At the Zhenhai chemical industrial area, where a foul odor hung in the air, a handful of angry young men manned a makeshift barricade complaining that the local government had never followed through on a 10-year-old promise to pay a subsidy to local residents because of pollution.

“It’s too smelly here,” says a young man wearing a white face mask over his nose and mouth. “We are here to protect people’s rights,” he says, declining to give his name. His complaint is only tangential to the main protest about the paraxylene plant, but it highlights how unhappiness over an environmental issue can easily spark broader grievances about issues like inequality of income.

The mood in Ningbo highlights a big challenge facing China’s incoming leaders who are set to take power next month: Chinese are more and more willing to take their grievances to the street, particularly for pollution-related issues.

“The time bomb has already been planted,” says Li Bo, environmental activist and board member of Friends of Nature, a Chinese advocacy group. The pollution that has accumulated during China’s decades of rapid growth is now extremely costly and difficult to manage, he says, and environmental concerns are rising.

When Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao came into office a decade ago, one of the first big domestic crises they faced was a toxic chemical spill on the Songhua river in northern China that contaminated the water supply for millions of people. Since then environmental disasters – and related public protests – have continued.

As a result Wen and Hu have put environmental protection higher on the agenda than any of their predecessors. But environmental degradation has worsened under their watch and remains one of the key sources of social instability.

“The problem is we still have an opaque environmental decision-making system that is not really open to the public,” says Ma Jun, an environment expert and head of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs.

Even the humble chemical paraxylene, or PX, the chemical feedstock that was at the centre of the Ningbo protests, has set off multiple large-scale protests across the country.

In 2007, demonstrations against a PX plant in Xiamen succeeded in halting construction there. In 2011, more than 10,000 protesters in Dalian gathered to demand the closure of a PX facility, eliciting a promise from the mayor that he would shut it down.

But local governments do not always follow through on such promises: when the Financial Times visited the PX plant in Dalian, which is owned by Dalian government-backed Dalian Fujia Petrochemical, in June this year, workers, security guards and outside suppliers all said that far from shutting down production the plant had been expanded and was hiring new workers. One western executive of a big petrochemical company in China said the Dalian plant had not stopped production.

The Dalian government and Dalian Fujia Petrochemical declined to comment when asked whether the Dalian plant was still running and why the government had not followed through on its promise to shut it down.

— Financial Times

Yan Zhang contributed to this story.

Chinese protest factory even after official pledge

By GILLIAN WONG, Associated Press – 19 hours ago

NINGBO, China (AP) — After three days of protests by thousands of citizens over pollution fears, a local Chinese government relented and agreed that a petrochemical factory would not be expanded, only to see the protests persist.

The standoff in the prosperous city of Ningbo has highlighted the deep mistrust between people and the government in China. Should they last longer, the demonstrations would upset an atmosphere of calm that Chinese leaders want for a transfer of power in the Communist Party leadership next month.

The protest, which started sporadically last week, swelled over the weekend and led to clashes between citizens and police. The Ningbo city government announced Sunday evening that they and the project’s investor — the state-owned petrochemical behemoth Sinopec — had “resolutely” agreed not to go ahead with the expansion.

Outside the government offices where crowds of protesters stayed, an official tried to read the statement on a loudspeaker but was drowned out by shouts demanding the mayor step down. On the third attempt, the crowd briefly cheered but then turned back to demanding that authorities release protesters detained earlier and believed to be held inside. Though the crowd dissipated late Sunday, about 200 people returned again Monday morning.

“There is very little public confidence in the government,” 24-year-old protester Liu Li said Sunday. “Who knows if they are saying this just to make us leave and then keep on doing the project.”

Protesters returned again Monday morning, though the crowd was smaller, about 200 people, and was comprised mainly of older people. Police channeled the protesters away from the front of the modest government building off to a side street, and plainclothes officers mingled in the crowd.

The city government was likely under great pressure to defuse the protest with China’s leadership wanting calm for the party congress that starts Nov. 8. It was unclear whether local authorities will ultimately cancel the petrochemical project or continue it when the pressure is lower.

Hundreds of people outside the government offices refused to budge despite being urged to leave by officials. Riot police with helmets and shields came out of the government compound and pushed the crowd back. Some people including families ran away. Police dragged six men and one woman into the compound, beating and kicking at least three of them. Police also smashed placards and took away flags.

The crowd roared for the protesters’ release. Police also briefly detained a correspondent from the British television network ITN.

The demonstration in wealthy Zhejiang province is the latest this year over fears of health risks and declining property values from industrial projects, as Chinese who have seen their living standards improve become more outspoken against environmentally risky projects in their areas. A senior adviser to the Environment Ministry told legislators on Friday that the number of protests over environmental issues has increased nearly 30 percent a year for the past 15 years and that they had been getting larger, according to state media.

“The government hides information from the people. They are only interested in scoring political points and making money,” said one protester, Luo Luan. “They don’t care about destroying the environment or damaging people’s lives.”

The protests began a few days earlier in the coastal district of Zhenhai, site of the Sinopec Zhenhai Refining & Chemical Co. factory, which state media has described as an $8.9 billion complex to produce oil and ethylene. On Saturday they swelled and spread to the center of Ningbo city, whose officials oversee Zhenhai.

Residents reported that Saturday’s protests involved thousands of people and turned violent after authorities used tear gas and arrested participants.

Authorities said “a few” people disrupted public order by staging sit-ins, unfurling banners, distributing fliers and obstructing roads.

Early Sunday, thousands of residents began gathering outside the offices of the municipal government. Hundreds marched away from the offices in an apparent effort to round up more support along nearby shopping streets. Police diverted traffic to allow them to pass down a main road.

The crowds in Ningbo are a slice of China’s rising middle class that poses an increasingly boisterous challenge to the country’s incoming leadership: Armed with expensive smartphones, Internet connectivity and higher expectations than the generations before them, their impatience with the government’s customary lack of response is palpable.

A 30-year-old woman surnamed Wang said officers took her to a police station Saturday and made her sign a guarantee that she would not participate in any more protests, but she came back Sunday anyway.

“They won’t even let us sing the national anthem,” Wang said. “They kept asking me who the leader of the protests was and I said that this is all voluntary. We have no leader.”

In a sign that censors were at work, the name “Zhenhai” was blocked on China’s popular microblogging site Sina Weibo.

Protester Yu Yibing said he wanted the factory to be closed and his 7-year-old son to grow up in a clean environment.

“As the common people, we need to live in a green environment. This is a reasonable request,” Yu said. “But the government only puts out some statement and refuses to see us and also suppresses us. I don’t know how else we can express our views.”

The Zhenhai district government said in a short statement on its website Sunday evening that the project wouldn’t go ahead and that refining at the factory would stop for the time being while a scientific review is conducted.

Past environmental protests have targeted a waste-water pipeline in eastern China and a copper plant in west-central China. A week ago, hundreds protested for several days in a small town on China’s Hainan island over a coal-fired power plant.

Associated Press writer Louise Watt and researcher Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.

Title : China protesters wary after chemical plant victory
By :
Date : 29 October 2012 1748 hrs (SST)
URL : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1234117/1/.html 

NINGBO, China: Protesters who forced a Chinese city to halt work on a new chemical plant massed outside government offices Monday in a wary response to a victory which highlighted the country’s growing environmental activism.

Authorities in Ningbo city said Sunday that work on the 55.9-billion-yuan ($8.9 billion) oil refining and petrochemical complex would stop after thousands of local residents clashed with police in a week-long protest.

The demonstrations and apparent victory of local residents are the latest example of unrest stemming from public anger over pollution created by decades of rapid development.

But despite the government promise to halt the new plant of Chinese energy giant Sinopec, some Ningbo residents Monday stressed they had no faith in public officials and the city might try to revive the project.

“The government’s resolution (to halt the factory) is the initial victory we achieved, but the government lacks the public’s trust so this decision cannot be believed,” a protester told AFP by telephone, asking not to be named.

He added up to 200 people gathered outside Ningbo city government offices on Monday morning, smaller than on Sunday when they numbered in their thousands.

“The situation was relatively stable (Monday),” he said.

Police later sought to disperse them even though the gathering was peaceful, according to an AFP journalist who was briefly detained by police. Protesters had left by late afternoon.

Protests were also reported in Zhenhai, the proposed site for the factory, despite a heightened security presence.

“Unfortunately, it is perhaps just a stalling tactic… the government felt pressure and was eager to wind this matter up, so there’s no victory for us,” said Ningbo resident Sha Shi Di Sao Zi on a microblog.

The rallies came ahead of a once-in-a-decade Communist Party congress starting November 8 at which new leaders will be selected. Ahead of the delicate handover, authorities are keen to present a show of harmony.

An editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper Monday said a rising number of environmental-related protests showed the “obsession” of local officials with economic development had to be changed.

“Too many local governments are still preoccupied with gross domestic product,” it said.

“Some local leaders still need to acquaint themselves with the notion that residents’ rights to a healthy environment must be adequately respected.”

In July, thousands of people demonstrated over fears of pollution from a sewage pipeline at a Japanese-owned paper factory in eastern China, dispersing after local authorities pledged to cancel the project.

Earlier this year in the southwestern province of Sichuan, hundreds clashed with police over a planned metals plant in Shifang city. They also forced the project to be scrapped.

Ningbo’s Zhenhai district said Sunday it would “ban” production of paraxylene (PX), a petrochemical used for plastic bottles which had been the focus of health fears.

The statement admitted for the first time that PX, which has been linked in some studies to a wide range of human health problems for those facing extended exposure, was going to be produced at the site.

“As the environmental awareness of the people has been rising, the number of similar cases recently and the scale of such incidents have rarely been seen in the past,” the head of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Ma Jun, told AFP.

“But the current decision-making mechanism, which allows a few government officials, developers and experts to make the decisions, has not introduced public consultation,” said Ma.

An editorial in another state-run newspaper, the Global Times, urged the government to set up a more transparent system for approving projects but said the fate of industrial plants should not be decided by protests.

“Some claim the people in Ningbo scored a victory,” said the newspaper, known for its nationalistic stance.

“But we hold that when deciding a heavy chemical project through such protests, there is no winner, but the whole country loses.”

“But we hold that when deciding a heavy chemical project through such protests, there is no winner, but the whole country loses.”

-AFP/ac

29 October 2012 Last updated at 04:09

China morning round-up: Ningbo factory plan protest

People chant slogans as they march during a protest against plans to expand a petrochemical plant in Ningbo, China, 28 Oct 2012P
papers note an increase in environmental protests ahead of the leadership change

Newspapers comment on protests in Zhejiang’s Ningbo city which forced the local government to shelve a plan to expand a petrochemical plant.

China Daily’s editorial says: “The rapid rise in the number of environmental protests points to two conflicting tendencies: citizens’ awakening environmental awareness and some local authorities’ obsession with economic growth, even if it comes at the cost of the environment.”

“Too many local governments are still preoccupied with gross domestic product; the concern residents have demonstrated about the downsides of this preoccupation should serve as a reminder that the quality of growth is more important than quantity.”

The Global Times’ bilingual editorial says: “Some claim the people in Ningbo scored a victory. But we hold that when deciding a heavy chemical project through such protests, there is no winner but the whole country loses.”

“It’s comforting that the protests this time were resolved in a relatively peaceful manner, which demonstrates that both officials and the public have come a long way. But the inadequate communication and the absence of effective interaction between the two reveals that in many places, local governments are often at a loss on what to do when facing a major public crisis.”

However, not many Chinese-language newspapers other than Ningbo Daily are reporting the government’s decision to back down.

Also on Monday, People’s Daily reports on its front page that a press centre serving journalists covering the Communist Party congress will open its doors on 1 November – a sign preparations for the major political event are in full swing.

The Global Times says passengers have discovered some of Beijing’s taxis have their windows locked, which the paper believes is a security measure implemented ahead of the party congress.

“Some passengers had thrown leaflets out of the taxi window, or inserted leaflets into ping-pong balls and threw them out, or would let go of a balloon which had leaflets tied to it,” the paper quoted a taxi driver as saying.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post and Sing Tao Dailyreport Premier Wen Jiabao visited an exhibition in Beijing on Friday, with photos showing Mr Wen’s big smile.

Sing Tao Daily says the big smile seems to show that Mr Wen has not been affected by claims in the New York Times that his family has amassed hidden riches.

Commenting on a statement from Mr Wen’s family, South China Morning Post says: “The unprecedented statement… was a chance for the leadership to tackle corruption that lies at the heart of the Communist Party’s legitimacy crisis, political analysts say.”

“Wen should seize the opportunity to disclose his own and his relatives’ assets, setting an example for other leaders, which would give a boost to long-stalled efforts to pass ‘sunshine laws’ obliging senior officials to declare their assets,” the Post quoted the analysts as saying.

State media does not appear to have reported the Times’ story.

Newspapers also report more personnel reshuffles in the armed forces ahead of the party congress.

The Global Times says the paramilitary police command of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps – a special economic and semi-military administration in the Xinjiang region – has been upgraded to a deputy corps command.

Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily says a new head for the Tibet paramilitary police force has also been named, while a few command heads of provincial and regional paramilitary police have been renamed commanders.

China Daily and People’s Daily report a radio telescope said to be the biggest in Asia was unveiled in Shanghai on Sunday.

The Global Times and Shanghai Daily say the telescope will be fully operational in 2013. It will assist the flights of Chang’e 3 – China’s next moon exploration programme.

China: Journalists Dragged Away From Protest

A Sky News team reporting on a pollution protest in China is manhandled and dragged away from the scene by officials.

2:11pm UK, Monday 29 October 2012

A Sky News team were among journalists who were “violently” stopped from reporting on an environmental pollution protest in China.

Sky News cameraman Andy Portch was attacked by plain-clothed men as they tried to prevent him filming a protest over expansion plans for a petro-chemical plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

Police sought to disperse hundreds of people outside the Ningbo city government offices, including an AFP journalist who was briefly detained by police.

Sky’s Foreign Affairs Correspondent Lisa Holland was among a crowd when an official tried to stop her reporting on the demonstration.

Thousands marched through the city over the weekend, clashing with police at times – eventually forcing the government to halt the expansion plan on Sunday. But people still gathered outside government offices on Monday to ensure the politicians kept their word.

Holland said: “We were pushed and dragged down a flight of steps and our cameraman Andy Portch was kicked in the back of his calves as plain-clothed thugs tried to wrestle the camera from him.”

He is heard on camera saying: “What are you doing? You can’t beat me up like this. Stop beating me up.”

During the commotion, one protester shouted: “Don’t hit them, don’t beat them.”

A man holding a baby told police not to threaten them, saying: “You are bullying the Chinese people. We have to rely on foreigners to come and help us.”

Oil China
An environmental protest takes place in Ningbo

The Sky team was then marched away by riot police to roars by the crowd and threatened with arrest before being bundled away in a taxi.

The crowd took pictures of the whole episode and uploaded them onto Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

People are using the powerful social media tool to highlight local disputes and controversial protests that never get reported by the state media.

Holland said: “As the authorities tried to prevent us filming the event – the crowds were taking pictures of the whole episode and busily uploading them onto Weibo – their version of Twitter.

“It’s Twitter, but not as people know it outside China. That’s because China’s population of 1.3 billion play a clever game of cat and mouse posting about the issues that matter to them, but not using specific words which will get their messages blanked out by the censors.

“The messages speak in riddles –  a language of Weibo has developed as users read between the lines, but clearly understand each other.

“Through brute force the authorities tried to remove us from the story. But they just aren’t quick enough to stop Weibo and its messages and images. It’s a constant flow of information which is simply overloading the censors.

“China is moving into a power transition when it gets a new set of leaders in the next few weeks. Instability and unrest fills the ruling Communist Party with fear – and Weibo is fuelling that.”

China protesters wary despite win on plant

  • BY:BY PETER PARKS 
  • From:AAP 
  • October 29, 2012 9:20PM
  • Thousands of protesters have stopped the expansion of a petrochemical plant in China. Source: AAP

PROTESTERS who forced a Chinese city to halt work on a new chemical plant have massed outside government offices in a wary response to a victory that highlighted the country’s growing environmental activism.

Authorities in Ningbo city said on Sunday that work on the 55.9-billion-yuan ($A8.63 billion) oil refining and petrochemical complex would stop after thousands of local residents clashed with police in a week-long protest.

The demonstrations and apparent victory of local residents are the latest example of unrest stemming from public anger over pollution created by decades of rapid development.

But despite the government promise to halt the new plant of Chinese energy giant Sinopec, some Ningbo residents on Monday stressed they had no faith in public officials and the city might try to revive the project.

“The government’s resolution (to halt the factory) is the initial victory we achieved, but the government lacks the public’s trust so this decision cannot be believed,” a protester told AFP by telephone, asking not to be named.

He added up to 200 people gathered outside Ningbo city government offices on Monday morning, smaller than on Sunday when they numbered in their thousands.

“The situation was relatively stable (on Monday),” he said.

Police later sought to disperse them even though the gathering was peaceful, according to an AFP journalist who was briefly detained by police. Protesters had left by late afternoon.

Protests were also reported in Zhenhai, the proposed site for the factory, despite a heightened security presence.

“Unfortunately, it is perhaps just a stalling tactic … the government felt pressure and was eager to wind this matter up, so there’s no victory for us,” said Ningbo resident Sha Shi Di Sao Zi on a microblog.

The rallies came ahead of a once-in-a-decade Communist Party congress starting November 8 at which new leaders will be selected. Ahead of the delicate handover, authorities are keen to present a show of harmony.

An editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper on Monday said a rising number of environmental-related protests showed the “obsession” of local officials with economic development had to be changed.

“Too many local governments are still preoccupied with gross domestic product,” it said.

“Some local leaders still need to acquaint themselves with the notion that residents’ rights to a healthy environment must be adequately respected.”

In July, thousands of people demonstrated over fears of pollution from a sewage pipeline at a Japanese-owned paper factory in eastern China, dispersing after local authorities pledged to cancel the project.

Earlier this year in the southwestern province of Sichuan, hundreds clashed with police over a planned metals plant in Shifang city. They also forced the project to be scrapped.

Ningbo’s Zhenhai district said on Sunday it would “ban” production of paraxylene (PX), a petrochemical used for plastic bottles which had been the focus of health fears.

The statement admitted for the first time that PX, which has been linked in some studies to a wide range of human health problems for those facing extended exposure, was going to be produced at the site.

“As the environmental awareness of the people has been rising, the number of similar cases recently and the scale of such incidents have rarely been seen in the past,” the head of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Ma Jun, told AFP.

“But the current decision-making mechanism, which allows a few government officials, developers and experts to make the decisions, has not introduced public consultation,” said Ma.

An editorial in another state-run newspaper, the Global Times, urged the government to set up a more transparent system for approving projects but said the fate of industrial plants should not be decided by protests.

“Some claim the people in Ningbo scored a victory,” said the newspaper, known for its nationalistic stance.

“But we hold that when deciding a heavy chemical project through such protests, there is no winner, but the whole country loses.”

Printing sponsored by:

Sponsored by Kodak Advertisement

Chinese factory plan ditched after protests

Eastern city of Ningbo halts work to expand petrochemical complex after week of protests over environmental impact

  • Agencies in Ningbo
  • guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 October 2012 17.13 GMT
Ningbo

A ceremony to inaugurate a new bridge in Ningbo in 2008. Residents are worried over the environmental impact of expansion plans. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The eastern Chinese city of Ningbo has cancelled plans to expand a petrochemical complex following a week of sometimes-violent protests sparked by concerns over the environmental impact, state media has reported.

A spokesman for Ningbo city government said in a statement carried by the officialChina News Service that no further work would be carried out on the project in Zhenhai district pending further “scientific debate”.

Protests in the eastern city, had swelled over the weekend and led to clashes between citizens and police. The Ningbo city government said in a statement on Sunday evening that they and the project’s investor had “resolutely” agreed not to go ahead with the expansion.

The factory is a subsidiary of Sinopec, one of world’s the biggest petrochemical companies.

Outside government offices an official tried to read the statement on a loudspeaker but was drowned out by protesters demanding the resignation of the mayor and the release of demonstrators being held inside.

Liu Li, 24, a Ningbo resident, said the crowd did not believe the government’s statement. “There is very little public confidence in the government,” she said. “Who knows if they are saying this just to make us leave and then keep on doing the project?”

The city government was likely to be under pressure to defuse the protest with China’s leadership wanting calm for next month’s party congress. It was unclear whether local authorities will ultimately cancel the petrochemical project or continue it when the pressure is lower.

Hundreds of people outside the government offices refused to disperse despite being urged to leave by officials. Riot police with helmets and shields pushed the crowd back. Six men and one woman were dragged into the compound by police, who beat and kicked at least three of them. Police also smashed placards and took away flags.The demonstration in wealthy Zhejiang province is the latest this year over fears of health risks from industrial projects, as Chinese who have become more outspoken against environmentally risky projects in their areas despite improvements in their living standards.

“The government hides information from the people. They are only interested in scoring political points and making money,” said one protester, Luo Luan. “They don’t care about destroying the environment or damaging people’s lives.”

The protests began a few days earlier in the coastal district of Zhenhai, where the petrochemical factory is located. On Saturday, they swelled and spread to the centreof Ningbo city, whose officials oversee Zhenhai.

Residents reported that Saturday’s protests involved thousands of people and turned violent after authorities used tear gas and arrested participants.

Authorities said “a few” people had disrupted public order by staging sit-ins, unfurling banners, distributing fliers and obstructing roads.

今天

标准

今天晚上剛剛從貝爾法斯特回來,看到郵箱裡面有一封從學校寄來的信。我猜肯定是和獎學金有關係,但是自己不敢打開信件,因為太害怕結果讓人失望。我讓小麥打開了信,意料之中的是我沒有得到那個獎學金,但是意料之外的是他們拒絕給我的理由,說是我的院系沒有提名我。但是我的導師有提名我,而且他是系主任,不知道究竟是出了什麽狀況。

當時看到信的第一眼還很鎮定,但是越想越難過,越覺得驚恐。我擔心我的博士之夢因為經濟上的原因不能實現,我擔心我在短期之內找不到工作,我擔心會讓爸爸媽媽小麥還有所有關心我的人失望,我擔心我自己會一輩子恨自己當時的不努力。各種感情直衝我的大腦,打亂了我所有的理性思考,也摧毀我的一道心理防線,我擔心我對於知識的渴求換不來我對於父母的回報。我是用什麽來衡量什麽?

小麥耐心地聽了我的各種吐槽。我窩在家裡床邊的一個角落,蜷在那裡像是一個被社會欺負的小孩。他坐在我身邊,安慰我,鼓勵我,給我信心,給我勇氣,也給我希望。我不知道他對於我的評價有多么客觀,但是他說每一個成功的人他們印象最深刻,最定義他們人生的時刻,不是順利,而是失敗挫折。這也許就是人生的辯證吧。挫敗定義了成功,也奠定了成功的基礎,不過前提是我要站起來我要不斷地嘗試。上個星期看了一部叫做the best exotic marigold hotel的商業片。裡面有一句話我印象很深刻,一位老婦人說the only failure in one’s life is failure to try.人生最大的失敗是沒有去嘗試。這次的挫敗給了我一個機會讓我去把自己明明知道的智慧付諸實踐,用努力來詮釋我自己對於這句話的理解。人生,簡單和複雜都在於此。簡單在,我們知道什麽是對的,什麽是錯的。複雜在,我們自己的詮釋又各不相同因為命運的不同。小麥說,我很幸運,因為我之前都沒有跟什麽權威做出妥協,沒有屈尊自己的理想。他說得對,起碼,我還是一個自己尊重的人。我的一切,才剛剛開始。

在洗手間洗臉的時候,洗著洗著我笑了,看著鏡子里的自己,我不知道自己是不是會成功,但是我堅信,如果我成功了,那也是我身後站著的這個男人,還有默默支持我為我驕傲的父母,還有不嫌棄那個時而無厘頭的大康的我的朋友們。這是一篇勵志的文章,對於我來說,我只希望,我有力氣去嘗試,有理由去希望,有機會去回報。我愛你們。我會更加努力。