Toughts, news and small talk mainly concerning China from a berlin perspective

4/07/2005

Grassroots Growing In China



I wrote about the big plans Pan Yue, deputy environment minister has some time ago, and was quite skeptical if his institution (the State Environmental Protection Administration) really has the power to stand up against those who see economic growth as the only criteria of success and the powerful local administrations. Now I found an interesting article by Elizabeth C. Economy author of "The River Runs Black", in which she describes the growing environmental grassroots movement and its close ties with the SEPA:

Environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are at the forefront of strengthening civil society in China, drawing hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens into environmental activities, forging non-state linkages across provincial boundaries, and establishing the Chinese people as political actors independent of state-directed policies. Environmental NGOs also play a critical role in advancing transparency, rule of law, and official accountability within the Chinese political system. Through this process, they have become a significant force for political reform. ...

... Still, SEPA support for NGOs is very strong. It is common now for high-ranking SEPA officials, such as Pan Yue, to articulate the necessity of environmental NGOs for safeguarding the environment. Pan has also said that within the next two years, SEPA will help to establish an NGO cooperation network and to provide professional training for small grassroots groups. He believes that it is critical to have the Chinese people engaged in environmental protection and to open the decision-making process for environmental issues to make it democratic. ...



Would be interesting to hear more about these guys in the mainstream media. Shows that the Chinese government is not an as monolithic block as which it appears in most of western media.

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