中国大気汚染 これは体制の問題だ

–The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 11
EDITORIAL: Chinese leaders must heed the opinions of their coughing citizens
(社説)中国大気汚染 これは体制の問題だ

People in Beijing and many other cities in China cannot see a clear blue sky amid the latest bout of air pollution.

The concentration of fine, deadly particulate matter called PM 2.5 has far exceeded safety standards, prompting the government to close schools and forcing people to wear masks when they go to work.

The toxic smog that has blanketed the capital and other parts of the nation should be regarded as a violation of people’s right to live. China should ask itself why the problem has become so serious.

A combination of factors has caused this public health crisis, including smoke from factories, exhaust gas from automobiles and coal burning.

While the serious health hazard of rapidly deteriorating air quality in China has become widely recognized as the “PM 2.5 problem” only in the past several years, air pollution actually has been damaging human health in the country for more than a decade.

Japan and other industrial nations have the bitter experience of suffering from air pollution and water contamination from economic development.

These countries had to go through a similar process in overcoming the problem.

First, people facing pollution expressed their concerns and complaints and demanded policy responses to the problems. Experts then investigated the problems, and media reported on them. Eventually, the judiciary ruled on lawsuits, forcing the government, which tends to put higher priority on the interests of businesses, to take action to deal with the situation.

But this mechanism is apparently not at work in China.

One factor believed to be behind China’s bad air is the poor quality of gasoline. No serious efforts to address the problem have been made because state-owned oil companies have close ties with the Communist Party leadership, according to observers.

The new air pollution prevention law, which will go into force at the beginning of next year, contains provisions requiring the establishment of quality standards for fuels. But the measure has come too late.

In February this year, Chai Jing, a former reporter at China Central Television, released online a documentary film on air pollution, evoking a huge public response. Initially, the minister of environmental protection praised the video, but it was removed before long. It is believed that authorities, alarmed by civic protests triggered by the film, took it off the Internet.

There have been recent outbreaks of opposition to plans to build factories in various parts of the nation. Chinese citizens are becoming increasingly more conscious of environmental problems.

The Chinese government’s refusal to listen to such voices is probably the principal cause of the serious decline of air quality.

The media have reported on government measures to improve the situation, such as shutting down factories that illegally discharge pollutants into the atmosphere.

These reports may be aimed at touting the government’s policy actions. But such dirty factories would have disappeared long ago if the government had respected the will of the people.

This is a matter that affects people’s lives.

Air pollution causes more than a million deaths in China every year, according to one estimate.

What is especially worrisome is the impact on the health of children.

Reportedly, a growing number of children in China are being rushed to hospitals because they can’t stop coughing.

Japan and China have various frameworks for bilateral cooperation on environmental problems.

More efforts are needed on various levels to come up with ideas to support China’s fight against air pollution. Japan’s central and local governments as well as nongovernmental organizations should be involved in such efforts.

We should tackle this formidable environmental challenge to help sensible Chinese people again see the blue sky.


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク


以下に詳細を記入するか、アイコンをクリックしてログインしてください。 ロゴ アカウントを使ってコメントしています。 ログアウト / 変更 )

Twitter 画像

Twitter アカウントを使ってコメントしています。 ログアウト / 変更 )

Facebook の写真

Facebook アカウントを使ってコメントしています。 ログアウト / 変更 )

Google+ フォト

Google+ アカウントを使ってコメントしています。 ログアウト / 変更 )

%s と連携中