Beijing’s rules, harder disadvantages for offenders and give more

Beijing’s air
pollution is sometimes so severe that people go outside wearing masks and they instantly
feel their throats sore. Recently, most part of China seem to believe that China
has become wealthy and powerful, but in my perspective, in reality, China is a
country with both weakness and strength, and one of the most concrete weak
point is the environment. It is not an overstatement to say that China is weak
country in regard to an environmental problem. The country that is environmentally
weak may mean that China’s ecological environment has become vulnerable and the
environmental concerns are devastating China.

As
the result of environmental deterioration in China become more devastating than
ever, the government is cracking down the country. As a solution for its war on
pollution, China revised the country’s Environmental Protection Law (EPL) in
2016. The amendments make higher environmental protection rules, harder disadvantages
for offenders and give more authorities to environmental firms. Companies who
break environmental rules may have their utilities cut, equipment demolished
and also shut down of the facilities.

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Even
though China’s environmental regulations are comparatively strong than other countries,
its implementation and conduction are still poor. So, what is the reason for
China to come up with a definitive solution to this widespread environmental
problem, so hard?

Firstly,
Corruption takes a part. Local governments and environmental bureaus who are
noncompliant has been one of the main hindrances to solve the environmental
issues in China. Also, companies are known to give bribes to Chinese officials
in exchange for overlooking offences. In 2015, former vice minister of Ministry
of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun has been kicked out of the Communist
Party for selling fake quality controllers and for his participation in the trade
of replica monitoring tools. For another example, the government has organized
a deep-rooted alliance with gigantic state-owned companies such as CNPC, such that
it is very difficult for regulations to put strict supervision on them. While anti-corruption
organization’s struggles might help to block such illegal behaviors, the
situation is probably to remain.

Secondly,
another part of the problem is that most of the operations of environmental
protection is locally done, with the state government given limited power. Although
the environment ministry could give some directions to local departments of
environmental protection, the real power they have is scarce. This is a trouble
because local departments are usually more worried with economic growth than
the environmental issues. And they believe polluting firms could be motors of
local economic activity. As local governments manage the budget and recruitment
of the departments, there is a certain advantage to not obey environmental
violation rules for the sake of the country. To give a specific example, although
many businesses across China’s manufacturing sector are responsible for the
country’s environmental problem, the aluminum industry has been a predominant severe
polluter. According to the reports, 62 aluminum companies which are responsible
for more than 80% of Chinese aluminum, have broken the air pollution rules.
This was possibly thanks to local government’s immoral kindness.

Thirdly,
local governments are lack of funds and employees to reinforce environmental
regulations effectively. For instance, local government in Jiangsu province usually
have only one supervisor to observe harmful waste disposal. From time to time, just
one person will be in charge of hundreds of plants. In 2015, it was reported
that the environmental protection agency in Hebei province had only 50 people
to monitor exhaust emissions, compared to 700 in Beijing. Without local
governments allocating enough funds for enforcing regulations and to monitor
the crime, tougher amendments will hardly have their effects.

Lastly,
the problem also lies on individuals. There is a tendency to suppose that people
in China are eager to solve environmental pollution and, fortunately, 76
percent of Chinese people think they are responsible for the environmental
problem. However, the problem is that they just have interests about it and
have no action. Public good is often foregone in what Garrett Hardin has named
“Tragedy of the Commons.” That is to say, individuals performing rationally in
their own benefits, consequently and collectively producing pollution.

             China has engaged essential steps
to move in the right track of environmental protection, as the current EPL
amendments illustrate. The voice of the public is rising, and the government is
starting to answer. But, as long as structural system and insubordinate local
governments are not brought into control and normal citizens who have
responsibility for their environmental issue does not take action, China’s fatal
pollution problem will hardly to solve.

The
several power holders of China’s environment, such as immoral environmental organizations,
insubordinate governments and unethical companies, should seize the chance to
protect environment given by the amendments and regulations. The environment of
the country should be preserved by the people and for the people.