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A Turning Point for China?
24th January, 2008
The halting of a controversial petrochemical project in south China was a victory for people power, writes China Dialogue's Tang Hao. Now the country should consider the reforms it needs to enshrine public participation in law.As ecological destruction makes an ever more significant impact on daily life in China, public participation in environmental protection has increased. The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has encouraged this trend, and regards participation as essential to solving environmental issues. In 2006 a document from China’s cabinet, the State Council, specified that public consultations must be held in cases when a project will have an impact on the public’s environmental interests. SEPA regulations state that participation is necessary for environmental impact assessments and that the publication of environmental information is a prerequisite. Many officials have offered support, verbal and written, for public participation in environmental protection.
Last month in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen (also known as Amoy), these words were put into practice. The provincial and municipal government reportedly bowed to public pressure and halted construction on a Taiwanese-invested paraxylene (PX) petrochemical plant. The project is now being moved to the southern Fujian city of Zhangzhou. Its opponents included white-collar workers, the elderly and housewives, who used a range of methods to...
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