According to The Los Angeles Times (“U.N. REPORT RAISES PRESSURE ON CHINA TO CUT POLLUTION”, 2007-04-09) studies (we’re not sure which exactly) estimate that pollution exacts a 7% to 10% cost on China’s economy. This is significantly more than the 1% or 2% the Chinese government estimates.
However, complicating what passes for an environmental debate in China are still layers of political sensitivities, a highly controlled media, widespread rural poverty and a long tradition of top-down government.
Still, in the past it has been the urgent desire to maintain the momentum of economic growth that has shifted the usually pretty ossified Party into action – if pollution is actually costing a lot then maybe it’s time to do something about it…or then again, maybe not.
Outsourcing to NGOs in China
NGOs still find themselves limited in China, often distrusted and viewed more as a source of free cash than a partner. Registration alone is a major obstacle that deters many from ramping up their activities in China.
So interesting that Reuters is reporting that Beijing is increasingly recognizing NGO strengths in reaching out to disadvantaged groups, and is experimenting in Jiangxi province with essentially sub-contracting some of its poverty relief work to NGOs, through a bidding process.
The selected NGOs go to their assigned villages to listen to residents about how they want their RMB500,000 (US$65,000) in government aid to be spent. They then help implement the plans.
Paul French, China Editor