Courage needed for a country fit to live in

Updated: 2014-02-28 07:23

By Chen Weihua(China Daily)

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The ministry was upgraded in the central government hierarchy in 2008 on the basis of National Environmental Protection Administration, but the overlapping of responsibilities with other ministries and departments often means there is no accountability to anyone.

The good news is the ministry is likely to be further strengthened by taking over the overlapping responsibilities from the Ministry of Land and Resources, the State Forestry Administration, the Ministry of Water Resources and the State Oceanic Administration.

The Environmental Protection Ministry should indeed become the most powerful ministry in the nation, given the huge environmental challenge the country faces.

The upcoming session of the National People's Congress, the nation's legislature, should address this pressing issue and further improve and strengthen the environmental laws and regulations.

However, a more powerful weapon is raising the awareness of the public and civil society of what they can do to combat the polluters. The growing public pressure on polluters has become especially important when some officials and academics continue to promote the view that pollution and environmental degradation are a necessary step in the country's development, citing the severe smog experienced by some British and US cities more than half a century ago.

But China does not need to repeat the mistakes of others, it needs vision and courage to learn from the experiences of other countries.

Otherwise, the glitzy skylines of our cities will disappear in the smog, and the wealth accumulated by the people and government will be spent on medical bills. That would not be a beautiful country anyone wants to live in.

The author, based in Washington DC, is deputy editor of China Daily USA.

(China Daily 02/28/2014 page8)

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