May 22, 2008
Enforcing environmental law in China
Here's a piece from the May 1st edition of The Economist about the problems of enforcing environmental law in China, and the fate suffered by whistle-blowers such as Wu Lihong, who is now languishing in prison for his efforts while his wife is the target of continued surveillance and harassment. I'm not an expert in environmental law or policy, but I cannot offhand think of any societies that managed to tackle the pollution caused by industrialization solely through top-down government efforts of the kind with which the Chinese state is comfortable. Of course, state law has played an important role, but citizen involvement, whether as a spur to government action or as plaintiffs in environmental lawsuits, appears indispensable. Government officials cannot monitor every pipe end in the country.
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