China's generation green

Introduction - Jimmy Thomson
Fighting against pollution of the Huai River

Thousands of protesters in Guangdong province forced the local government to soften its push to build a new chemical plant this month. Emboldened by extensive social media involvement, the protesters confronted the Maoming government on its plan, and won.

The victory didn’t come cheap: dozens of protesters were arrested, and there are rumours of injuries and even deaths, although those are denied by the government. But the hard-won battles are proving effective. This is the fifth time a proposal to build a paraxylene (PX) plant has been derailed by environmental protests, and building on that success environmental protests are estimated to be increasing by 29 per cent per year.

Environmentalism in the West is often tied to civil disobedience and anti-establishment principles, so it’s unthinkable that China’s authoritarian government would allow anything of the sort. After all, the government is known to imprison human rights and democracy activists – so why not environmentalists?

The Chinese government knows how serious the problem is.