(TibetanReview.net, May30, 2018) – “We will never develop economy at the cost of the environment” has been the oft repeated high-profile rhetoric of top leaders in Chinese ruled Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) over the past many years. But according to a Reuters report May 29, the TAR was among a total of eight regions that had to promise to beef up anti-pollution curbs, vowing fresh cuts in smog, cleaner water and soil and tighter scrutiny over government officials after Beijing-led probes uncovered thousands of violations.
The report cited China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) as saying May 29 that the heavily populated industrial provinces of Shandong, Zhejiang and Sichuan were among the regions committing themselves to new measures, as well as Xinjiang and the TAR in the remote northwest.
The report said that as a part of efforts to crack down on persistent polluters and negligent local administrations, Beijing had launched a nationwide audit at the end of 2015 into the environmental records of 31 provinces and regions. Under it, teams led by retired ministers were granted powers to make unannounced spot checks at factories and summon local bureaucrats to explain their actions. And the inspections were completed last year.
The report did not say what precise pledges and commitment had been made by the TAR government to curb environmental violations, nor did it mention any specifics about the violations.
Sichuan, which includes traditional Tibetan territories of Karze (Chinese: Ganzi) and Ngaba (Aba), and which is a major hydropower region, was reported to have pledged to improve regulation and shut down plants that encroach on protected land.
The report said that by the end of Mar 2018, more than 2,000 government and state enterprise officials in 15 regions had been held to account as a result of the inspections. It added that most received an official reprimand and 22 faced criminal charges. No specific cases have been mentioned.
The report noted that China’s President Xi Jinping had vowed this month to use the full might of the Communist Party to redress the damage done to the country’s skies, soil and water since its economy was first opened up in 1978.
Seeing the problem as still persistent, Beijing is planning to launch a second round of regional environmental inspections early next year, the report said, citing a Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily report last week.