Trans-Regional Environmental Watchdog Pressed to Tackle Pollution in and around Beijing

Manila Bulletin, May 26, 2017 | Go to article overview

Trans-Regional Environmental Watchdog Pressed to Tackle Pollution in and around Beijing


By Philippine News Agency

China is considering a pilot trans-regional environmental protection agency that realizes the same planning, standards, assessment, monitoring and law enforcement in Beijing and neighboring Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province.

At a Tuesday meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, the issue of air pollution in the Chinese capital and its surrounding regions was raised, and a trans-regional watchdog under the direct guidance of the Ministry of Environmental Protection was proposed.

"Aspects of the environment such as water and atmosphere spread easily, and pollution and ecological damage usually stretch across administrative regions, which makes a trans-regional environmental agency indispensable," said Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection.

"Weak law enforcement has long been a thorny problem in environmental protection in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, especially in less developed Hebei, where local protectionism always puts economic development first at the expense of environment," said Sun Youhai, head of Tianjin University law school.

However, located in the same basin, polluting emission from one place inevitably drifts to others, as does waste water. But Beijing cannot hold polluters in Hebei or Tianjin responsible in the current system.

The ministry has already set up six environmental inspection centers across China to supervise and drive local environmental protection.

"The centers are basically soft coordination mechanisms. A trans-regional watchdog should be a strong executing agency that can approve, assess, examine and implement environmental programs by itself," said Xia Guang, director of the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy under the ministry. …

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