NIMBY with Chinese Characteristics

NIMBY(what backyard?).jpg Nice take on the rise of NIMBYism in China here: Not in My Backyard: China’s Rising Middle Class Growing Environmental Contention    I noted this phenomenon in the article, “Who’s Cleaning up this Mess?” linked to the right.  The reports of riots by peasants to stop discharges of highly toxic pollutants from neighboring plants have been around for years.  In most of these cases, there were demonstrable adverse health impacts (high infant death rates, large numbers of birth defects, etc.) caused by the pollution, and the violent reactions of the powerless victims could be viewed as the only avenue of self-defense.  The difference in this new breed of public protest is that they are decidedly less violent than the old forms and based on fears of prospective adverse health effects and loss of property value.  In my view these new protests are rather optimistic expressions of a belief that the “voice of the people,” peacefully channeled, will be heard.  I think this is good news for China.  In some cases simply complying with existing rules regarding public participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process could diffuse the situation.  To completely address the problem, the public participation rules need some tweaking (but the tweaks are neither substantial nor particularly controversial) and they need to be consistently followed.  These changes can be accomplished.  The inevitable clashes of interests should not be feared, and, in most cases, can be, dare I say it, “harmoniously,” resolved through implementation of a fair and transparent construction project approval processes.  Am I too sanguine?


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Filed under EIA, NIMBY, public participation

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