Over the weekend I was listening to my favourite radio station - BBC Radio Four. Last night there was a feature programme on called 'Analysis', in which a reporter visited Beijing to assess the significance of the new green activism there.
As the publicity around the Tibetan human rights issues currently shows us, it is dangerous and rare for ordinary people in China to challenge officialdom. But in the area of green activism there are signs of change. One study concluded there are over 2 million environmental groups in China, but it is hard to measure whether environmentalism there is really effective.
Rapid industrialisation has scarred China's environment, with a quarter of drinking water now contaminated.
The programme reports on small acts, like a campaign against disposable chopsticks in restaurants, to larger ones, like spontaneous street protests over a chemical factory in the city of Xiamen. The question is now can the green movement test the limits of the Chinese political freedom?
Interviewees in the programme include:
- Zhang Jingjing, the lawyer dubbed the "Erin Brokovitch of China"
- Lo Sze Ping, director of Greenpeace China
- Ma Jun, known internationally for his work to save China's lakes and rivers
To download the podcast of this program click this link.