China's great greenwashing

Beijing, China on a smoggy dayHere, we call them cancer clusters. Their existence is practically denied much of the time, and when it is acknowledged the polluting industries in the neighborhood often deny any culpability.

They can get away with that, because in most cases the industry has been in town for a good long time, so it's harder to trace the direct causality. That's not the case in Hou Wang Ge Zhung: Since a chemical factory was built in the area just five years ago, 25 of the villagers have been diagnosed with cancer. Nineteen of them have died.

Hou Wang Ge Zhung is one of China's cancer villages. It's not far from Beijing, but politically the city is doing everything it can to distance itself from these small, cancer-riddled towns. The villagers have been told that their legal complaint will have to wait until after the Beijing Olympics, because government officials don't want anything to mar the city's new "green" appearance.

So basically, even though the government went to great lengths to put environmental laws and regulations in place, they won't be enforced at all for the next 8 weeks . . . because that might look bad. That's pretty much the grandest greenwashing scheme I've ever heard of.

Photo by Dip.

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