Green Politicians less likely to be promoted in China

26 Feb

Whilst there has been much furore in recent years about the ever increasing levels of pollution engulfing many of China’s major cities, it seems the issue is of secondary importance to much of China’s leadership. According to research from Economists Wu Jing, Deng Yongheng, Huang Jun, Randall Morck and Bernard Yeung, the agenda of much of the Communist party is focused firmly upon economic growth, often at the expense of environmental quality, and this was often attributed to individual ambition for higher office. Indeed ,  they found that for every additional 0.36 percentage points of local GDP spent on the environment, a party secretary’s chances of promotion would drop by 8.5 percentage points.

It is certainly interesting to read that, in the eyes of the economists, officials who prioritized the environment over boosting the economy through the investment in new infrastructure would be labeled as ‘unambitious’, perhaps explaining the drop in environmental expenditure. Noticeably these views are not representative of the general public. Whilst only 9 per cent of officials believed that a politician who cared more about the economy than the environment should be sacked, an overwhelming 71 per cent of the public believed this should be the case.




3 Responses to “Green Politicians less likely to be promoted in China”

  1. ja11g12 March 6, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    it is interesting to see what the turning point will be within Chinese politics when focusing on the environment becomes a legitimate issue and will become a top priority alongside economic growth. At this current rate, it seems that it may not happen until it’s too late for the problems to be solved.

    • jk10g11 May 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

      In changing the politics for the better, it is necessary for the people to convey more pressure on the politicians. As protest in October 2012 against the expansion of a toxic petrochemical plant in Ningbo showed, if the people speak with one voice they can achieve themselves to be heard.

      However, this might have only been a tactical retreat and by no means a sign that China’s politicians are acquiring a climatic conscience. The peaceful retreat of the government happened just a week before the 18th Party Congress and a transfer of power. And said congress were to focus the world’s eyes on China again and it was therefore absolutely necessary for the leaders to ensure peace in their country.

      China’s rulers are accused of seeing climate risks and disasters as ‘annoying stepchild of economic growth’ which causes the population to react in a manner as the protest last October showed. I personally believe that it is these protest, even if censored and controlled by the Chinese government, that will ultimately result in a change of the Chinese government.

  2. ags2g09 May 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    The pollution issue in China is certainly one of the more disturbing – perhaps the only thing more disturbing than the issue itself is the disdain with which environmentalist politicians are treated. The statistic about percentage points in the article is shocking, particularly when one considers that in April of this year, the New York Times reported that outdoor air pollution contributed to a massive 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010 – which, putting this number into perspective, is an unprecedented 40% of the global total of deaths of this nature. China is a developed country, one of the growing world super powers – to be accountable for these sorts of figures is surely unforgivable. Something must be done. If the figures I have already provided still have not explained how serious this issue is, consider that researchers are of the view that the price China has paid for its pollution problems is a staggering 25 million healthy years of life from its population. India, whose total population is 1.2bn (compared to 1.3bn in China), and as a country deemed to be not as developed as China, has outdoor air pollution death figures of 620,000 – which is only HALF of those in China. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris, warned back in March that if nothing was done to try and rectify this issue, ‘urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide by 2050, ahead of dirty water and lack of sanitation’. The latter two of these issues are most commonly seen in third-world countries and the fact that China, a recognised first-world country, may be the main contributor to a higher cause of death, is simply stunning.

    In my view, this article also throws up the much discussed issue of democracy in China once more. The fact that the discrepancy between public officials (9%) and the common people (71%) thinking of the environment as a centrally important issue is so huge must surely lend further weight to the argument that democracy is a concept China should give real consideration to embracing. Even a government that comes to power without the forces of democracy must still retain the support of its people to be effective, and how can a government retain such support when the views of 71% of the people are virtually being ignored? I have said it once but I will say it again: something must be done.

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