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.