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Kanzler June 20th, 2013 6:51 PM

Polluting to death: China introduces execution for environmental offenders


China has introduced “harsher punishments” for breaking the nation’s environmental protection laws: reckless violators of pollution standards in the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economy now face execution.

A new judicial interpretation taking effect on Wednesday has tightened Chinese “lax and superficial” enforcement of environmental protection laws, Xinhua reported citing a government statement.

The government is set to introduce a “precise criteria for convictions and sentencing” while the “judicial explanation provides a powerful legal weapon.” Law enforcement should take environmental regulations seriously and “all force should be mobilized to uncover law-breaking clues of environmental pollution in a timely way,” the statement reads.

Earlier this month the cabinet approved new measures to combat air pollution as social discontent over the air quality in urban centers continues to rise.

To help tackle the environmental danger, Beijing has promised to focus more on solar energy, despite ongoing trade disputes with the United States and Europe.

The State Council approved 10 anti-pollution measures aimed at reducing emissions from the industries which contributed to the country’s economic miracle of the last three decades.

Cutting emissions per unit of GDP in key industries by at least 30 percent by the end of 2017 is one of the main objectives alongside curbing the growth of high-energy-consuming industries such as cement, steel, glass and aluminum.

Among other key measures on the table is to strengthen enforcement of penalties that firms pay based on their emissions scale. China also promised legal action for those industries that fail to upgrade pollution controls and introduce emissions standards.

The battle for the environment became the new leadership’s top agenda when the country underwent its once in a decade power transition. The previous leadership started the effort but enforcement has often been lacking.

According to a report published in April 2010 by Global Burden of Disease Study, air pollution in China was a contributing factor to 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010, almost 40 percent of the global total. Researchers equate that figure to 25 million healthy years of life from the population.

In March, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development stated that “urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide by 2050”, estimating that up to 3.6 million people could die prematurely from air pollution each year, mainly in China and India.

The Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning in March said that cost of environmental degradation equated to some 3.5 percent of the 2010 GDP or $230 billion.

In winter of 2013 Beijing was experiencing the worst environmental data on record. Levels of dangerous particles less than 2.5 micrometres across, known as PM2.5s, were 22 times what the World Health Organization considers safe. In response to the widespread public anger, authorities introduced emergency measures to thin traffic and shut down polluting industries. Rallies also erupted in May in the city of Kunming as thousands flooded the streets to protest against the planned production of a chemical at a refinery.

Problems related to pollution are also reaching China’s vast countryside, the Ministry of Environmental Protection acknowledged early June.

“With industrialisation, urbanisation and the modernisation of agriculture, the situation for the rural environment has become grim," the ministry said. Crucial aspects emanate from an “increase in pressure from mining pollution and severe pollution from the raising of livestock and poultry.”
I copied and pasted the whole thing because even though the story I'm looking at is the first several paragraphs, the rest of the article provides excellent background knowledge and context. No I could not stress that enough without bold, italics, and underline.

I've a feeling this'll be more open ended, so fire away! Happy discussing!

droomph June 20th, 2013 6:55 PM

I'm pretty sure if you smell the air for a day, much less your whole life, in the cities, you would also want to kill all the people who were responsible for that mess.

I swear it smelled like rotten eggs, farts, and baby powder in Beijing when I went there. In 2010, mind you.

ANARCHit3cht June 20th, 2013 7:07 PM

I have never been there, but I could imagine that it is pretty bad. That being said, I think death is a little really harsh. I could really get behind a big fine or imposing other sanctions on the offenders, especially with them being corporations and what not. If they lost a good chunk of their money, then they would probably consider doing what is right for the community... I mean, unless they really had all that much cash to blow.

I can't really say that I have much experience, I live in one of the places with the cleanest air, so it is not bad at all. Never being around pollution, however, has given me a lack of appreciation for this clean air that I enjoy.

Gyardosamped June 20th, 2013 7:41 PM

I'm glad that China is finally taking somewhat of a decent initiative towards trying to reduce the amount of emissions/pollution emanating through its region. I don't necessarily agree that violators should face execution for contributing to the pollution, but their government could increase the penalties they have now to, let's say, higher fines, (more) jail time, if they even have any of those penalties now. I've never been to China, but I've seen pictures and it looks really, really bad. I feel terrible for those who have to live through that each and every day because I have asthma myself, and being able to not have clean air to take in is one of the most terrible feelings. Hopefully the major industries in the country will respond positively towards all this new legislation, because money for them is obviously their biggest concern, and these companies put profits above the environment any chance they get. Let's hope all this legislation gets the country's air a bit cleaner for the sake of the people in China and for the sake of this lovely planet we live on.

TRIFORCE89 June 20th, 2013 8:10 PM

Will Chinese government leaders be executing themselves then? The country ended up where it is now because they willed it / allowed it.

Can't say I'd be supporting execution here, no. Stricter regulations and punishments, yes. Death, no. That's disturbing, to say the least.

Akiba June 20th, 2013 9:23 PM

Well, this is China's.. Er... "Law"...

I've lived in China for some time before, and I know that this doesn't mean too much.

This can be related to how China's Congressional Meetings always aspire greatly, but accomplish nothing.

I am comfortable with saying that the government is corrupt.

Keiran June 20th, 2013 9:48 PM

Now only if we could execute pollution offenders in America instead of fining them a measely sum! Seems a just punishment for causing cancer in thousands of people and killing our planet.

I guessed they realized fines weren't gonna stop multi-billion dollar industries?

Mana June 20th, 2013 11:24 PM

So... what are they actually going to execute people for.

'Polluting' is a pretty vague thing - are they going to kill flytippers? People who have BBQs? People with wood burning stoves?

:S How can you measure an individuals pollution, enough to put them to death?

Mr. X June 21st, 2013 2:34 AM

It's mainly focused on large-scale polluters, not the people who have the weekly barbecue.

China is going to take a lot of **** for this move, but honestly? It's about damn time someone took steps like this.

I say this mainly because the other punishments and suguested punishments - Fines and even harsher fines - don't work. Generally companies are going to have more then enough money to pay off these fines and not even feel the hit.

I've got a quote from a movie that would fit here, but I can't remember it. I'll rewatch the move (If I can find it) and add it in later. It's from Fire Down Below.

Mana June 21st, 2013 3:14 AM


Originally Posted by Mr. X (Post 7708873)
It's mainly focused on large-scale polluters, not the people who have the weekly barbecue.

What is large-scale pollution? Because, as far as I'm concerned, that is what companies do, not individual people - lots of people are accountable for in that case so who gets executed?

Which I why I gave the silly examples of 'ordinary' pollution. It's a silly, unrealistic, law that seems impossible to implement.

Kanzler June 21st, 2013 7:42 AM

I think it refers to companies, not individuals. And company heads at that. I know that it doesn't explicitly say that in the article, but we can apply a bit if critical thinking here and consider the context.


'Polluting' is a pretty vague thing - are they going to kill flytippers? People who have BBQs? People with wood burning stoves?
Please. Not everything in China is crazy just because it's China. China has environmental protection laws, except they are not very strongly enforced. As seen by this event, there is clearly room to do more policing. Presumably the law will punish those who excessively break it, like turning off chemical scrubbers for coal plants, dumping waste chemicals into the water supply, and so on.

This is a country where you get executed for drug trafficking, rape, kidnapping with extortion, and so on if the crime is serious enough. And I'd say there's significant public support for capital punishment. They've had capital punishment for those who severely violate business regulations, but they often commute the sentences of the business heads to life sentences while some of their underlings get the injection. I think it's fair for the heads to be paying with their lives if those beneath them have to do it.

Mr. X June 21st, 2013 8:17 AM

My only disagreement with this law is what they use for the death penalty - A real waste of, as morbid as it sounds, human resources. They have people dying everyday because they can't get a organ transplant - I say put them in a induced coma, harvest anything useful, and pull them from life support once everything useful is removed.

It's kinda morbid, and no public official would suguest something like this, but it's a much better option then just executing someone. My method gets the same end result, a dead person, but it ends up saving some people's life at the same time.

Edit - Actually, China does take organs from executed criminals. But they are trying to phase out this practice.

Most other countries condemned this practice though, crying consent consent consent. A load of crap imo - Religious expemptions aside, whats a dead person to do with his organs? Seriously though, they are tossed right out. Wasted. All the while people are dying because they can't get a kidney, a liver, a heart, or a whatever. I'd right out say that if your on the chopping block you shouldn't have any rights, but the crimes that get you put on the block vary a lot from nation to nation so it's hard for me to justify that broad of a statement.

Lance July 19th, 2013 11:25 AM

I understand that pollution in China is becoming a very big problem, - just look at the fog around Beijing - but executions are a bit extreme I think.

twocows July 19th, 2013 6:35 PM

Good. Corporate fat cats think they're above the law. At least someone has the guts to show them they're not. I think it should be life imprisonment, though. I don't support execution.

Esper July 20th, 2013 8:02 AM

I'm not for executions, and on the face of this it seems like a good thing, but I can't help but feel that there's something else going on. Like this is only happening because the government fears unrest from the people because of the terrible pollution in many places of the country, and not because they really care about the environment. But that's just my cynical view of the current government there. And, you know, if it actually leads to better air quality, water quality, etc. then that can only be good for everyone since China is so huge and has the potential for affecting the environment across the entire world.

And speaking of the entire world, I wonder if this would affect any of China's relationships with other countries. Like, will they care if there's terrible pollution at a factory they own in Africa or South America?

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