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West should not judge China with tinted glasses

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/23 21:18:40

Beijing National Stadium Photo: IC

"Are Chinese people secluded from the world?" Deutsche Welle asked after a climate movement swept the world but incited no protests in China. An odd question by the German media outlet, reflecting the West's misunderstanding of China. 

Millions of climate activists in 156 countries and regions reportedly participated in the Fridays for Future street demonstrations on Friday, demanding the international society to take more actions to deal with global climate change.

However, not engaging in protests doesn't mean that Chinese people don't care or support climate protection. On the contrary, according to a 2017 survey issued by the China Center for Climate Change Communication, an institute focusing on climate, 94 percent of respondents supported China's implementation of the Paris Agreement and 96.8 percent supported the Chinese government to participate in international cooperation on climate change. The ratios are higher than those of almost all other countries. 

Such misunderstanding also shows that the logic of Westerners' mentality is flawed. Is occupying streets the only way for people to express their appeals? Can such demonstrations really solve environmental problems?

When people from the West encounter social problems, they first organize protests, through which they hope the problems could be solved. But the key to whether the problems can be solved and how the problems will be handled lies in how their governments pay attention to and respond to people's demands. In this respect, the Chinese government is at the forefront of the world. 

After people repeatedly complained about air pollution in Beijing several years ago, the Chinese government took immediate and effective measures to combat air pollution, and Beijing's air quality has greatly improved. Some 227 days were rated to have good air quality in 2017, compared to just 176 days in 2013. 

Also in 2017, the average concentration of fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta dropped by 39.6 percent, 34.3 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively, compared to the concentration in 2013. 

The Chinese private sector also actively contributes to the country's environmental protection. For example, the Ant Forest, a green initiative launched by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba, was awarded with UN Champions of the Earth on Thursday. Ant Forest has planted about 122 million trees in China, covering an area of 112,000 hectares, since its launch in August 2016. 

China's achievements in environmental protection originate from the country's very strong system, which determines how the Chinese leadership's attention to the issue is effectively turned into pragmatic actions. We don't think it is right for a government to take action only when there are demonstrations.

Some environmental demonstrations took place in China in the past few years. They didn't last long as people's appeals were properly met. The Chinese government provides various channels for people to submit their demands and suggestions, which are often quickly addressed. Having such an effective mechanism, people don't need to crowd into the streets to pressure the government. 

China's sound development has been a sign to Westerners not to judge China through tinted spectacles. China is not secluded from the world but develops in its own way to integrate with the world and even lead the world in some fields. 



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