The most serious problem with environmental protection in China lies in the lack of respect for laws and regulations, said Cyril Cassisa, a climate expert at the French Embassy in China, in a written interview with China.org.cn.
Last year, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection conducted plenty of special inspections of local air pollution control efforts in key areas, such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the Yangtze River Delta area. Despite intensified monitoring and inspection, it is still difficult to deter companies from illegally discharging pollutants.
China has issued a lot of polices and laws to deal with its environmental problems. "However, the implementation of and respect for them are very hard to put in place," Cassisa explained.
He pointed out that a strict and effective law enforcement system has to be set up in a step-by-step, long-lasting process. "Fortunately, the Chinese Government has now been aware of the importance of that," he said.
In March, Minister of Environmental Protection Chen Jining expressed his opinion of the country's status quo and the problems of environmental law enforcement, saying that environmental laws have been enforced too leniently, and breaking the law has become normal.
Chen stressed that China must reverse this trend. "Both companies and governments must obey the law, which is a basic requirement," he was quoted as saying.
China's determination to tighten environmental law enforcement became evident in its latest refusal of a plan for the construction of a hydropower station on a river.
According to Xinhua News Agency, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a document sent last month to the Three Gorges Corporation, the builder of the Xiaonanhai Dam, that companies could not plan or build any water-related projects on the Jinsha River, the upstream section of the Yangtze River.
The ministry explained in the document that the boundaries of a national-level nature reserve protecting rare and unique species of fish on the river have been adjusted twice over the past decade due to power station projects, negatively impacting the function of the nature reserve. Therefore, the ministry called for more efforts to strictly defend the ecological red line.
Cyril stressed that environmental watchdogs' latest actions have demonstrated the sincerity of the Chinese Government's quest to enforce and respect the law. "I believe China will solve its environmental problems in future," he said.
(China.org.cn April 14, 2015)