Open Sesame
Alibaba cracks the U.S. market with a massive IPO
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
UPDATED: September 25, 2014 NO. 40 OCTOBER 2, 2014
Is It Justifiable to Invest Millions for Primates?


A reservoir recently constructed in a nature reserve in Jiyuan, central China's Henan Province, has disrupted the means of transport for the local macaques, a group of small monkeys that are native to the region. They can no longer come and go freely between the mountains that line the reservoir due to the long, uninterrupted stream of water. In order to help them move around, the local government made a 5-million-yuan ($814,300) investment in two hanging bridges that will be strung between the two highest mountains along the reservoir. When the bridges are completed, visitors may be able to watch macaques crossing them.

This investment has sparked people's doubts, with some complaining that this project is a waste of money. However, local authorities have responded that the bridges are being built to make up for the damage the construction of the reservoir has caused to the macaques' natural and native environment. Commentators have weighed in on the subject, and excerpts of their opinions follow:

A laudable project

Xu Dafa (www.cnhubei.com): Before the decision was made to build the bridges, there had been a lot of discussion as to whether or not such structures were necessary. This was not a sudden decision. Within part of a nature reserve specifically created for the macaques, the addition of a reservoir interrupted the monkeys' normal lifestyle. Before that, there were four bridges between the mountains to help the monkeys move easily, and the monkeys were also able to travel to the other side by swimming across shallow rivers. Human beings destroyed the natural environment in which these monkeys live. It's therefore necessary to build a way for them to return to their original lifestyle.

Humans and animals are both citizens of the Earth, and the former is not the master of the latter. We cannot continue to regard ourselves as the owners of everything on the planet, doing whatever we like to the environment. We owe much to nature, and thus we should start to pay back our "debts."

When the Qinghai-Tibet Railway was built, in order not to interrupt Tibetan antelopes' normal migration, special lanes were designed for them alongside the railway. Now, it's encouraging to see hanging bridges being constructed in Henan. This can be regarded as a milestone in our efforts to protect nature.

When the bridges are completed, visitors may be able to watch macaques walk across them. Such an amazing sight will attract a lot of tourists and bring in a windfall revenue for the local government and people. Thus, the macaques will likely make a contribution to local economic development in their own way. In the long run, the 5-million-yuan investment will be more than matched in return.

Xia Xiongfei (www.cnhubei.com): Commentators have argued that in Henan Province, where children living in poverty-stricken areas can't even find paved roads to their schools and the land is often plagued by serious droughts, it's ridiculous to spend so much money building bridges for monkeys.

These doubts seem reasonable, but are not entirely correct. Indeed, access to schools must be improved as soon as possible, and more money needs to be injected into active drought prevention. However, it does not mean that the government should refrain from making any investments in other areas before these two problems are solved. Paving roads, fighting against droughts and building hanging bridges can happen at the same time.

Maintaining harmony between human beings and nature has been stressed for many years. While trying to create better lives for ourselves, we also need to pay attention to the lives of the 500-plus macaques living alongside the Qinhe River. Their channels of travel have been destroyed by the building of the reservoir; thus, we owe it to them to rectify this problem. If we turn a blind eye to this interruption, the monkeys may not suffer in the short term, but down the line, they will have to deal with inbreeding, all manner of unexpected diseases and even extinction. Therefore, the bridges are a justified expense.

The fact that they are being built is itself encouraging news, signaling that the local government in Jiyuan has begun to pay attention to environmental protection in the process of economic development. Instead of bemoaning this decision, Jiyuan should be regarded as a good example of balancing the natural with the developed.

Dong Bihui (Qianjiang Evening News): When taking the price of the bridges and the number of monkeys in the area into consideration, the project will end up costing about 10,000 yuan ($1,630) for each monkey. This is not such a big project after all. However, some are still complaining that human beings are not being offered the same sort of livelihood investments these monkeys are receiving.

The macaques will never know that the bridges were built particularly for them. But in a world dominated by human beings, the needs of animals are oftentimes neglected. Monkeys also need to socialize, just like humans. Their ability to do so shouldn't be altered by a decision they didn't make.

And yes, people living in remote areas are struggling with daily life because of a lack of basic infrastructure like bridges. But this example should by no means be used as a catch-all excuse to veto other similar projects. Following this logic, most human activities would also have to be stopped to account for injustices elsewhere.

Unaddressed questions

Fan Zijun (www.gmw.cn): The building of these two hanging bridges shows that in some places, environmental protection is highly valued. Doubts about the project, however, are not unreasonable. The contrast between those humans living without access across mountains and macaques who have been given this access can easily give rise to dissatisfaction and complaints. Another big problem is that the local government likely did not consult the local people about such a big investment.

At the end of the day, though, it helps to look at the issue more objectively. The new reservoir interrupted the local macaque population's ability to travel between the mountains. Is there any further evidence to show that this inconvenience will actively harm their livelihoods and affect the next generations? Will this reservoir pose a serious challenge to the monkeys' survival? If so, then the two hanging bridges are absolutely necessary. After all, macaques are protected rare species. If not, then the two bridges may have been an unnecessary expenditure. Given the limited resources, if the monkeys would not have been seriously affected, then resources should have first been invested in the human interest.

Top Story
-Credit Where Credit Is Due
-Mini-Stimulus, Maximum Effect
-Drawing the Line
-Protecting Our Heritage
-Alibaba IPO Looms
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved