Shifang City Questions China’s EIA Mechanism
On July 4, the New York Times’ Chinese website published
a commentary, titled:
“The Shifang Protest Questions China’s
Environmental Impact Assessment Mechanism."
The article argues that though China has had rapid economic
growth in the past 30 years, it has come at high ecological costs.
The country has also seen substantial injustices
in social wealth distribution.
Beyond the nationwide smoggy skies,
polluted rivers and toxic food,
Shifang’s molybdenum copper project seems to have hit
upon the nerves of the Chinese civilians, said the article.
While even with the web censors’ removal of
the online postings,
the Shifang protest still topped the heated topics
on Sina’s Microblog on Tuesday.
According to China’s media, on July 3, the Shifang
authorities announced a halt to construction on this project.
However, that same day, the Shifang police issued a warning
notice stating that anyone who continues to protest will be “severely punished."
Local people have also been banned from using the internet,
SMS and other forms of communication to organize demonstrations.
The New York Times’ article commented that Shifang’s
official announcement hasn’t specified whether the project’s construction will be resumed.
An official hotline and mailbox were allegedly opened to
answer questions and help people to “correctly understand"the project.
This seems to be implication that the project’s construction
will go on in the near future, said the commentary.
Chinese Media Cry Out for The Shifang Incident
Renowned Beijing-based photographer, Chen Jie, said on
his Micro-blog: “As I know, a lot of journalists swiftly arrived on the scene in Shifang.
But the media outlets they work for will only serve
This is not due to their failure to explore the truth,
but rather due their being muzzled.
In the end, citizens, via the internet, concertedly finished
the reportage—which ended up being the quickest,
most detailed and accurate news report [on the issue].
Actually, many of these netizens were journalists,
who spoke out under pressure. “
On July 4, the China Youth Daily published a review article
titled, “Some Things, We Just Cannot Pretend to Ignore."
The article commented that proof of some hot topics
are often discussed on after another on the internet,
some bloggers even post photos, along with detailed
descriptions by participants and witnesses.
Yet, these news items go unreported by the traditional media.
Dongfang Daily and Nanfang Daily have reproduced
this view on their official Microblog blogs.
The official Microblog blog of Nfdsw.com said:"Today,
in Shifang, the SWAT police dared to beat women and children;
tomorrow, the SWAT police will dare use violence
against you and me in our living places.
Today, you keep silent; tomorrow, you and I may be
shot to death by the armed forces. We must condemn them.
The perpetrators must be brought to justice!
Someone must be liable for this vicious incident!"
The Economic Observer commented, “Shifang’s government
looks quite schizophrenic.
On one side, it used armed forces to disperse the protesters;
on the other, it claimed to heed public opinion and stopped the project.
Why did it yield on the core issue after having controlled
The authorities are also afraid of seeing the conflict intensify,
—driving the masses into a state of ‘not fearing death.’
Simply put, the government has no guarantee that
it won’t resort to violence."