If necessity is the mother invention under normal circumstances, then transparency is the mother of all necessity in China.
It is something that we have seen over the years as crisis’s propel the media further,something that the recent Yale 360 article As China’s Pollution Toll Grows,Protesters and Media Push Back eludes to:
In recent months, protests over the severe illnesses caused by China’s heavy industries have resulted in a crackdown on polluters. Leading the charge has been the state-run media, which the central government is now using to gain control over corrupt local authorities and powerful commercial enterprises.
It is a process that started several years back following the 5.12 earthquake, was injected during the milk scandal, and with every new social media seems to gain in speed and frequency
However, and more importantly, today’s China.Org article Waste incineration firm reports on pollution levels highlights another trend that has been surfacing of late. The move of local government agencies to publish data in areas where there is a concern by public residents, concerns that result in push back:
A large screen was this week established outside the 800 million yuan ($117 million) Gao’antun incineration plant in east Beijing’s Chaoyang district to display the amount of toxins in the air. Dioxin, the major pollutant released from burning plastic and other garbage, was absent from the index.
The testing is carried out by the Environmental Engineering Group, which owns the plant and runs all waste treatment plants in Beijing. Emissions were this week all shown to be within safe limits.
The Gao’antun plant was launched in 2006, but its workload was reduced last year after complaints from locals about the smell. The government spent 1 million yuan trying to fix the problem last summer.
It is something that should be carefully monitored as Beijing looks to use this reporting as a means to reduce the tension surrounding incineration, and then draw some wider conclusions as to how effective the practice of improving transparency can help to develop a stronger sense of communication between the various stakeholders.