In November last year, Chinese Minister of Environment Protection Zhou Shengxian (周生賢) promised that all major future projects would undergo “social impact assessments.”
Such studies might help avoid protest, environmental lawyer Wang Canfa (王燦發) said, but ultimately, factories should be opened or shut based on written codes rather than public duress — which could unfairly punish companies in compliance.
“The key is whether or not they meet the requirements of the law,” said Wang, who runs the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, a legal aid center in Beijing. “This approach of promising to stop work and then restarting after people stop making a fuss, without giving the public any explanation or information — the biggest victim will be the government’s credibility.”
“The next time they say something, the people will not believe them,” Wang added.