China Beat Archive



Alex Pasternack

Date of this Version


Document Type



March 17, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright March 17, 2009 Alex Pasternack. Used by permission.


It was the recession that Chinese leaders partially credited for helping the countryreach its Five Year Plan pollution goals for the first time in 2008. Meanwhile, energy consumption has been on the decline (though it rose for the first time in three months in February), along with the demand for Chinese goods.

But to put people back to work and maintain its golden number of 8 percent growth, China will pour $586 billion into the economy. In the process, it may also pour a lot of concrete, a lot of coal into its engines, and a lot of smoke back into the air.

Much of the reason for China’s dirtier stimulus is clear: the country is still developing, and still depends largely on dirty industry and manufacturing for growth. It’s aiming to be more like developed countries, which rely more heavily on cleaner service sectors, like banking or retail. But on the way there, it’s still dirty. And China’s leaders don’t seem to be showing much interest in making that path — and its end result, for that matter — much cleaner right now.

A message released during the ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), said, according to Xinhua, that ”saving energy and protecting environment is a big government agenda, though keeping a ’steady and relatively fast’ economic growth is a paramount task amid the global economic crisis.”

That sounds like a pretty blunt dashing of the hopes of environmental groups like the old Beijing NGO Friends of Nature, which sent a letter to the NPC this weekurging a clean stimulus.