1300 Annecdotes Make it a Trend. Clean Up or Close Up

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 10:52

For those of you loyal readers (and RSS readers), you will remember my previous posts entitled Tianjin’s New BinHai Plan for Chemical Industry and Want to Invest in Suzhou? Evaluate Your Impact where I discussed how the degrading environmental conditions were changing the on-the-ground conditions for business in China.

That during my trips and negotiations, my clients were being pushed to submit their EVA ahead of meetings (Kunshan wouldn’t even take my calls once I said the word “chemical”), and leaders were openly admitting that while it was once okay to look the other way.. those days were gone

Gone are the days were one could simply show up, wave some money in front of an official, and have the EVA (Environmental Assessment) form overlooked. Gone were the days where a multinational could promise jobs and tax base to get a more favorable reading on an environmental reading.

So, when I saw the article In China, a green awakening on MSNBC, I knew I had to write a quick follow up to those posts. After all over 1300 factories in the Wuxi area have been shut down in the last 3 months.

1340 to be exact.

According to Mr. Liu of Wuxi’s Environmental Protection Bureau:

The blue-green algae gave us a warning, a shock

Now, I am not sure if any of those factories were foreign (I am sure if one was it would have been in the press), but no doubt some of those factories were serving the resident foreign factory community.. which impacts business.. but for me the most important part of this story is their quote of Elizabeth Economy of CFR when she says

“the commitment, the profile, the energy behind the state’s environmental protection efforts far exceeds anything we’ve seen in China’s history.

“It’s not about new ideas, but about enforcement. . . . What is changing are the incentives or disincentives.”

and I cannot agree more. In the last several months (as I indicated above), I have been speaking to many who are apart of this process, and they all are saying the same thing.

The game has changed. Clean up or Close up.

Shameless plug: for more on environmental coverage, I encourage you to go to Crossroads (my other blog) where we (There are several active writers) are covering where China and corporate responsibility meet.

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