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China: “Strolling” for the Environment

Earlier this month, before an earthquake killed thousands, about 400 to 500 people in Chengdu, China took to the streets to protest the construction of a proposed petrochemical plant, calling their outing a “stroll” to get around applying for a permit to protest. The event was organized through cell phones, text messages and blogs, and mimics earlier events in Xiamen and Beijing. The New York Times had a story about environmental protests last week. Six people were arrested (Danwei provides more links).

Beijing-based lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan praised the “strolling” method of voicing opinions on his blog:

“散步”不是集会、游行、示威,“散步”是具有中國特色的维权方式,但愿有关部门能给市民一个表达意见的“散步”空间,更愿政府能够重视市民“散步”表达出来的意见。

“Stroll” is not an assembly or demonstration. It’s a unique way of practicing civil rights in China. I wish related government departments could allow the citizens a space for “strolling” and expressing their opinion, and more importantly, the government could respect citizens’ opinions expressed through the “strolls”.

China Digital Times has the full translation. They also report Liu's blog has encountered some censorship.

Many in southwestern China are reeling from Monday's earthquake. A new up-and-coming website called Fractor bills itself as a “simple, groundbreaking web application” that promises to connect well-meaning people with ways to help people affected by disasters world-wide.

Rich Brubaker on the blog Crossroads, which looks at corporate social responsibility in China, posts video links to the PBS series “Shifting Nature“, telling us about the casualties of lightning-speed economic growth in China. It has some pretty high-level interviews, including ones with Pan Yue, China's outspoken environmental leader with the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

And, lastly, a million and a half Chinese children have taken part in a painting contest, held by the United Nations Environment Programme. The painting by last year's grand prize winner, Charlie Sullivan from the UK, is below.

UNEP children's painting winner 2007

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