I will be travelling for the next three weeks with only intermittent access to e-mails.
I will endeavor to keep the Newsletters in production, but apologies in advance for any disruption to service.
The article in the url below reports on an interesting story from last week’s Party Congress heralding the leadership transition in China:
“The cabinet of China has ordered that all major industrial projects must pass a ‘social risk assessment’ before they begin, a move aimed at curtailing the large and increasingly violent environmental protests of the last year, which forced the suspension or cancellation of chemical plants, coal-fired power plants and a giant copper smelter.”
The “social risk assessment” policy is aimed at minimizing public protest in response to government edicts. It is not clear from the announcement (or article), however, whether the “social” part of ‘social risk’ is intended to prevent damage to society (environmental degradation) or damage to the Party (reduced legitimacy):
“He did not provide a description of how social risk assessments would be conducted, but he indicated that they would involve looking at the likelihood that a project would set off a public backlash.”
It is interesting to think of a similar filter being applied by Western organizations (either governmental, nonprofit, or for-profit).
“‘No major projects can be launched without social risk evaluations,’ Zhou Shengxian, the environment minister, said at the news conference. ‘By doing so, I hope we can reduce the number of mass incidents in the future.’”
It is interesting and hopeful, however, that the announcement was made by the Environment Minister and framed in terms of environmental damage. The Chinese government has a track record of progressive work in this area:
“Mr. Zhou also noted that effective Sept. 1, all government agencies in China had been ordered to make public all environmental impact assessments by posting them on the Internet, with a description of what the government planned to do about the assessments.”
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‘Social Risk’ Test Ordered By China for Big Projects
By Keith Bradsher
November 13, 2012
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final