Positive news on China’s environment? Could it be? – China’s latest political and current affairs news


A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for June 23, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.



PBS Newshour says that “China is making significant headway in preventing toxic algal blooms, by decreasing a pollutant — phosphorus — in its lakes.” Since 2006, 34 laws and regulations intended to limit domestic and industrial wastewater discharges have been issued, and “upwards of $116 billion” has been invested in fighting water pollution. The result, according to a new study, is that phosphorus levels dropped 60 percent in 862 lakes across China that were surveyed from 2006 to 2014.


The China Daily says that there is currently “no specific law to lead the systematic and scientific prevention and control of soil pollution,” but a new draft law was submitted on June 22 at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The law stipulates:

  • Farmland polluters would receive fines of up to 2 million yuan ($293,000) for “discharging any sewage or other waste containing heavy metals or other pollutants on farmland.”
  • People or companies using manure or soil treatments that contain pollutants will also be fined.
  • In addition, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has begun to establish a soil pollution monitoring network, “using 20,000 devices covering 99 percent of counties and 88 percent of major grain-growing areas”.


The National Development and Reform Commission, a government body that has enormous influence over industrial development in the country, released an announcement (in Chinese) on June 21 that the launch of China’s national carbon trading market is set for this year as planned. The New York Times calls (paywall) the market “a high-visibility, high-stakes gamble” for president Xi Jinping, as “his record on the environment and market reforms…is mixed, and China’s carbon trading plan is not a sure bet to succeed.”


The Washington Post says: “China’s leadership is not looking to support collective goals of reducing greenhouse gases. Rather, China will redefine global climate leadership to pursue the government’s immediate goals of national economic development, control of energy infrastructure and global economic competitiveness of Chinese industry.”

That may not be a bad thing if it leads to cleaner water, soil, and air.