Ecological Civilization: Is this the answer to fixing China’s environment? – Christine Loh


– Good evening and welcome to the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, my name is Wesley Whitaker, And I’m one of your Ath fellows this year, just two weeks ago the San Francisco Bay area, Suffered some of the worst air quality conditions on record, as a result of smoke from various fires burning in Napa, Solano and Sonoma County, with haze covering the iconic skyline, and doctors are urging residents to wear a certified Air purifying mask during prolonged outdoor exposure, many compared the city to Beijing which has some of the worst pollution in the world, While these conditions have subsided as the fires have become contained, air quality, specifically dangerous levels of pollutants, Remain a pressing problem for California, with six of the 10 most polluted metro areas in the US located in the state, In fact the inland empire air-quality district, That covers San Bernardino and Ontario, all just a short drive from campus, find it is unsafe or dangerous to have prolonged outdoor activity, For over one third of the year for the past three years. The recent experiences of residents in the Bay Area are a rude wakening that something taken so for granted can be so vital for our existence. Beyond the air that we breathe, our years of collective neglect for the environment have produced other looming threats, including severe drought, Soil erosion that threatens our ability to produce crops from fields that were once teeming, and polluted oceans containing billions of tons of plastic, how can we continue to provide adequate standards of life, in a way that prevents or slows down this kind of environmental damage, tonight our speaker, Christine Loh, will explain China’s approach, Called ecological civilization, and how it takes into account it’s a logical capacity and constraints when planning future development, after receiving a doctorate of law from the University of Hong Kong, Christine Loh works as commodities traders from 1980 to 1991, where rose to the rank of managing director and director of business development, she was then appointed to the Hong Kong legislative Council in 1992, where she won two re-election campaigns and served until the year 2000, later that year she co-founded Civic Exchange, a Hong Kong-based non-profit think tank whose error research focuses on air quality, nature conservation, and sustainable urban design and planning, Time magazine recognized Loh as the prime mover of Hong Kong’s environmental community in 2007, as part as their heroes of the environment series, and she was recognized as woman of the year of 2006 by Hong Kong Business Weekly, Loh stepped down as chief executive of Civic Exchange in 2012, upon her appointment as the undersecretary for the environment in the administration of Se Yi Yung, where she served until July of this year, she now serves as adjunct Professor at the Institute for the Environment, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Prof Loh’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Institute for International and Strategic Studies, as always I must remind you that audio and digital recording is strictly prohibited, please silence put away your devices at this time, please join me in welcoming Christine Loh to the Athenaeum. (applause) – Well thank you very much for inviting me to join you for dinner, I have not been to Claremont before, when I came today I had a small opportunity to walk around your campus, it’s really a very beautiful place, and one I will recommend to my daughter when she gets older, what I like to do today, and I’ve already been pumped by the students on questions about China’s environment and the politics of the environment in China, so I hope to be able to give you a perspective that you may not have heard before, I come from somebody who cares about the environment, who’s worked in the environment for a very long time, who has often in very angry about how we allow our environment to degrade, to an amazing extent, but my first job was actually a sort of of a girl Friday, in 1980 in Beijing, and I know many of you were not around yet in those days, but it was my first job, as I say I was girl Friday for an American company, that was the first to get a representative office license in Beijing, at the time, I was about the age of, I guess a fresh graduate from Claremont, and I knew nothing, I mean I knew something, but I didn’t really know much about the world, one skill that I had, was that I spoke relatively poor mandarin, and this company, I’m just going back to a time where I think it’s important for people to understand, it was in 1980, an American company, first company to get licensed to operate in Beijing, second thing is the couldn’t find anybody to go, because there were not that many people from outside China who spoke Mandarin and who were keen to go, my Mandarin was passable, because I had actually went back to school in Hong Kong, I wrote myself to learn Mandarin, I thought at the time, that if I knew some Chinese, some Mandarin, that I could follow China’s legal development, because I was actually a law graduate, and I thought as China was beginning to open up in 1979, that if I could follow China’s legal development that that would be a good career for me, so somehow I fell into this job, because they were looking for somebody who was willing to go to Beijing, help them to physically open the office, and be willing to work in Beijing, now I put my hand up and I thought I want to do that, because I can improve my Chinese, and I was going to do something that none of my contemporaries were doing, I was going to go to China, I was going to go to Beijing, so that’s where I started, and on my first morning there, I arrived at night, I was staying in a hotel because they were no appartments for me to stay in, I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know where the hotel was, the next morning I pulled open the curtains, and the site was the Forbidden City, and it was a clear, clear blue icy day, it was 3 January 1980, so from there, I started to learn about China, and in those early days, this was China opening up, China thinking about, industrialization, how to catch up, so I kind of feel I had a front seat just observing, I worked for this American company that was a commodities training company, they traded physical commodities, what that meant was if you were buying and selling steel, you actually delivered thousands of tons of this, so in those days, I also had industrial insight into China, because I was going to mines, I was going to factories, they were producing these things, the company that I work with we were sourcing raw materials, China’s development, so I went to these unusual places, definitely not tourist attractions, but thinking back again, I had this insight into what was happening in China, now as we go along from 1980 into the 1990s, we know kind of what happened, China made a very major policy shift, to reduce poverty, this was its front and center policy, what that meant was it had to have economic development, it had to grow, in order to advance, to educate its people, and to bring people out of abject poverty, now, on the industrialization end, we could see China becoming, a factory for the world, even today, you remember how many things you’re buying for yourself, for your families, that were made in China, so what China had done in her model for industrialization, was to be willing to do a lot of at first lower end production, so that it can produce all these things that the West needed, it fueled a kind of consumerism, it had to import a lot of raw materials, it had to use its own natural resources, in order to get on this track of industrialization, now we think about industrialization, well we know also what happened in terms of how it impacted on the environment, if you went back to the mid-19th-century, that was when the world started the industrial revolution, and I’m sure for those of you who studied the environment, you have seen the rise of carbon dioxide from the time of the Industrial Revolution, you can kind of see is the world industrialized what that meant for the environment, the global environment, if we were to take any particular country, let’s take the United States, When did the US pass its first clean air act? 1970. Now, that’s not that long ago in the United States, that’s not that long ago. A number of members of my family, have been here in Los Angeles for a very long time, and they talk about in the 70s growing up in LA, the terrible smog, and for people who are slightly older, if you grew up in London, they talk about the great smog of 1952, That killed a lot of people, in a matter of three or four days, so it wasn’t that long ago in the United States, that there was the first clean air act, in 1972 there was the United States clean water act, and I remember in Hong Kong, our clean air law, also came about sometime in the 1970s, after the US law, so when the US puts forward its law, I think other countries begin to see that in their own countries, that industrialization, rapid consumption, urbanization, these things were beginning to have an impact on our environment, and you remember the 1960s, that was the beginning of the rise of the environmental movement, then we fast forward, and we go to China, and you can use this as a frame to look at other countries that are industrializing, so for example India, we won’t go to India today, something we can look at in the future, so China, so 1980, China started her open door, she started to industrialize, she went into light industrial products, making consumer products, then of course to sustain that you need energy, you need to build up power plants, you need people to go to the cities, or close to the cities to actually make these things, so industrialization, urbanization, it kind of came together, and the first place China opened up for foreigners, people outside China to come and make things, was across the border from Hong Kong, the city where I grew up, in Guangdong Province, so just across the board from Hong Kong, there is an area called the Po River Delta, so it’s a Delta, so if you imagine Hong Kong in the Po River Delta, this is an area the size of, the size of the Bay Area, San Francisco and the Bay Area, so very small, it’s not a big area, physically very small, but this was the first thumping heart of China’s industrialization, the early part, and then gradually China opened up more, and people built up foreign businesses, foreigners could invest in other parts of China, so this is the context of the story, now what I want to share with you, is to discuss this tonight, I’m not going to go into a whole a lot of detail about the various serious environmental problems in China, I think you know that, it’s really bad, it was really bad, it still really bad, but I do want to talk about where do we think it’s going to go, what are the new ideas, are there any new ideas, ecological civilization is being presented as a new philosophy, a new development model, and I would like to go into that a little later, so I am going to go into the 19th party Congress, because I know this is a hot topic, and we’ll try to link those together, and to use one subject as an example, I want to talk about air quality, so you can see are improvements being made, and then finally, are we helpful. Now, this is an interesting map, it’s a very famous map, it was published in 2009 in the famous Journal, and just use this, just use this as a kind of proxy, to talk about where are the places in the world that are more polluted, so you can see, you can see China, the more red you have in this, PM 2.5, so let’s PM 2.5 as a proxy for pollution, so you can say if we we’re doing a similar map, if we we’re talking about water pollution, soil pollution, other types of problems, maybe this map is a kind of proxy for many other environmental problems, today, this was in 2009, and if we were to do it today, it probably would be similar, so just hold that thought. Now the other thing about pollution is, this was a statement that was finally made in 2013, by the World Health Organization, not only did they acknowledge that air pollution is clearly bad for you, but there are actually saying it’s carcinogenic, you kind of think didn’t we know that already, but it was only in 2013 that the number one most credible world health body actually said, actually said it, and just think going back, to this, obviously places where air pollution is high, people are going to be sicker, and in China today, the environment is a political issue, because if we really dig into public health, if you grow up, if you have a young child, a baby, if you grow up in a highly polluted environment, it actually affects your developmental process, so I can move the child, when the child is 10 years old let’s say, and, live in Claremont, sorry, some of the impact is already done, so it is really important to deal with pollution, and we can say the same thing about water pollution, that is why it is so important, and you will remember going back a number of years, in the last 10 years, but there are photographs after photographs from the international media about how bad air pollution is in China, so actually there are a number of long-term consequences, number one is, well you might be wheezing, asthmatic, you might be having some problems today, but even if you don’t, it doesn’t mean that in the longer term you’re unaffected, because if you are a child growing up in a highly polluted environment, your development will have been impacted, so as you grow up these things might catch up on you, if you are an elderly person, if you are a pregnant woman, these are generally the kind of folks who are more susceptible, so you can see when you’ve got in China very, very polluted environment. And many of you know the story about the American Embassy reporting on pollution, that was only a few years ago, at the time people talked about how China’s environmental data was either non-existent or unreliable, I remember that time, that was part of my time working on the environment, so just something to bear in mind, that we are talking about very serious problems. The other thing I want to talk about, is this level of pollution, the sort of things that we’re doing, we need a lot of energy, many of you are already concerned about climate change, so climate change, pollution, a few years ago a very important piece of research was done by a number of scientists, that talked about planetary boundaries, has anybody heard of this term, planetary boundaries? What it is is, scientifically they looked at the planet and said well what are the capacities of the planet, to kind of digest waste, so pollution, air pollution, water pollution, its waste, these are forms of waste, it’s not just for example the food that we haven’t finished, that’s a from of waste, and I guess if you haven’t thought about it already it is quite scary, everything that we do, including the really yucky things, it never leaves planet Earth, we can take all the unfinished food, we can take all the things in your wastebasket tonight, and we can put it in a bin and someone takes it to a landfill, takes it far away, but it actually never leaves planet Earth, and the water that we use that we pollute, it actually all comes back into planet Earth, but what planet Earth is able to do, is gradually clean it up, so maybe it’s a bit like our digestive system, kind of gradually digests things, but if you eat a lot, you are constipated, it overwhelms your systems, so the idea of planetary boundaries is that there are limits to our ecological capacity, to the Earth’s ecological capacity, to deal with pollution and waste, so this is very important to remember, because if we were looking at, our development, what we do, human activities, with an eye to what the planet can take, then we need to think quite differently, I’ll come back to this point in a moment, so knowing that things are really bad, what is China doing about this at the moment? What the first thing to do is that you have to acknowledge that we really have a problem, and it took some time, this concept, ecological civilization, it’s a term that first appeared in Chinese political literature, in 2007, and for those who can read Chinese, that is the four characters, the first two, reading from left to right, is ecological, and the second two characters mean civilization, now I think many of you have heard of the term sustainable development, sustainable development was a flexible term developed in 1992, after a very famous UN conference, giving a message to the world, so countries got together and the UN, they proposed this term sustainable development, to communicate that, when we develop, and the accept things are not going too well, that there is unsustainability, it means how can we develop in a way that is economically profitable, that is socially just, and environmentally sustainable, how can we do these three things, and then over the course of time, a lot of literature from all around the world, had developed about how humans and countries should develop in a sustainable manner, what China has done is, China also uses the concept of sustainable development, but in 2007, it’s come up with this new term, so like sustainable development, these terms are put forward, not in a fully developed from, so there is a lot of opportunity for definition, for thinking about implementation, how you’re actually going to do it, so China has now come up with its own term, so just remember ecological civilization, and if you were to go on the website, and look at ecological civilization, you will begin to see a little bit more literature about what this means. Now, this is a Chinese definition coming over time, five years later, you saw on television last night the Chinese Communist Party, nominating seven political, politburo members, so that’s at the National party’s congress, so this is the Chinese Communist Party, the party that rules China, they have a party congress every five years, so politically the party congresses in China are very important, and it happens every five years, so you could say that sometimes it looks like a set piece, but it’s a set piece that is important in the Chinese political world, five years after they put out the term ecological civilization, they started to discuss what it means. So we’ll just read this together, so they declared in 2012 they want ecological civilization to be a strategy, to be a development strategy, not just an environmental strategy, so this is the strategy, the Chinese policies should incorporate ecological civilization, into all aspects of economic, political, cultural, and social progress, so what they’re doing is, they’ve now inserted, ecology into achieving Economic, political, cultural and social goals, actions and activities relating to China’s geographical space, that means where China is, its industrial structure, its modes of production, and people’s living should all be conducive to preserving resources and protecting the environment, so as to create a sound working and living environment for the Chinese people and make contributions to global ecological safety, this is quite amazing, so this is since 2012, the strategy that the Communist Party and the government of China has been thinking about how to actually achieve it, and since 2012, and I was was working in Hong Kong, working with the Chinese government on issues that relate between Hong Kong and China, I could see, that these things were gradually being rolled out, now it requires actually a lot of things to be done, so you need good data, do we have good data in China, well increasingly so, actually already a few years ago, China started to report air pollution data online, every city has to do that, so getting the data out to people, very important, the one thing I also had a personal experience on, when I run my think tank and Civic exchange, 2001 and 2002, we put together a research project on environmental data between Hong Kong and our neighbor in Guangdong, in the Po River Delta, we we’re studying so there was Hong Kong institutions, there was Beijing, Chinese institutions, as well as American institutions, working together to collect the data, to analyze the data, and to put out the data, so this was one of those multi, party collaborations. In that time, we were working with, also the students, on the mainland to collect mainland data, where they were talking about how to use the project to train young scholars and young experts on how to collect data in a way where you know the sample integrity is good, because if you collect air quality samples, if the samples are poorly collected, you’re not gonna get the right answer, and in those days we had to send the samples to the United States, we sent them to Caltech, for verification, so this was in the early part of the 2000s, now today we don’t necessarily need to do that, today scholars, experts in China can do a pretty good job, if you were back and let’s say 2005, and you said we need to train a lot of people in China to do these things, and we’re just talking about sample integrity, boy if you think forward, and you say by 2015 we’ll be able to do a lot of this pretty well ourselves, in 2005 you would say well that’s 10 years away, that seems so far away, but actually these processes have been ongoing in China, so today young people in China they have no hesitation about going to universities, going to engineering schools, studying environment, energy, climate change, environment, biodiversity, these are areas where there is a future, there is a future because of these kinds of policies. Okay, well in 2013 the other thing that was significant in China, and I was already in the Hong Kong government, is that they declared war on pollution, in the space of two years the proposed action plans. And they demand that the whole of China had to act on them, the war on air pollution for example, nationally they declared 10 point plans, and national 10 point plan to clean up pollution, and then they demanded that each province and city, you have got to have your own plan, so the national plan is very broad on a macro basis, but in your area, in your city, you have got to have, the government have to have their own plan, so since 2013 there’s been tremendous improvement in air quality, even though air pollution is still very high in China, and I’ll come back to this point, and then after air pollution they had an action plan for water pollution, and then also the year after they had a plan about soil pollution, so they recognized that these three big areas required very major reform in China, okay now, on the 19th party Congress, this is just what happened in the last week, and so those of us who are, environmental policy wonks, I was waiting to see how important ecological civilization and the environment would be, in the new, party leadership that is coming forward, well it’s right up there, the environment was mentioned in the 15th minute of the work report of the general secretary, this is important, if you’re watching Chinese politics, how they say, what they say, when they say it, the emphasis is consistent, it’s all there, so we know until 2007 they came up with the concept, by 2012 the developed the concept a bit further, in 2017 this is it, and what does it mean when you talk about development, it means that when China continues to work on her plans for further development, industrial development, economical development, urban planning, and other areas, there are two goals they have to hit, the first one is social equity, the second one is environmental protection, so we now have a framework, to look at, what China is going to do and judge them by performance going forward, what I now want to share with you, is some maps, and I know this is kind of hard to look at, but what have they done, I always say there’s a lot of rhetoric, governments all around the world say we’re going to do this, that, and the other, but it’s important to call them on whether they’ve done it or not, I work on air quality, with the University of Science and Technology, we’ve been following, how China has performed on air quality, going back to 2002 on the top, and this is the one in 2016, as I said today, air quality is still really bad in China, but is it improving? And by what magnitude is improving? This can all be scientifically shown today. And I do take these maps and I do share them, and discuss them with my colleagues across the border in China. So in my area, in Hong Kong, in southern China, if you are looking at the map of China I’m kind of here, and if you look at this, now, I know we’re using different colors, so I know it’s blue, it doesn’t mean it’s blue sky, it just means that we’ve gone from a lot of very deep red throughout the country, to something less bad, and by the time we get down here, it’s a bit better. Even the bit better part in southern China, if you’re gonna go and live in China, and if you want an area, a big urban area where the air is less bad, it’s actually where we are in Hong Kong, in the southern part of Guangdong, actually you can trace the industrial history of the Po River Delta, and it’s remarkable that in the last three years, we’ve had tremendous improvement, this doesn’t come from just talk, this comes from hard work, and I know you hear from the newspaper sometimes they’ve shut down factories, well they have, they’re controlling vehicles, yes they have, it’s a combination of many many different things are being done, so I always say the data speaks for itself, is the data good, because it’s the data we’re also doing out of Hong Kong, this is from satellites and other ways of looking and checking on the data, I’ll just say one last thing, in Chinese politics, at the top, the very top, at the pinnacle, if you don’t declare something is very very important to them it gets lost, so it’s really important for the top leadership to say the environment is now critical, and it is critical, we believe it is, because it’s a political problem, people are getting sick, and when we talk about that child, that child growing up in China may be more sick than a child growing up here, because the developmental capacity of that child has already been compromised, so the more polluted a place is, the more it means that you have a contingent liability of public health bill coming, so it is vital to clean up wherever you are, the last thing I want to say is China’s rhetoric political rhetoric today, is about the Chinese dream, the Chinese dream of rejuvenation, this is a language, and what does that mean, for the Chinese that means I’m going to be somebody again, I’ve had a terrible time, I’m going to be somebody again, but nobody would recognize you are somebody if you can’t clean your own house, nobody is gonna think, China is wise, that you’ve really done it, if your environment remains in terrible condition, so this is why you also hear the Chinese leader talking about beautiful China, we’ve got to deal with poverty, we’ve got to clean up our own house, if we cannot do that, we cannot say China has risen. So I hope that’s interesting to you, and I’m open to questions thank you very much. (applause) – Thank you so much, we will now have time for questions, if you have a question please raise your hand and I will come and had you the mic. – [Audience Member] Hi, thank you for your talk, I was wondering what the Chinese response was to On the American flip-flop to the Paris report is? – To be honest I’m not sure I’m in a position to give you a full reply, from the point of view of China, if we listen to our leadership, what they talk about, they made a point in the 19th party Congress to also say that China will abide by international agreements, on climate change, so I think what you’re going to see is that China will keep to the Paris agreement, China has made some pledges, of reduction targets and so on, I think you’ll see those filled, they seem to take it very seriously,, if they put out a target and a timeline, that they are going to make it, I think you can be quite sure of that, because all of those figures are in national plans and provincial plans and so on, and China clearly sees that in areas like climate change, energy, renewable energy and technology, that it has a chance to make advances, so I think in international relations it clearly wants to use the environment and climate to also be making a mark. – [Audience Member] Hi, thank you for your talk, I was just wondering how this change in China’s production habits is going to change the structure of, Chinese expansionism, with one road– – One belt, one road yes. – [Audience Member] And then get as well as like picture of hegemonic production of goods for America. – Sorry? – [Audience Member] Cheap labor and cheap goods, how is that going to change? – This is an interesting point, I know a number of NGOs that work in the labor area, and they said to me, focusing on China, the told me seven years ago, that they felt Chinese policy was to enable the Chinese worker to earn more money over time, and it was not a, it was not a policy to keep pay low in China, And I thought that was a good idea, because if you continue to want to do one kind of production, and keep your labor costs down, you’re going to keep on making cheaper goods. So what I see today is that the Chinese worker has seen a gradual increase in pay, secondly is I also see, and this is where environmental protection comes in, that they are demanding, for example in southern China, were people make a lot of textiles and clothing, this was a very big industry across the border, from the late 1980s onwards, today, yes people are still making clothes, but the requirement of water quality and so on, and other environment standards are much higher, secondly is, that the technology is really going into how do you make the fabric, for example we have a research organization in Hong Kong, that is now patenting, using coffee waste, so when you go into Starbucks and get your coffee, there’s a lot of waste every day, is to use that to make a fabric, and the fabric, I had one of the samples in my office, and I like to show people, you don’t need to wash, it’s also a self-cleaning fabric, so it’s nicely designed, it’s pretty cool, that’s the sort of thing they want to go into. – [Audience Member] Hi, thank you so much for your talk, I was really interesting by the clip you had at the end about, China viewing it as other countries, how can they view us as wise or respect us if we can’t clean up your own house, and I was wondering whether you thought China in particular more than other countries is motivated by this search for validation or competition with other countries, and its environmental endeavors, or whether they want to do it without considering what other countries are viewing them as. – In my discussion on for example climate change, what I see is that first of all, are we seeing the Chinese doing a lot of their own research, what impact will climate change have on China, the answer is yes, China has done a lot of its own original research to understand the problem, secondly, they have said repeatedly on the international stage, they are doing this because China needs to do it, because the impact that climate change is having on China is enormous, so there are two aspects to this, the first aspect is that we have all got to mitigate, we have all got to reduce carbon as soon as can, so the second thing is that climate change is already with us, for example in Hong Kong in southern China, We’ve done a lot of scientific research, Looking at what are the impacts on the ground for us, we know for example, we have hurricanes, we call hurricanes typhoons, So it’s been very interesting for me this summer to look at the Hurricanes that you have had in the United States, to see that what we can learn, and in fact I’m working with the Institute of science technology to see how next year we can put on a major conference, where will be will invite representatives from the United States to talk about the experience from this year, and also representatives from South Asia, because while the news around the world has been about Harvey and Maria, actually terrible things have also been happening in India and Nepal and Bangladesh, so the fact is certain types of problems are hitting many different parts of the world, if you are in the hurricane zone, that’s you and me, the United States and China, are our cities and regions able to deal with them, what is the kind of infrastructure and planning reform we are all going to need, how can we learn from each other, otherwise we are going to have landslides, we’re going to floods, we’re going to have all kinds of horrible problems, so we are interested to study for example Harvey, what is it that a city in Texas will have to do going forward, what have we done, we have done quite a lot in Hong Kong, we are in a typhoon zone, and we live in tall buildings, we live in massive buildings, I think you’re from Hong Kong, you know, typhoons, when we have a hurricane we’re ready, if we were not ready, the city just wouldn’t work, and being in government in the last five years, I asked how have we dealt with flood control, cos I could see we were not flooding in, and Hong Kong, but we were flooding around the neighborhood, well we invested in the last 20 years HK$26 billion, divided by eight roughly, we invested billions of dollars in one city to deal with flood control, so that’s what other cities have to do, and we haven’t finished with what we needed to do yet, so it’s a massive massive exercise, for many many parts of the world, so China is concerned first of all because of itself, nobody is going to do it for you, you’ve got to do it for yourself, and if you have something to share because you have some real experience of something, share it, share it with others. – [Audience Member] Thank you for your talk, my question is about this documentary that came out a couple of years ago called Under the Dome, so I believe it was a Chinese woman, she made a documentary about pollution in China, because she lost her infant daughter to a tumor, that she claimed was caused by air pollution, and I believe the documentary was taken off-line several days after the release, and correct me if I’m wrong it was due to censorship by the government, so I was wondering how these documentaries and grassroots movements, fit in with the government policies, and whether or not that government action in censoring this film contradicts their ecological civilization political approach. – That’s a really good question, we watched under the Dome in Hong Kong, and we could see that within four days two hundred million people in China had watched it, and it really resonated, it really resonated with people, also during that time, they had to shutdown airports and trains, because pollution was so bad, now this was just a few years ago, this was not a very long time ago, and there was debate among some of us as to how that, how Under the Dome was shown at all, because if you happen to watch that go and watch it again, you will see some very significant people she interviewed, quite a number of them were people I knew personally, these were very very well-known scholars and others, in China in air pollution, I mean you know all these people, you can name, so and so, so one of the takes is actually, under the Dome couldn’t have been shown at all, if there was some kind of official condoning, secondly, I don’t know why they have to take it off, maybe four days to hundred million people was too much for them, I don’t know, but in any case, the point was made, and following that in 2013, I think it was in 2013 right, and shortly after that in fact the 10 national air pollution measures were put out, so I do see, under the Dome, it really hit it at the right time for the general public, but as I said, we need to follow, the government says all these things, I’m going to do that and do that, then you have to check from year to year, have they done it, what have they done, and how can we encourage them, how can we encourage them to do more, because the problem is still very severe. Yes I think you had a question. – [Audience Member] Thank you for the talk, it is argued that some regional governments in China are fabricating the data, so if you take several pictures of the polluted area, some people would say that the data may be inconsistent, so I’m wondering how you would comment on the data from the government, how is that different from the data that you are provided? – Faking of data was a serious problem, when we look at historical data, even in the Po River Delta, there are some data that quite don’t make sense, but in any case what we wanted to know are we moving in the right direction, and how can China put in place a system, where first of all they do good measurements, second of all is they have supervisors to make sure that you’re not faking the data, and then thirdly you need the ability to analyze the data to decide what you’re going to do next, so what you see is that in China over time they are building up the core of regulators and enforcers, and I can’t quite remember what the numbers are, In China today released data like how many regulators they have, and the fact that they are prosecuting people, is their no faking at all, I can’t say that, but as a whole will you trust Chinese data, that pollution data we can trust, we can trust, and because technically things are more robust, and people are actually much more competent, the scientists are actually much more competent, it’s much harder to get away with it today, and the other thing is your boss is looking at the data, this is the thing that really scares people, today if you are a senior party official, or you’re a senior government official, your promotion is no longer tied to just your economic targets, you have to deliver on meeting your environmental targets, so if you are somewhere in the system and you’re thinking of faking things, so you can get it past your boss, you know your boss is looking at the stuff online. – [Audience Member] Hello, thank you for your talk, so developmentally China has gotten to the point where they started to export polluting manufacturing, miseries of steel and paper to other poorer developing nations, also known as pollution havens, so you’ve talked a lot about this ecological civilization, and I was wondering to what degree China has a global responsibility, of promoting this image while also, carrying out actions that pollute countries abroad, and how they are able to reconcile this politically? – They have begun to, acknowledge, some global responsibility, so we can go back to looking at how, China is framing ecological civilization, that it does include making contribution to the global ecological safety in its international relations, in its development project overseas, is ecological civilization fully integrated in yet, I think not, how this technological civilization, as China goes out of China to invest in projects and so on, I think this is something we’re going to have to wait and see, and also potentially a very important area. But this is also very important, for people in China to continue to articulate that there is global ecological responsibility, So for example another major area for those of you who were doing economics and finance, a major discussion in china is green finance, I don’t know if you’re aware until 2015, as part of this last five years, the People’s Bank of China, which is the central bank in China, they came up with the very important influential document on green finance, it talked about China not, what we call the brown to green transition, China acknowledges, and this is that the central bank level, but China does not have enough money, to do all the things that it needs to do, to deal with the environment, and it says explicitly, and it thinks it has somewhere between 10 and 15% of the trillions of dollars that they are going to need, just in the next five years, so it said that it has to be able to raise money from the private sector, both in China and outside China, to deal with this transformation, and then it list out 14 things that it’s got to do, to transform financial services so that it can go and raise money worldwide, so this is again a new area, one of the things in this 14 areas is, it acknowledges that as China develops, a China infrastructure bank, which is the development bank, and as it works on projects outside China, that those projects should have some kind of environmental screening, now how it is going to do it going forward, we have to wait and see, but that’s also very encouraging, for those of you who are in finance and economics, the People’s Bank of China green finance White Paper, is worth a look at. – [Audience Member] Hello, hi, thank you very much, as a person who just come from Beijing, I lived there for 10 years of my life, I want to raise some concerns about how young people like me, Young people like me are attitude towards the government, especially aspects about how the equivalent of Facebook, and Twitter, in China we have Wechat, recently a lot of sensitive articles, are being reported, and are being put down, so a lot of people have been, we have followed many experts, we follow grassroots movements and their articles are gone as soon as they put them on, and also a lot of documents, documentaries, videos, we have no access to that, let alone we have a great firewall to access Google and YouTube, I am very glad to hear that the government is making an effort, but as high school students and now college students, I’m really concerned about how can China’s government, how can China’s government meet the needs of people, and be monitored by the people, if we don’t really have the freedom of speech, and if young people are not engaged, freely in this conversation? – Well that’s a very important question, and I don’t have a quick smart answer for you, the reason is for us living in Hong Kong, we are very conscious that if you’re in Hong Kong, which is a part of China, you can access anything that you want, and we understand that when you cross the border that situation changes, for those of us who are used to a free environment, the context in China, is not very attractive, on a political end, what Chinese leaders have to do to deal with those issues, I don’t claim to know what to do, it’s very easy to say they copy the Western environment, and actually if you look at the 19th party Congress, they spent a lot of time trying to discuss why they can’t go down that road, but I think what you’re talking about his, is there some space where you can have access to information and more freedom of expression, I think this is probably one of the major challenges for China going forward with its own people, I think that’s number one, number two is, this is also one of the areas where China’s rise is going to be judged by the international community. As I said, I don’t have any quick and easy answers as to how to do that. But I hope young people don’t lose interest in politics, whether you are here in the United States, or whether in China or elsewhere, in a way whatever political process you have, you are relying on your political leaders to do right by you, and if people don’t want to go into that process, and going into that process could be very unattractive, in different countries, so one of the things that is difficult, even in a city like Hong Kong, you have no personal life, and whatever you do, whatever you’ve done in the past, and your families, they are open for discussion, by others. So even just on that simple thing alone, it put a lot of people off going to politics, and I spent a long time whenever I’ve talked to young people, to say do not abandon the public sector, because that’s where we expect a lot of things to be done in the public interest, so when China it’s hard maybe, but how do we define this China, you see in China, they talk about, Interparty reform, as you know some systems, some Asian systems believe that reform is going to come from within, you’ve got to build up the competence, you got to clean up corruption within the system, but outside you don’t knock the system, so that’s one line of thinking, and another line is we should be able to say whatever we want, we should organize and so one, some different styles of thinking, China and the US perhaps represent two very different systems, and I think when you’re a student, there are probably two of the best systems for you to think about, and think about systems, what you think, and what you might want to do, and wherever you are, whichever country you may end up working in, what is that public dimension of your lives that you will offer for the public interest, not everybody is going to be a politician, not everybody’s gonna be working in the public sector, but as a citizen what is it we can do, to improve the public interest, I think that’s really important going forward. – [Audience Member] Hello, thank you for your work, we all need the environment matter what country we’re in, I was interested when you spoke about the government and how things like this, and ecological civilization being promoted at a government level trickles down, could you speak a little bit more about local level policies, or specific events, or any kind of efforts that have happened at the grassroots level, by the community level, that have been affected by the government? – I think it’s important, Under the Dome, Under the Dome had a tremendous impact, it was watched in four days by over 200 million people, there are also NGOs in China, that have been pushing for data transparency, so even if you just take Chinese government data, and they do release a lot of data, and today you can put it online in China, so this is a Chinese NGO, taking Chinese government data, from different cities, provinces, putting up it up there, and you can organize today, in a way that communicates what that means, that’s very powerful, I think that was the start in China of releasing data, online data, and the Chinese government went along with it, because it also recognized that even the powerful Chinese Communist Party cannot do everything, and if you want to move certain things forward, you do need the people support. The thing about the environment, nobody is going to argue with you ideological that pollution is a good thing, no one is going to justify that, so, on the environment I do personally think this is a very good idea, this is a very good area for rigorous government to government talks, US China, if you want to choose an area to really have good dialogue, well the environment is a pretty good one. NGOs, environmental NGOs have had a bit more space, that perhaps other kinds of NGOs, when pushing for data transparency, using research perhaps that has been done at the universities about public health so on, these are areas of potential opportunity. – [Audience Member] Thank you for your talk today, I was raised in Shanghai, I can say it’s absolutely one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world, sometimes the air pollution is just so bad that I couldn’t go out without wearing a mask, and my question is, although we are aware that somehow nowadays the leaders of Chinese political system, are embracing this idea that we need to protect the environment, and we need to put this at a very important place, but how long do you think it would take for Chinese citizens to really embrace this idea that environmental protection is now pretty much of the same importance with economic development, and how long do you think they will really achieve this national consensus that it’s an important thing, it’s something that is trivial and not important? – I think you’ve asked a very important question of how people are, because in Hong Kong, I’ll share a story with you, I was banging on the table when I was a member of the legislature, in the mid-1990s, To say air pollution is really deteriorating, and part of the reason is the Po River Delta had become really industrialized, and there’s just a lot more air emissions, so it’s Hong Kong and the whole region was much more polluted, and it took people actually quite a number of years to accept, but the air pollution was getting worse, I think in China today it is so bad in times, there is no hesitation that it’s really bad, Now your question is, when will Chinese citizens think the environment is important enough, but aren’t they now today? Now, you might be saying, maybe different things may be air pollution, we can all see it, we’ll stop airplanes and airports, et cetera, that’s clearly bad for economic and development, but what about things you can’t see, so I’m just trying to ask, do you think it’s important to the Chinese citizens, from the government’s point of view its assessment is, the environment is really bad and is a political issue, it’s not just an environmental issue, it’s become a political issue that you cannot hide from, so do you think Chinese people don’t care enough still? – [Audience Member] People all see it, because it’s happening, and it’s influencing them a lot, but my question was how long do you really think they will really take on this lifestyle, that’s more like their really environmentally friendly and they would care more about recycling, to drive cars less often, and to use public transportation, how long do you think before that kind of lifestyle change with happen to the majority of Chinese citizens? – Well I actually don’t know what the answer is of course, we can stand here and have a completely depressing story, welcome to the United States you say, How many of you are recycling? How many of you are consuming less? How many of you are counting your carbon footprint? I don’t know, the issue is I think is where that transformation comes from, now in the United States if we were having a discussion about United States, how do you think that change might be coming, then you can switch to another country, and ask how do we think that might come in China, so you can think things are much worse in China, so we have a bigger stake to do more, and we have a government that is front and center today telling us that we need to clean up, otherwise China is going to be nobody, okay, they’re putting in systems, recycling and all that, I don’t know when you’re going to back to Shanghai next time, I think over the course of the next few years, you’re going to see a lot more of that, I can see what the government is trying to do, even in little Hong Kong, we’re very upset in the government on our own inability to do better on waste, so were pilling money in, persuading people that in the future you are going to pay to throw away, and we’ll see if we get the legislation passed, so there’s a lot of challenges that we all have to do, but in China at least, China being a more authoritarian top-down political system, if you haven’t got the leaders telling you we’re going to do this, and we are going to pound money and manpower into doing it, it’s not going to get done. How long it will take the Chinese people to get into it, I can’t say at the moment. – [Audience Member] Hi, thank you so much for coming out and giving such a wonderful and informative talk, my question is, as you mentioned, wages increase in China becomes more environmentally aware, and implements these costly policies, do you think this will give rise to a new environmentally polluted country, that will often even cheaper labor, and experiences fast industrial growth? – You mean another country? – [Audience Member] Yes, this pollution becomes essentially displaced into a different area. – Well, that may be possible, and not privy to all that the development plans of different countries, one of the things that all of us worry about is well, let’s just move off somewhere else, we are beginning to see, well we have been seeing manufacturing moving out of China and going into other countries in south-east Asia, yes we can see that, well I think we do need a global discussion about some of these things, but we can at least say it’s China’s fault, what we want to do is have a global discussion about responsibility. – [Audience Member] Hi, thank you for your talk, you mentioned that social equity is one of the most important Pillars of China’s environmental development policy, I was wondering if China is seeing similar social problems that the US sees, which is lower income households being pushed into more polluted areas, or having jobs that are more exposed to pollution, or if they have different problems in China, and I was wondering what policies have been implemented to deal with those problems. – I’m not very knowledgeable about the movement of people from one area to the next area, and what are all the policies, but the central policy for China has been to reduce poverty, I think there is no argument that China has really done that amazing job and lifting some hundred million people out of poverty, this was their policy in 1979, this was their goal, and by and large they think by 2002 they will have reached that goal, and by 2035, actually it’s quite good for you to read the party congress timeline, so they think they will continue, they don’t in a way foresee China developing in the same pathway as high-energy, high consumption, they say that for the Chinese, what is the kind of lifestyle they think the Chinese people might aspire to, they call it a kind of middle-class status, and they’re comparing that with perhaps the lifestyle in Hong Kong and in Singapore, they’re looking at those areas, and saying we’ll perhaps reach that kind of status, and they think they can get there by about, 2020, they think they’ll get there in a few years, but they haven’t cleaned up the environment, the environment is still bad, so that’s why that is one of the key focus, and they talk about rebalancing development, to rebalance development, let me just emphasize this point, if we look back, I think it’s very hard to criticize the Chinese government for lifting hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty, they have done that, and are gonna clean up the environment, so that’s good going forward, I don’t know how many governments in the world are actually having this as their driving policy, my driving policy is to lift people out of poverty, people say that, but with China what you can do it you can now look back 30 years, and say well have you done it? I think this is where they feel a lot of pride, for all the faults that China has, this is an area they feel very proud of. And I think it’s time for us actually, including us in Hong Kong, to ask how did they do it? How did they actually do it, when so many other places haven’t done it? – [Announcer] Unfortunately that is all the time we have tonight, please join me once again in thinking Speaker Christine Loh. (applause) – Thank you, thank you, thank you.