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China Earth Government News

China Using 'State Secrets' Label To Hide Pollution 149

Posted by timothy
from the where-sunshine-laws-don't-shine dept.
eldavojohn writes "More problems have surfaced as people attempt to bring soil pollution problems to light in China. From the article: 'When Pan sued the Hebei Department of Environmental Protection in 2011, he was given access to the environmental impact assessment that the environment ministry claimed it had done in the village. Pan discovered that the assessment, carried out by the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, had names of people who had left the village two decades previously and even a person who had been dead for two years — all "expressing favor" for the project. Pan surveyed 100 people in his village, showing them the purported environmental impact study. The majority of them gave him written statements that declared: "I've never seen this form," according to documents seen by Reuters.' Reuters has also discovered that China uses 'state secrets' labels to hide environmental studies and pollution numbers as well as using strong arm tactics to silence residents attempting to do their own studies."
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China Using 'State Secrets' Label To Hide Pollution

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  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:28PM (#43131415) Journal

    Gee, welcome to the club.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The US will be suing for patent infringement in 3 .. 2 .. 1 ...

    • "Gee, welcome to the club."

      Yes, exactly. Our own government has used the "state secrets" lie to cover much of its own misdoings... why should we be surprised -- much less alarmed -- that China would be doing the same thing?

      Hey, fellow Americans! Yes, our country (and especially government) can use a lot of improvement. Let's not be hypocrites, okay?

      • Hey, fellow Americans! Yes, our country (and especially government) can use a lot of improvement.

        People on slashdot *love* pointing out flaws in America, sometimes to the point of ridiculous extreme. In fact residents of $foocountry generally seel to love pointing out flaws in $foocountry in general. It's one of the advantages of free speech that many of us enjoy.

        Just because my country is prefect, does not make it hypocritical to point out flaws in other countries.

        • My point was that it is hypocritical for someone to be berating the flaws of other countries (as opposed to just pointing them out), when their own country has the very same flaws. Unless of course they berate their own country, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    When haven't western governments labeled reports and studies as secret to avoid embarassing or otherwise harmful information to reach the public

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When haven't western governments labeled reports and studies as secret to avoid embarassing or otherwise harmful information to reach the public

      Aside from a few military things, there is almost no harmful information ever. But there is information that makes egotistical politicians look bad.

      If there really is a literal Hell, it is stuffed full of politicians, PR people, marketers, and the jack-booted thugs that work for the politicians.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:29PM (#43131423)

    Come on, the issue here isn't abuse of a state secrets process.

    The issue is the Chinese government (national level) is not based upon any principles of openness. They hide anything and everything that might threaten their place in power. The only time it comes out is when trying to keep it secret would hurt even more (i.e when a coverup is exposed).

    • In the long term, the trend of hiding things that threaten their power will likely be a threat to the Party's power.
      • In other news the sky is blue, communusm is oppressive, and both the US & PRC governments don't like bad press. Nothing to see here.
        • by khallow (566160)

          nd both the US & PRC governments don't like bad press

          In other news, once again Slashdotters instinctively drag the US into a discussion of China. It's like a really big province of China, right?

    • They hide anything and everything that might threaten their place in power.

      And this is distinctive from America how? In America, the State Secrets Doctrine has its roots in a wrongful death suit by the widows of some RCA engineers who were working for the US Air Force when they died in a plane crash in 1948. During discovery, the widows sought the accident report. The Air Force said that it contained information vital to national security and would not turn it over. Eventually, the case got to the Supreme Court, and without actually looking at the document, ruled that it could be kept secret. 40 some years later, it was declassified. It contained nothing in it beyond what was publicly known about the project, but it also revealed that the Air Force had negligently failed to install manufacturer recommended heat shields in the engines, among other issues with the plane, and that the engines caught fire leading to the crash.

      http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/383/origin-story?act=2#play [thisamericanlife.org]

      So you tell me, is our State Secrets doctrine, the one that Obama has used to prevent people from suing for unlawful detention, unlawful torture, unlawful wiretapping, and unlawful execution, based in anything but an attempt to avoid embarrassment and liability? How is it that we are morally superior to the Chinese government on this issue?

      Examples:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/us/10torture.html?_r=0 [nytimes.com]
      http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2009/10/obama-administration-invokes-state-secrets-privilegeagain/ [go.com]
      http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/0811/Obama_admin_asserts_state_secrets_privilege_to_dismiss_Muslims_suit.html [politico.com]
      http://www.salon.com/2010/09/25/secrecy_7/ [salon.com]

      • And this is distinctive from America how?

        Let's assume for a moment that it's exactly the same as America. What do we have then? We have two problems instead of one. It means the world is worse than it could be. It means now China AND America need to be cleaned up. Either way, China still has problems.

        The surprising thing about this story is how much information this guy was actually able to get.

        • I agree with you that China should clean up its act. But what bugged me was the parent poster's seeming attitude that China was different somehow. I should have quoted the comment more fully:

          The issue is the Chinese government (national level) is not based upon any principles of openness. They hide anything and everything that might threaten their place in power. The only time it comes out is when trying to keep it secret would hurt even more (i.e when a coverup is exposed).

          I would have no issue with the comment if it read "The issue with government in general" -- or "The issue is the Chinese government (national level), like that of most, is not based ..."

          It strikes me as hypocritical to suggest that China has some distinctive secrecy evil that one's own government steadfastly avoids (specifically, that secrecy is usually about protection from embarrassment, liability, or corruption/special industry favors). It's like a crack head denigrating a heroin addict as a dope fiend. Maybe I read too much into it, but that was my impression.

          • by khallow (566160)
            I wouldn't call it "hypocritical" to suggest that China has some distinctive "secrecy evil". It does after all have that along with every other such authoritarian government. I also find it interesting how some people seem more concerned about hypocrisy than about genuine evil. I didn't know successful evil was about lowering expectations.
            • by anagama (611277)

              Again, not my point. I'm concerned with hypocrisy because it shines a light on the evils we need to correct in our own house. Hypocrisy is a tool helpful in illuminating those problems, but is definitely not a tool to excuse them.

              • by khallow (566160)

                I'm concerned with hypocrisy

                I'm not. Hypocrisy gives us a means for correcting bad behavior. The subject may not care if its behavior is evil or incompetent, but it does care if such hypocritical behavior is revealed. The relative transparency of the US to hypocritical actions is something where the US is superior to China FWIW.

      • by khallow (566160)

        And this is distinctive from America how?

        Why ask this question. Not everyone in the world resides in the US or China.

      • by dissy (172727)

        Pretty easy questions to answer.

        No one here at all, including the person your "replied" to, claimed the US was doing any better. The point is about China. Way to go off topic.

        Second, I assume by your complete refusal to address the parent posters concerns, or the topic at hand, that you are giving China a free pass here?

        Why do you feel it's wrong for the USA to do this, but is OK for literally all other countries to do so?

      • You're quoting American media and website to support your points, good luck finding similar information on China in Chinese media. If you even try to publish these stuff on Chinese media, you risk being sent to labor camps.

        No matter how you try to drag the United States down to China's level, it just won't work, democracy is not at the same level at dictatorship, no matter how corrupt it is.
    • The issue is the Chinese government (national level) is not based upon any principles of openness. They hide anything and everything that might threaten their place in power. The only time it comes out is when trying to keep it secret would hurt even more (i.e when a coverup is exposed).

      Yeah, and you'd think they'd be honest enough to simply say "None of your business". That's the interesting thing - The general thought is that the chinese government does not usually go out of it's way to actively deceive citizens, it just denies.

    • The issue is the Chinese government (national level) is not based upon any principles of openness.

      You can replace the word "Chinese" with "American", "British", or any other national government without changing the message, the message would still be true.

      I was almost laughing when I read the summary, as its tone was derogatory against the Chinese government (and rightfully so), but we have the exact same problems in our own countries.

      • by dryeo (100693)

        Actually it is worse in that many, if not all, of the Western governments as many are actually elected on platforms of openness and then once elected they're worse then the preceding government. As far as I know, the Chinese government did not become the government by promising openness whereas my government did run on a platform of openness.

    • come on,

      it's obvious why the report was what it was. the guys who did it had skimmed through university by cheating and making up reports from made up facts.
      so.. when they get to work, what do you expect of them? that they travel 20 hours in a stinky train to the site to do the study? no fucking way!

    • by shoemilk (1008173)
      I'm surprised they didn't try to blame it on Japan again [chinadailymail.com].
    • by guruevi (827432)

      Are you talking about China or the US?

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:32PM (#43131439) Homepage

    I can't imagine living in REDACTED country where REDACTED was allowed to REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED. You'd think in the US, the REDACTED of Information Act would REDACTED this sort of thing but instead we find REDACTED REDACTED.

  • It's sad, but burying these sorts of reports rather than responding to them with higher pollution standards is their loss. And, when it comes to air pollution, ours as well.
  • up next high speed rail issues and crashes

  • by arielCo (995647)

    At first I was surprised that they even cared about public opinion at all. Then I remembered that this is SE Asia, where the importance of "saving face" is taught along with potty training. Remember the 1996 rocket crash in China [cnn.com]? A small village was razed, they detained journalists for hours, and days later Xinhua only admitted to six deaths, blaming failure on a "sudden gust of wind". Then you have the tragically comical DPRK.

  • by kilodelta (843627) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:00PM (#43131621) Homepage
    Until China starts experiencing a massive die off due to the pollution. Eventually they'll probably wake up to the fact and require manufacturing to install preventive measure. By that point manufacturing in China will be as expensive as it is in the United States. I wonder what big business will do then?
    • by GeneralTurgidson (2464452) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:12PM (#43131709)
      Africa
    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:38PM (#43131883) Homepage Journal

      Actually - China is working on a controlled die off anyway. They got to many people. They have limited the right to reproduce. One couple, one child. That is not a sustainable birth rate. China is intentionally decreasing their population, right now, as we sit and chat about it. A few catastrophes aren't going to deter them.

      • by altgeek (557342)

        Yep, I've been there many times on business since the mid-80's. Not only is the air "apocalyptic" in the major city/manufacturing zones, most of the population is addicted to the products of the state-sponsored/invested cigarette companies. Upon their ivory (uhhhh... jade) tower, the politburo figures that this will keep the population down so they don't end up like India. And if the population gets uppity, well, that is what the army is for.

      • by shoemilk (1008173)
        I only reply because there are mods as clueless as you.

        [The one-child policy] restricts urban couples to only one child, while allowing additional children in several cases, including twins, rural couples, ethnic minorities, and couples who are both only children themselves. In 2007, according to a spokesperson of the Committee on the One-Child Policy, approximately 35.9% of China's population was subject to a one-child restriction.(wikipedia [wikipedia.org])

        Granted, when the population is in the billions, 35.9% is a lot of people, but still it's not as far reaching as you are thinking. I'm too lazy to look up the numbers, but it wouldn't surprise me if 35.9% didn't equate to the number of one (or no) child households in western countries.

        • That's interesting, and all, but still, the government is discouraging population growth - am I right, or wrong? And, it seems to have had an effect: the overall fertility rate of mainland China is close to 1.4 children per women.[42]

          1.4 children per female is not a sustainable rate in the long run. Sustainable is a little more than two, as I recall.

          Had the government not intervened, and set no policy, what would China's population be today? Assuredly, it would be higher than it is now, by possibly anot

        • Oh - a link for you:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_rate [wikipedia.org]

      • by kilodelta (843627)
        Well yes, and there's the female problem in China too. It'll be a nation where the number of males is hovering around 70%. That's going to causer massive instability.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      China has enough population that if they'd die off quietly and cheaply, it wouldn't hurt China. And when China is expensive, everything will move to Africa. There's still plenty of cheap labor on the planet. The only question is where the cheapest place (and educated workforce reduces cost, as does solid infrastructure, one reason why China is cheaper than India, despite higher labor costs in China).
    • by cyfer2000 (548592)
      India.
    • by sjames (1099)

      Options include

      • Use pro[per workplace safety and pollution controls, make 50 point margin
      • Screw that, cause millions to die off in accidents and pollution somewhere else, make 51 point margin DING! DING! DING!
  • It's not like the government is going to run out of cheap labor any time soon.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's just one village.

      No, it isn't [huffingtonpost.com] just one village.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    that outlaws the use of secret footage taped at large agricultural companies, e.g. for animal mistreatment.

    There's about 10 states passing such bills in the US right now.

    So please, stop whining about china doing this.... clean up our own mess first.

  • Yeah, burying waste and information will never, ever come back to haunt them.

    It is an environmental time bomb. And there is plenty of blame to be spread around.
    • by amiga3D (567632)

      If the Tiananmen Square massacre didn't bother them I don't think some toxic waste will concern them either.

      • by Zumbs (1241138)
        Tiananmen Square is bothering them. If it did not, they would not be trying to keep it quiet.
        • by amiga3D (567632)

          They still state no one died there. That's why the US government loves them. They make the lying SOB's in Washington look like honest people.

  • We, the Pots, are calling the Kettle black.

    The crap we have going on in the US pales in comparison. We've got far more serious corruption at every turn and we've got problems which even exceed that.

  • by ErnyCowan (1687642) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:43PM (#43131919)
    In Canada our Conservative government has very similar policies. Using legislative process that suppressed scrutiny and debate it scrapped many environmental protection laws and regulations, eviscerated government science and oversight programs. It muzzles what scientists still remain buy requiring anyone in the civil service or or on contract with the government to receive approval from the Prime Minister's office before making any statement to the public. It even imposes these restrictions on non-Canadian agencies that need government approval to do research in Canada. That's what happens when ideologues get in control. - Erny
    • by dryeo (100693)

      They're innovative though. The latest arguments about why studies can't be released is to protect IP.
      http://www.canada.com/Scientist+calls+confidentiality+rules+Arctic+project+chilling/7960894/story.html [canada.com]
      At least the Chinese government didn't get elected on a platform of openness.

    • You have a chance to elect this Conservative government of yours out of office in the next election, no such chance for the Chinese.
      • O, I agree. I am just trying to express my dismay at the recent trend in many western countries to tolerate parties and elect them to govern when they follow the Chinese model for ways to hold and increase their power. Ideologically driven politicians are more alike than different, no matter what theiir nominal orientation, be it 'socialist' or 'capitalist'. As are religious fanatics, be they 'Muslim', 'Christian', 'Hindu' or 'Jew'. And I can still express my opinions on forums such as this, using my prop
  • Not exactly "States Secrets" labeling, rather an "obsessive information control" about environmental issues.
    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/canadian-scientists-continue-muzzled-harper-government-234902614.html [yahoo.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Try getting any info about the tar sands and pollution in the province of Alberta, Canada. That is some of the dirtiest oil in the world to extract and the effects are very damaging to the ecosystem. But, if you listened to the government of Alberta or even the government of Canada, it is all fresh and flowery.

  • If someone reports corruption in China, they go to jail for revealing state secrets. The 'People's Republic' my arse! It should be called 'The Ruling Elite's Republic of Oppression of the People of China'. That would be a far more accurate name than the patriotism they attempt to wrap their misdeeds in today.
  • China has the totalitarian control many in government and other positions of influence are looking for. Your reasonable expectation of truth and honor in your overlord's conduct hinders his ability to serve you properly. The bright, shining light in all this seems to be that the Chinese are going to the trouble to cover it up... this at least implies they care what their indentured populace thinks of them. I, for one, welcome the day when their malfeasance is their undoing.
  • [from an academic paper I wrote in 2010]

    During the 1990's, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization stated fish catches were increasing yearly. In 2001, two researchers revealed catches actually declined since the 80s. Chinese officials had overstated their national statistic, their operations of government subverted beneath operations of industry: the officials were promoted only if statistics reflected increased production. The Chinese officials had recorded "by-catch" (a term for unsalable fish) as pro

    • by eyenot (102141)

      oops, sorry:

      Clover, Charles. "The End of the Line." New York: The New Press. 2006. Print.

      Cousteau, Jacques and Susan Schiefelbein. "The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus." New York: Bloomsbury. 2007. Print.

      • Thanks. I'm sure I was just one of many Slashdot readers who was really interested in manually looking up those references. I mean, reading TFA may not be common on Slashdot, but we all enjoy a good trip to the library to sift through aisle after aisle of dead paper books. I'm on my way there now!
  • It's all about the luxury of trust, and of faith. If the governed trust the governors, then the governors will have the necessary freedom of action to pursue the right course, and not be constantly interrupted by whiney peasants who haven't the slightest idea of how hard it is to guide a nation into a new millennium of blessed prosperity.

    Contrast this with democracy, where the voters are expected to use their best judgement based on the limited local information they have at hand, and then watch, aghast as

    • You're right. It all comes down to trust in order to maintain a cohesive and functional society. That's why a culture based on trust is so important. But it's a two way street between those that govern and those that are governed. This why it's so important to (A), have democracy and (B), maintain that democracy. Ronald Reagan said it best when he said "Trust, but verify". I would surmise that the American voter has done an awful lot of trusting with little to no oversight. This goes for regardless of party

  • I forget if we (the United States) are currently the number one or number two polluter in the world? Considering it's a close race between us and a country with... 3 or 4x our population??? Ehhh Not so good for the US when the history books get written, unless we just nuke all the other nations first so they can't contradict us. In fact, the US getting in anybody's business about pollution is about as comedically hypocritical as if, say, the nation that 1) Invented weapons of mass destruction, 2) Is the
  • by Anonymous Coward
    About 1-2 years ago, I spoke about what my ex-gf had told me. And when I did, I had all sorts of ppl speaking about how I was wrong and that the UN and Europeans scientists would nullify what I wrote. Basically, my ex-gf and her team were allowed into China to do air-pollution measurements all over the nation. However, it was with the proviso that it would not be published, but would be reported to the Chinese gov. They were then allowed to run around from place to place relatively freely without telling th

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