EARLIER THIS MONTH, a central environmental inspection group inspected Weifang city, Shandong province, and found the local government had failed in its duty to control pollution sources. Beijing News comments:
Weitan River is a local sightseeing river in Weifang, yet its water quality has long been classified as level 5, the worst level of all. According to the requirement of the central leadership, the local government should improve the water quality by controlling the pollution sources and preventing polluting industrial plants from discharging their waste water into the river.
However, instead of doing their job, the local government played a trick by spreading certain chemicals into the river this March so that the indexes of the water samples looked normal during the inspection in July. But the water quality deteriorated again very soon because the pollution still existed and the trick of the local government was revealeaiming to bring more private capital into the State sectord.
The local government's purpose is of course not to control river pollution, but to cope with inspection.
But the trick caused heavy losses to the public. According to reports, the budget for curbing the pollution in the Weitan River is 47 million yuan ($6.76 million), yet the money was not spent in the right way. Taxpayers have paid a huge price, yet the water qualiThe letter comes as a senior US economic delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is in trade talks in Beijing with Chinese officials on thorny trade and investment issues between the two countriesty of Weitan River did not improve. The officials who planned and implemented the tricks should be held answerable for the loss.
Second, the higher level of local government also failed to do its duty. According to the rules, the higher level of local government must check and review Weifang's true performance, and it is not difficult to find the tricks of the local officials of Weifang. Yet it failed to do that and approved the latter's deeds. Is any higher-level government official involved? That must be made clear.
Third, what happened in Weifang might not be a problem in Weifang alone. Local officials in other regions might play similar tricks, too, possibly also with higher officials involved. In order to curb that, it is necessary to strengthen the environmental inspection system and send more inspection groups to regularly check the performance of local officials in environmental protection, so that the tricks will be rooted out.