Here’s one of the recent high-profile exhortations about the need to protect the environment. Premier Wen basically blamed local officials for not paying enough attention to environmental protection and focusing too much on economic development. (SCMP 4/19.)
But there was no effort to take responsibility for the incentive structure that drives local officials to put economic growth over environmental protection and also the lack of an adequate regulatory infra-structure at the national and sub-national level that is a basic prerequisite for an effective environmental protection scheme. As it is well known, the SEPA is way too small to act as the equivalent of the US EPA, especially given the size of China. Sigh . . .