The environment is everyone’s concern, because we all live under the same sky — in Beijing, often a dark, dirty one, rife with health hazards. It’s our collective duty to take care of it, but what can anyone — an individual, particularly one with power — do to spur a collective response against man-made threats to our natural world?
What would they do?
That’s exactly the question one reporter — described by local media as a “foreign journalist” — posed to a panel of delegates at a National People’s Congress press conference on Wednesday. Watch a clip of the inquiry above, and the response — specifically, the lack thereof.
“I am also very concerned about environmental problems,” the unnamed reporter says. “So I want to ask every delegate — because every time this question is asked to an individual, we all say, ‘Well, that’s not under my control.’ Now, if we think about things in a different way, if I just think, if I were the minister of the enivornment, if I, myself, were the environment minister, if I wanted to improve air quality, well, what could I do?”
“Everyone has to breathe this air,” she continues. “If you could somehow live here and avoid that, that would be some kind of magic, right? So it’s because every person, work unit, and company must, by necessity, face this problem — that is to say, if we solve this problem soon, won’t everyone have a chance to be healthy, won’t we have a good environment?
“If we all take responsibility, and commit to one purpose, if I said, ‘At my work unit, we must have X number of cars, employees show up at 8 and work for X number of hours, if I can’t allow for any changes, if that’s how things are, can we change our environment?”
She goes on for a bit longer, then gets emotional through this next part.
“We always say we must, absolutely must develop economically. But I believe GDP and the environment are connected. Even if our GDP is zero, but if we are able to solve environmental problems quickly, I think this would be a great accomplishment for officials. Right? And even if we grow by 15 percent, but our environment was already so terribly polluted, our lifespans would be shortened, our living bodies would be in pain, at that point, what good is having a lot of money?
“I think this is a problem for everyone.
“Now, let’s look at it from a different angle: can’t we do anything in our professional capacities? Because everyone says, that’s not my problem. Coming here to ask these questions, I haven’t ridden in a car, I’ve taken the subway the whole time.”
She ends abruptly. The delegrate running the session, the newscaster tells us, said “she just answered her own question.”
In a way, by not caring to reply, the delegate answered her question, too.