China is shutting down tens of thousands of factories in an effort to crack down on those violating environmental laws.
China is cleaning up its air.
Air pollution has been a problem in China for decades. Finally, however, it seems that the Chinese government has decided to take the country’s air pollution problem more seriously than ever before. In the past year, inspectors from China’s Ministry of Environment has flooded 30 provinces. These inspectors have sifted through over 80,000 factories, where they’ve fined, reprimanded, or charged factory officials with criminal offenses. Activities in entire industrial regions have even come to a screeching halt as the Chinese government temporarily shut down the factories’ access to electricity and gas.
The closures have affected several businesses in Eastern China. Some factory owners have opted to relocate their operations to other countries in an effort to meet their deadlines and make their deliveries. It seems, however, that the losses of these factories may be beneficial to the country in the long run.
China has shut factories down in a huge wave of crackdowns.
Estimates say that about 40% of China’s factories have been shut down. These months of efforts precede a recent announcement by the Chinese government about the presence of fine particulate matter called PM2.5. According to environmental protection minister Li Ganjie, the government aims to cut PM2.5 from 47 micrograms per cubic meters in 2016 to 35 micrograms by 2035.
"It will be very difficult to reach the goal, and we need to make greater efforts to achieve it," said Li.
These recent crackdowns are a good start, and they’re likely to become more common. "It's a huge event. It's a serious event. I think many of us here believe it will become the new normal," says Michael Crotty, president of textile export company MKT & Associates. "The consumers of China don't want red and blue rivers. They don't want to see gray skies every day."
So how are the businessmen in China taking this? While some may not look favorably on the government’s recent environmental cleanup efforts, others welcome the change. Inspections make factories more socially responsible and does good for their supply chain, says Archie Liu, a colleague of Crotty’s. “Then we can tell Walmart, Costco, and other retailers of ours that we're qualified and that everything we make for Americans [is] environmentally friendly."
There’s hope yet for cleaner skies over China.
One thing to take away from this is that contrary to what many believe, environmental interests don’t always run counter to business or economic interests. However, there’s still a risk that the crackdown might harm China’s booming economy.
Then again, these efforts won’t just clear up the skies. There’s a host of environmental benefits, including cleaner water, that will likely result from stringent enforcement of environmental laws. Of course, avoiding another “airpocalypse” is already in itself a huge plus.
As can be expected, however, factories and businesses are adjusting to the new norm of strict environmental law protection. Of course, these companies now have more reason to implement better, safer, and more environmentally friendly business practices.
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