Environmental Activist Wu Dengming Dies

Founder of the Chongqing Green Volunteer League, Wu Dengming, who in his retirement organized no car days, tracked down pollution offenders, and risked his safety to film illegal logging in Sichuan forests, died at 73, according to The Economist:

Green, green, green, was all he thought about, the family grumbled. In 1997, at 57, he had retired from his security job at the university; but rather than slowing down he had revved up, racing round the city and the region to track down polluters of air, water or earth and report them to the authorities in Beijing. He was hardly ever at home. A row of shoes, many times mended, stood under his bed; most of them were still dirty from when he had sploshed around on the muddy banks of the Jialing or the Yangzi, pointing out to the world’s press where the outlet from a battery factory had stained the rocks yellow, or where the pipeline from a chromium plant had killed all the vegetation.His business card listed five titles and six awards, including “Top-ten Person, China Legal News, 2007”. The most important title was “Founder, Chongqing Green Volunteer League” (motto: “Action, not words”). He had set this up in 1995, originally as a campus group that planted trees, picked up litter and lectured people on their environmental duty. It had grown fast, and had notched up big successes. In 1998 he had taken a TV crew to film illegal logging in the wild forests of Sichuan outside the city; the film was a sensation, and logging was banned. Some 15,000 students signed his petition to stop the Nu river dams. His was one of the few NGOs to be recognised officially by Beijing, and in 2011, for the first time, a court admitted his suit against a factory that had dumped 5,000 tons of chromium waste in Yunnan province. No wonder he had a spring in his step, a smile on his face, and burst so readily, if hoarsely, into the old songs.It was all so dangerous, though, said his wife. What if she lost him? In the Sichuan forest, when he first went, the loggers had smashed the crew’s equipment. Factory owners frequently sent hoodlums to beat him up. Well, risk-taking was necessary, Mr Wu said. He was tough enough, having done his bit for Mao in the People’s Liberation Army; he also practised t’ai chi every day, to calm himself; and when security guards started towards his car he would just roar away, laughing.[Source]

The Canadian China-focused think tank, Probe International, reported that almost 1,000 people in Chongqing, including businesses Wu had criticized, paid tribute after he died from illness on July 19:

Wu Dengming, renowned Chinese environmentalist, and founder and president of the Green Volunteer League of Chongqing, died on July 19, 2013 in Chongqing, at the age of 73. Nearly a thousand Chongqing residents, along with friends and representatives from NGOs across the country, paid their last tribute to the elderly environmental fighter who contributed enormously to China through his dedication to the cause of environmental protection.

As Chongqing Business News (Chongqing shangbao) reported on July 22, 2013, even five polluting enterprises that Wu Dengming had criticized sent representatives to mourn and pay their respects, thanking him for effectively promoting the transformation and upgrading of their enterprises, and pushing their development.[Source]