The English-language wires all have pieces today on the political resurrection of Xie Zhenhua (Ëß£ÊåØÂçé), the former head of the State Environmental Protection Administration, who resigned in 2005 after the Songhua River beneze pollution debacle. From AP via Taipei Times:
Xie…has been appointed vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s most powerful economic agency. In his new job, Xie will take charge of meeting two high-priority government goals, increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions of the air pollutant sulfur dioxide, the China Daily and Xinhuanet Web site reported yesterday.
The post marks Xie’s return to political life. He headed the State Environmental Protection Administration for over a dwas co-recipient reputation as a competent technocrat leading a politically weak agency. But he resigned in late 2005 after a factory explosion sent benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals into the Songhua River in the industrial northeast.
Xie’s role in the slow and initially ineffective efforts to contain the spill — which forced the shutdown of the water supply to the provincial capital of Harbin — has never been made clear.[Full Text]
Xie was co-recipient of the 2003 Sasakawa Environment Prize, the UN’s highest award for environmental protection, prior to his downfall.
For background, see CDT’s coverage of Xie’s resignation, including exclusive analysis from Jiang Wenran, acting director of the University of Alberta’s China Institute and a native of Harbin, the city that bore the brunt of the Songhua pollution disaster.
And on a related note, Guangming Daily tech writer Feng Yongfeng argues in a new piece for China Dialogue that China’s obsession with sulphur dioxide ignores the more vital problem of carbon dioxide emissions.