One of China’s more prolific columnists details for China Dialogue the sundry ways in which Chinese officials waste money that might otherwise be spent protecting the environment:
In the past few years China’s central government has begun promoting the concept of a “conserving society”. But this should not just be an economic concept; it should be a mode of social development driven by need to conserve China’s resources. And in a country like China, with its traditionally “government-led society”, there can be no doubt that a “conserving government” is needed. However, local governments are among the most wasteful factors in Chinese society, and it is hard to see how they can currently help us achieve that goal. [Full Text]
Further on, he reveals the use of government cars for private purposes amounted 200 billion yuan (around US$26 billion) in 2006, not far off the (officially stated) military budget for that year. More apropos, he notes that one public servant uses as much electricity in his office in a single day as the average Beijing resident uses in 19 days.