Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

On Social Media, Chinese Citizens Challenge Officials to Swim in Polluted Rivers

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 21 2013

A riverbank in Puning, China (Wikimedia Commons).

When the smog crisis in China escalated last month, even the tight-lipped state media broke down and joined the widespread complaints across social media that the government wasn't doing enough to curb industrial pollution.  A month later, netizens are mobilizing again; and this time they are directly confronting state officials about the country’s thousands of polluted waterways.  

Global Voices reports that users of Sina Weibo, the popular Chinese microblogging platform, have been aggregating photo documentation of river pollution in their hometowns.  The effort began earlier this month during the Chinese New Year celebration, when a prominent activist named Deng Fei posted a call to arms asking for the images.  Time Magazine wrote yesterday that some weibo posts are now offering cash rewards to state officials, challenging them to go swimming in polluted waterways.  One businessman in Rui’an offered 200,000 yuan to a local environmental protection chief, in exchange for a twenty-minute dip in a garbage-choked river. 

Another source of ire expressed on social media has been the government’s proposed plan to ban barbeques to combat air pollution.  With industrial emissions and CO2 output from vehicles blamed for much of the smog problem, many netizens believe this initiative misses the point. 

As with the smog crisis, a few state media outlets have echoed the concerns of Weibo users, including an official government newspaper, The People’s Daily. The open concern in Chinese society about pollution – and the public health crisis it engenders – means this is an issue the government can no longer ignore. 

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

First POST: Responding

The aftermath of Ferguson continues to reverberate; how one Senate campaign took advantage of Facebook's micro-targeting tools; the new Congress' tech agenda; and much, much more GO

tuesday >

First POST: Sad Reality

How social media changed the course of the Ferguson story; Ready for Hillary's 3-million-member email list; why Mark Cuban opposes net neutrality rules; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: All Against All

Why Uber isn't "the future" of cities; why journalists lost control of journalism; how Sean Parker is spending his political money; and much, much more. GO

More