podcast: on China’s “eco-Potemkin village”
Ethical Corporation is a publisher and conference organizer on corporate ethics–broadly defined. Their material is fresh and thorough. You can sign up for a newsletter, and they have short podcasts as well.
Listen to this podcast with Toby Webb, EC’s Editor, and Paul French, their Asia-Pacific Editor (who is also publishing and marketing director at Access Asia), discussing Dongtan, the Chinese eco-village project being built on Chongming Island outside of Shanghai. The second part of the interview is mostly about the politics of this project at home in the UK, which is a great illustration of how these international development projects always have multiple motivations behind them. Of interest:
“…now every province in China wants to do one of these. It’s almost as if, if I build this small green village with a couple of windmills and some solar panels, then we’ve done with the environment and I can go back to my strip mining and my dirty steel mill.”
“Now what they’ve done is scare all the [migratory] birds away by building these environmentally friendly buildings…so in a sense you’re destroying the natural environment in order to create an environmentally friendly environment…”
For more on Dongtan, link via CDT, see the IEEE Spectrum magazine’s excellent article, “How to Build a Green City.”
One tiny critical point, a genuine question for those of us who are foreigners and think and write about China: why is it that so many of us continue to use the Cultural Revolution as a reference point for what’s happening today? Isn’t it kind of like using the San Francisco Summer of Love, 1967, as a common reference point for understanding something about current American culture? The CR was between thirty and forty years ago–that’s a long time. Of course it had a massive impact on many levels, but so did the free love/sexual revolution/women’s liberation 1960s movement in the U.S., but we don’t continue to reference it. Or maybe we should?