By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua
BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The momentous campaign of "beautiful China" by the country's new leadership must be given more power in terms of administration to ensure it is put in practice by local governments.
Talks about building a beautiful country have been heated in the past few months and again during the ongoing annual parliamentary session, but they can only remain empty if no concrete measures are taken to make it a compulsory index in assessing the performance of local officials.
It is widely agreed by Chinese people that a "beautiful China" is one with blue sky and clear rivers, but in reality the sky is often shrouded by smog and rivers are polluted.
After three decades or so of continuous high economic growth, mostly achieved through labor-intensive manufacturing, accumulated environmental problems have finally broken out in recent years and public complaints have become more audible.
The latest appalling example of pollution came from the metropolis of Shanghai where authorities had collected nearly 6,000 dead pigs as of Tuesday that were found floating on the Huangpu River, the major source of drinking water for the city of more than 20 million people.
Other daunting environmental problems include the heavy smog that has shrouded large parts of the country several times this winter, forcing local residents to put on masks or even stay indoors to avoid respiratory infection.
Undoubtedly, some businesses and people should be blamed for the lack of social responsibility as they have failed to observe environmental rules, but more blame lies in the governments at different levels for their often loose policies and insufficient supervision.
Had some local governments not pursued GDP growth rate as their almost single target of work, factories that did not meet the standards on industrial waste discharge would not have had the chance to blossom across the country.
Moreover, if the governments had exercised stricter supervision and taken in public complaints more readily, environmental hazards would not have lingered in some areas and even prompted local residents to protest on the streets.
It is now imperative to make local governments and officials understand that economic growth must not be achieved at the cost of environmental health.
Only by making environmental protection more important than simple GDP growth figures in evaluating officials' performances can they have the motive to shut down heavily-polluting but mostly profitable and tax-paying factories.
This is where the top legislature can play a large role by making the change into law and ensure objective evaluation of local governments' work, where both official and public supervision are vital.
Only when officials know the weight of supervision and the political cost of their environmental negligence, will they truly become aware of the importance of green development over GDP growth.