BEIJING, July 30 (Xinhua) -- A mass protest against a project that posed potential pollution risks in east China gradually waned after the local government announced it would permanently abandon the project.
It was another case showing that only transparent governance and a public that rationally expresses its interests can have positive interactions that will culminate in win-win deals.
The protest came as people in Qidong, Jiangsu province, worried that a Japanese Oji Paper Group project would pollute the sea with wastewater discharged via a drainpipe. Thousands of people gathered in the city's downtown square on Saturday to voice their concerns.
It was similar to the protest staged in the southwest China city of Shifang from June 30 to July 2. The protests prompted the local government to cancel plans to construct a molybdenum-copper alloy factory in the city.
In the course of industrialization in China, the public has become more aware of their rights and the importance of environmental protection. Consequently, mass protests have occasionally taken place around the country in recent years. Most of these protests were resolved after local governments actively responded to public opinions.
The People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said in a commentary on Monday that authorities need to draw lessons from these issues. They need to reflect on whether they have adequately assumed their responsibilities to the people and fully considered potential risks to environment and society.
In addition, they need to review whether environmental assessments have been made transparent and open to the public, as some of the projects have already passed the assessment phase. Authorities should also consider investors' interests and rights in the aftermath.
A responsible government should stand independently of practical economic interests, acting as a balancer of various interests in society and the advocate for maximum public interests.
To this end, the government should provide enough channels for the public to express appeals for its interests, establish open and transparent decision-making mechanisms, cultivate an inclusive environment for public opinion and ensure the fairness of judicature, the People's Daily commentary said.
In the meantime, China is seeing the diversification of interests and people's ever-increasing awareness of their rights. Most of them are willing to realize their rights through peaceful means, which is an indispensable element for both authorities and the public in resolving social issues.
If both sides respect each other, establishing a positive interaction mechanism based on a public willing to peacefully recognize its rights, China can remain stable and address the challenges along the path of development.