By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua
BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- China's rapid economic growth and the ensuing environmental loopholes have posed challenges to the safety of soil, a problem that is expected to impose lasting damage on the livelihoods of many Chinese if not solved properly.
Thanks to a six-year government study that revealed vast soil pollution, the State Council, China's Cabinet, pledged at an executive meeting on Wednesday to launch a nationwide campaign on soil protection.
As agreed at the meeting, the government will make efforts to step up supervision to prevent and reduce soil pollution, better monitor and control risks, and rehabilitate polluted soil.
This marks a good beginning. In earlier reports, researchers have pointed out the problem of soil pollution, but a nationwide study like this provides a comprehensive look into the issue and offers hope that the government effort, albeit new, will help tackle the problem gradually.
The industries that generate pollutants, such as mining, are normally profitable, which emboldens those running businesses to ignore environmental threats. This is exactly where stricter government supervision is needed.
It is critical to establish a mechanism to ensure that government officials fulfill their line of duty, such as holding them responsible if factories under their supervision are caught violating environmental protection rules.
Whereas official surveillance plays a decisive role in the fight against soil pollution, the overall success of the cause requires the contribution of all Chinese living on this land.
First and foremost, business owners, particularly those of mines and heavy industry plants, need to cultivate a stronger sense of environmental protection and abide by established rules in waste discharge and treatment.
In this regard, stronger penalties need to be enforced. Severe environmental pollution has been listed as a crime under China's Criminal Law since 1997, but how to determine the crime and the corresponding penalties remain controversial.
In terms of supervision, the public is another important force -- after all, the residents who live near polluting plants can sense well if there are any real threats.
More and more Chinese citizens have realized the importance of environmental protection, and they are taking actions to defend their rights even by protests, either on the streets or on the Internet.
Besides supervising others, Chinese citizens, particularly farmers, also need to behave themselves while dealing with the land. Overuse of fertilizers and pesticides will leave chemical residue in the soil, which, over time, will flow into the upper links of the food chain.
From single-minded pursuit of economic benefits to harmonious co-existence with nature, the Chinese nation, including all its citizens, has a hard lesson to learn and real work to do.