MNC Polluters "Blacklisted" in China

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 8/21/2007 10:51:00 AM
The Chinese leadership is fond of adopting a "pot calling the kettle black" political ploy for what ails China. Why is China's trade surplus with the rest of the world so large? Because foreign manufacturers choose to take advantage of labor and environmental arbitrage in China. Why does China export some hazardous products? Well, imported ones are pretty dangerous too. Now we have this related point of, why is pollution in China so bad? You guessed it--foreign firms keep flouting Chinese environmental regulations.

Actually, I am inclined to believe that more than a handful of these violations are real. However, while Chinese environmental regulations look quite strong on paper, enforcement has been lax against both local and foreign violators. Hence this opportunity to score easy political points on the environmental front by shaming various multinational corporations. Cited here are the findings of an NGO, though you can bet that these findings would not receive attention in a state publication if they weren't...useful. From the China Daily (our favorite official publication):

Chinese joint ventures with global corporations such as Pepsi-Cola, Samsung, 3M and GM are among 100 multinational companies on an updated blacklist of water polluters, according to a non-governmental organization.

The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs has compiled a list of water polluters based on government data since 2004 and publishes it at The 2006 report listed 33 offenders.

Appearing on the latest list are foreign brands well known to Chinese consumers, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Kao.

It also reveals pollution caused by some global chemical giants, such as DuPont, Degussa and Ciba.

Ma Jun, director of the institute, collated information released by environmental watchdogs during the past four years. The updated list showed that some multinational companies have not taken the lead in environmental protection, but instead became severe and chronic polluters.

For example, Tianshui Benma Brewery Co Ltd in Gansu Province, in which Denmark-based Carlsberg has an investment, discharged untreated wastewater into rivers for two years, defying repeated government orders asking it to stop.

Four branches of Pepsi-Cola were found to have violated environmental rules in the cities of Changchun, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Fuzhou.

Ma warned multinational companies not to lower their environmental standards after entering China.

"The parent companies in their home countries are models for environmental protection. But some of them seem to have slackened their efforts here."

He attributed the situation to the companies' pursuit of profits, but said weak law enforcement and supervision have left loopholes that invite violations.

He said the updated list revealed "only the tip of the iceberg" in the overall pollution situation.

Pollution by domestic companies is even more severe, according to Ma.