Image via Beijing Cream
The people responsible for quality control on China’s water and air aren’t exactly good at their jobs, as the occasional deadly cloud of smog or pig-filled river could attest. Zhou Shengxiang, the country’s Environment Minister, apparently decided that long careers are for suckers and stated, “I’ve heard that there are four major embarrassing departments in the world and that China’s ministry of environmental protection is one of them.”
Zhou’s comments came just after the American Academy of Sciences published the results of a long-term study looking into Chinese deaths from air pollution. The Telegraph reports:
The environment minister made no mention of the other three most embarrassing departments but Chinese micro-bloggers were quick to weigh in with their suggestions.
One user put forward the navy of China’s landlocked neighbour, Mongolia, while another suggested Taiwan’s diplomatic core.
Yujian Feitian, a third micro-blogger, proposed China’s petitioning department where officials are tasked with hearing and acting on the grievances of ordinary Chinese.”It handles nothing and solves nothing and yet people are [still] encouraged to go there to have their say,” the blogger wrote, adding: “[It is] a department with Chinese characteristics.”
Air pollution in North China is estimated to reduce residents’ life expectancies by up to 5.5 years, and Zhou’s confession (may) mark the government’s realization that the current regulation system needs some serious reforms. Whatever happens, it will still be some time before Beijingers can see more than a few blocks of their city in the winter.