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Cablegate: Wuxi Eager for Environmental Collaboration

VZCZCXRO8803
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0483/01 2140451
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020451Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6101
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1311
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0786
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0808
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0806
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0924
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0645
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAEPA/EPA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 6543

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SHANGHAI 000483

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/I ANN COVINGTON
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL- MCCASKILL AND NGUYEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV PREL PHUM EIND CH
SUBJECT: WUXI EAGER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COLLABORATION

REF: A) SHANGHAI 420 B) BEIJING 4127

(SBU) This cable is Sensitive But Unclassified. Not for
dissemination outside of USG channels.

1. (SBU) Summary: During a July 19 meeting, Wuxi Environmental
Protection Bureau (EPB) officials were eager to discuss the Lake
Tai crisis and opportunities for cooperation; however, they were
much less eager for Congenoffs to actually see Lake Tai. Wuxi
EPB officials vented their frustrations over structural
challenges that hinder the ability of local EPBs to work
together to prevent problems like the blue-algae bloom that
occurred this spring and also to react to crises when they do
occur. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
Wuxi EPB Welcomes Collaboration, But Wary of Showing off Lake Tai
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (SBU) On July 19, Congenoffs traveled to Wuxi, Jiangsu for
meetings with the Wuxi Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) and
to check on the status of the recovery of Lake Tai from the
massive blue-algae bloom that occurred earlier this summer
(reftel A). Congenoffs were accompanied by ConGen's Science
Fellow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9
Director of China Initiatives Lida Tan.

3. (SBU) Wuxi EPB Deputy Director Gu Gang indicated that he had
been "extremely busy" in the past few weeks hosting "foreign
visitors", including officials from a variety of foreign
governments and international press. Nevertheless, he seemed
eager to discuss the crisis with Congenoffs and asked many
questions about crisis response in the United States and about
U.S. EPA's experiences in the United States. He was
particularly interested in the United States' experiences with
water recovery, from both a technical and social angle. Gu was
also extremely interested in learning more about the concept of
total maximum daily load and welcomed collaboration between the
United States and China. He said that Wuxi EPB was busy
investigating the source of the pollutants in Lake Tai and it
would like to create a more comprehensive nutrient source
identification program. (Note: In a meeting the previous week
with Foreign Commercial Service Officers, Gu outlined specific
technologies that the Wuxi EPB was looking to purchase
including: ion ICP-MS, liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry,
gas chromatography, and automatic speed solvent evaporation
concentrators. End Note.)

4. (U) The Wuxi FAO readily agreed to bring Congenoffs to Lake
Tai, however when the group arrived at the lake, Congenoffs
realized that they were not at the main body of the lake, but
rather a small inlet. Wuxi Foreign Affairs Office Division
Chief Zhao Wei said that the main body of the lake was "too far
away" and that there was not enough time. As soon as Congenoffs
exited the car the foul odor of the lake, even though just a
small inlet, was immediately noticeable and there appeared to be
people cleaning the lake. (Comment: The assertion that there
was not enough time to visit the main body of Lake Tai is
dubious; the meeting with EPB ended early and the main body of
the Lake was approximately 15 minutes further than the inlet we
visited; if anything, there was too much time in the schedule.
The Wuxi FAO appeared to have a prepared route for all visiting
officials and they did not want to stray from and that they felt
the inlet provided a "model" to emulate. End Comment.)

----------------------
Structural Challenges
----------------------

5. (SBU) Deputy Director Gu's numerous questions about the
interaction in the United States between federal, state and
local governments led to a lengthy discussion regarding the
administration of the Lake Tai watershed district. The Lake Tai
watershed district supports more than 40 million people in two
provinces and much of the water in the district originates from
the Yangtze River which flows through several additional
interior provinces.

6. (SBU) According to Division Chief Zhao, there are four

SHANGHAI 00000483 002 OF 002


major administrative regions surrounding Lake Tai that encompass
two provinces: Wuxi (4.5 million residents); Changzhou (2.3
million residents); Suzhou (6 million residents) in Jiangsu
province and Huzhou (2.5 million residents) in Zhejiang
province. The administrative regions are not allowed to deal
with each other directly but must go through the cumbersome
procedure of coordinating through the provincial headquarters in
Nanjing and Hangzhou, respectively. According to Gu, this meant
that they rarely interacted with their counterparts in
neighboring administrative regions, much less neighboring
provinces.

7. (SBU) The division of responsibilities at the national level
compounded matters. Unlike the United States where the EPA is
responsible for both water quantity and water quality, in China
the Ministry of Water Resources is responsible for managing some
aspects of the watershed districts, such as water levels, while
SEPA is charged with monitoring water quality.

-------------------------
Tough Decisions Ahead
-------------------------

8. (U) Division Chief Zhao explained that by the end of 2007
Wuxi will have closed more than 750 chemical factories and that
the Wuxi government was in the process of drafting new
regulations to further regulate the type and size of factories
in the district. The long-range plan is to relocate all of the
factories to industrial zones located in
less-environmentally-sensitive areas and provide centralized
wastewater treatment plants. Both Gu and Zhao acknowledged that
implementing the new standards would be an enormous challenge
and could have dramatic impact on the local economy and that the
public's reaction to these changes could put the brakes on
reform.

----------
Comment
----------

9. (SBU) While the actions and relative openness of the Wuxi
government are encouraging, local officials will certainly face
enormous economic pressures when closing factories, casting
doubt on whether they will be able to keep their focus on only
allowing environmentally sustainable factories in the area.
Furthermore, existing institutional framework challenges
compound this problem and will continue to hamper local
governmental efforts to prevent and react to environmental
crises. End Comment.
SCHUCHAT

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