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China Says Serious Polluters Will Get the Death Penalty 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the green-revolution-will-not-be-televised dept.
formaggio writes "According to the Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese government is now allowing courts to punish those who commit environment crimes with the death penalty. The new judicial interpretation comes in the wake of several serious environmental problems that have hit the country over the last few months, including dangerous levels of air pollution, a river full of dead pigs, and other development projects that have imperiled public health."
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China Says Serious Polluters Will Get the Death Penalty

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  • Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Good. About time someone did this.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:20PM (#44073383) Journal

      I seriously doubt it will be implemented against any company or person that is sufficiently connected to the PRC government - this list would include pretty much every existing big company HQ'd in China.

      Now potential competitors to the aforementioned companies, and anyone who the PRC government doesn't like? Oh hell yes it'll be implemented - even if the offender has to get a little governmental 'assistance' in generating pollution sufficient to warrant execution.

      • by jbeaupre (752124) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:45PM (#44073627)

        Connected with who in the PRC?

        China is not immune to politics. Being aligned with the wrong person at the wrong time, you can end up being made a high profile example.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:55PM (#44073749)

          China is not immune to politics. Being aligned with the wrong person at the wrong time, you can end up being made a high profile example.

          Exactly. This is the whole point of the legislation. Now they can use "pollution" as an excuse to purge political enemies, while claiming to be "tough" on the environment.

          Excessively harsh penalties tend to be counter-productive because they are almost never carried out, thus resulting in a culture of impunity. A $5 fine for littering would be far more effective.

          • by Luckyo (1726890) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:28PM (#44074049)

            This isn't about littering. This is about high level leadership making choices for quick profit over sustainable methods. Historically and criminologically the only place that severe punishments ever worked has been at that level, because at that level people spend significant amount of consideration about risk/reward ratio.

            It's the same reason why tough penalties don't work for petty crime or desperate people - they do not perform same evaluations with anywhere near the same seriousness or effort.

            • by ADRA (37398)

              Visit Singapore and say that again (if you haven't been arrested mind you).

          • by femtobyte (710429) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:37PM (#44074171)

            Excessively harsh penalties tend to be counter-productive because they are almost never carried out

            Tell that to the people China executed over industrial-scale adulteration of milk with melamine in 2008:

            A number of criminal prosecutions occurred, with two people being executed, another given a suspended death penalty, three others receiving life imprisonment, two receiving 15-year jail terms,[6] and seven local government officials, as well as the Director of the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) being fired or forced to resign.

            (from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org])

            Just because the government of our Megacorporate States of America would never dream about enforcing substantial penalties against our industrialist overlords for mass-murdering in the name of profit, doesn't mean China won't.

            • by lgw (121541)

              Do you believe a single person punished in that incident was actually a powerful decision-maker? I guess it would be possible, but it wouldn't be my first assumption. (Complicit, sure, but the actual decision makers?)

              • by femtobyte (710429)

                The punishments included life imprisonment for Tian Wenhua (former chairwoman of Sanlu Group), and 15 years imprisonment for Wang Yuliang (former executive of Sanlu) --- so, I'd say the punishment reached even the powerful on top (not just going after a few low-level employees while letting the executives get off with slap-on-the-wrist fines).

              • Do you believe a single person punished in that incident was actually a powerful decision-maker?

                Punishing the people who give the orders is important. But it is often even more important to punish the people that follow the orders as well. There are a lot more order followers than order givers, and every one of them should have an incentive to refuse to obey, or even better, report the illegal activities. There should be accountability at every level, and no one should be able to get away with the Nuremberg defense of "I was only following orders."

            • Excessively harsh penalties tend to be counter-productive because they are almost never carried out

              Tell that to the people China executed over industrial-scale adulteration of milk with melamine in 2008:

              A number of criminal prosecutions occurred, with two people being executed, another given a suspended death penalty, three others receiving life imprisonment, two receiving 15-year jail terms,[6] and seven local government officials, as well as the Director of the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) being fired or forced to resign.

              (from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org])

              Just because the government of our Megacorporate States of America would never dream about enforcing substantial penalties against our industrialist overlords for mass-murdering in the name of profit, doesn't mean China won't.

              Sad, isn't it? The people of the Communist People's Republic of China are more likely to get justice than the people of the morally upright USA. It may be a ragged and uneven justice, since with the right friends, offenders will often go scot-free, but occasionally they're going to crucify someone.

              In the US, offenders may in extreme cases pay a small (cost of doing business) fine, but they'll never have to worry about accounting for their actions with their lives.

          • by PraiseBob (1923958) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:43PM (#44074245)
            Freakanomics did a great study on the effectiveness of fines that seems especially relevant to your comment: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/books/chapters/0515-1st-levitt.html [nytimes.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Great, another factual anti-china post.

        Hey, has anyone went to jail for that Financial meltdown yet? Hopefully their connections did not come into play.

        • by drakaan (688386)

          ...can't...resist....correcting......grammar...

          ...Hey, has anyone gone to jail for that financial meltdown yet...

  • Ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday June 21, 2013 @03:57PM (#44073161)
    Boy, I sure hope they catch and kill the worst pollution offender in the entire country: the Chinese government.
  • by Pagey123 (1278182) on Friday June 21, 2013 @03:57PM (#44073163)

    In Communist China, pollution kills you (literally)!

  • I'll bet a truckload of dead pigs that it won't result in any measurable improvement in China's environmental quality. China's environmental crisis has been brought about with the blessings of the Communist Party. Expecting them to now fix it by executing a few factory owners is very naïve indeed.

  • The Chinese can't even effectively fine polluters and now there's talk of capital punishment for polluting? What next? Decimate school children when their class average isn't up to par because the instructor's scolding has no effect?

    There are several key problems here that are the real underlying problems: 1) the Chinese government is not unified in their vision of the environment and I'm talking differences spanning across provincial & federal levels as well as between federal ministries. 2) they collectively refuse to accept that their abuse of natural resources is part of their winning equation against other capitalist nation states and, as a consequence, no one can talk about how this will hurt their bottom line even though several parts of the government realize it (we pay them to import our pollution). 3) there is widespread corruption at all levels which is why fining is ineffective -- it's so bad that I'm sure if capital punishment is meted out, it will be given to the fork lift operator who dumped those pig carcasses in the river after his supervisor told him to "make them disappear or you'll disappear." No one up the chain will be held accountable and if they are, they need only grease some local wheels and they can consider themselves shielded.

    It's disgusting and it's why I tell people where they can shove it when they complain that the EPA is destroying jobs. It's not perfect but we have to cling to things that kind of work when so many other "solutions" are abysmal failures.

    The Chinese government is threatening to kill polluters but they can't see that they're part of and dependent on and benefiting from a system of habitual polluting. Increasing the impact of the punishment is a poor and maybe even more detrimental substitution for actually bringing to justice the true criminals up and down their ranks.
    • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:32PM (#44073489)

      I second this. I spend a good portion of graduate school in Beijing and Manchuria, and you hit the nail on the head. The only people who will pay the price for pollution are the dumb schmucks whose guanxi is not powerful enough to shield them from scapegoating.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      The Chinese can't even effectively fine polluters and now there's talk of capital punishment for polluting?

      This is China. If you do something big, that completely embarrasses the state, you're going up against the wall.

      Dump a few tonnes of coal sludge in the river? No big deal.

      Then the press picks up the story, and people are outraged? Firing squad...

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The Chinese can't even effectively fine polluters and now there's talk of capital punishment for polluting?

      They are doing other stuff in enforce the law and tighten it up. I'm kind of amazed you actually assumed that the headline was the only thing they were doing.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      The Chinese can't even effectively fine polluters and now there's talk of capital punishment for polluting? What next? Decimate school children when their class average isn't up to par because the instructor's scolding has no effect?

      They did execute some executives who were selling tainted baby milk a few years ago.

      Really in China the crime is embarrassing the government. Environmental damage is just the particular means in this case. As with everything else this will be very selectively enforced. They could care less what you dump in the stacks as long as your incident isn't the one that makes CNN for a week. If that happens, Zàijiàn.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:04PM (#44073243)

    Not just environmental stuff. What about the wallstreet guys that stole or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Death penalty. Think about it like this.... that is the life savings of how many people? Guy robs a liquor store for 100 dollars and gets 20 years. Guy that steals 100 million gets 5 years in a minimum security prison.

    Many cases of fraud, theft, vandalism, etc need to carry stiffer sentences. While of course other sentences need to be reduced radically. All the drug related crimes need to be looked again. Consensual adults and all that.

    • vandalism? So you think some kid doing graffiti should get a harsher penalty? I live in downtown LA and much of the graffiti here is quite artistic and adds value to its surroundings. I can agree with you that white collar crime should carry harsher penalties, but vandalism? Really?
      • vandalism? So you think some kid doing graffiti should get a harsher penalty?

        Corporal punishment would be better in that case -- cheaper to administer, and probably better long-term for younger criminals rather than putting them in prison and effectively taking away valuable time from their developing years while exposing them to far worse criminals. Better for everyone if a juvenile vandal gets what Michael Fay [wikipedia.org] got in Singapore in 1994. It's painful and humiliating, but it's over with quickly, and he can go back to school the next day, mindful that he better not pull that kind of c

    • by kiite (1700846) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:32PM (#44073499)

      Holy bad example, Batman! A guy who robs a liquor store for $100 doesn't get 20 years for stealing $100. He gets 20 years for pointing a gun at the liquor store attendant and threatening his life for personal gain. Possibly as a repeat offender.

      What a lot of commenters don't seem to get is that the sort of pollution that hardcore offenders engage in over there often results in human deaths. So the potential for punishment is merely being brought in line with the crime. You won't deter serious polluters with a fine.

      That said, sure, many crimes are not proportional to their sentences. No news here. While we're making improbable demands, i think the act of spitting chewing gum on the street or sidewalk should be treated as vandalism, and enforced accordingly.

  • China is saving more lives abandoning communism and heavy socialism, as we are witnessing. Would that the west keep that in mind as it rockets in the wrong direction, living off past glories of economic freedom.

    Murder people? You've gotta be kidding. There's a reason you don't execute rapists or failed attempted murderers -- "If you're gonna be exected anyway, well, dead women tell no tales."

    Presumably dead inspectors tell no tales, either. :(

    By the way, if your impulse to the OP is "Good!", you habe ser

  • When free trade with China was originally promoted it was always promised China would become more like America with open markets and civil liberties. But I believe the opposite is true with America becoming more like China. Some examples are exemption of clean water act for oil and gas exploration, promotion of the keystone tar sand pipeline, and monsanto protection act. While these crony capitalism arrangements would not be surprising in China they are becoming more frequent here. Abolition of labor unions
  • Will they go after the low level works or the people calling the shots?

  • Too much (Score:4, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:44PM (#44073625)

    A prison sentence is sufficient. With a bread and water diet.

    Guess where we got the water.

  • We need stronger laws against companies to make them more accountable. Prove to me you did all you could to avoid polluting, I might be lenient.
    If I see that there is a flagrant denial for the law and pollution was done with no thought what so ever., you die! Not just you, but all the board members and employees delivering the sludge to location xx

    I like it, I like it alot!

  • Every leftie, every Democrat, every Obama supporter just doesn't know which hole to blow out of. Quick! They need to know what to think! Slashot, you have a mission!
  • They mean failing to bribe the government to overlook it.

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