How graft harms the en­vi­ron­ment

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

Ti­betan mas­tiff own­ers usu­ally give their pets a glo­ri­ous fu­neral to honor their life­long faith­ful­ness and ser­vices as shep­herd dogs. But re­cently some of the prized an­i­mals al­most ended up in hot pot restau­rants, be­cause their rais­ers could not af­ford to feed them any more af­ter fail­ing to find buy­ers for them.

The rea­son, many say, is the anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign.

Last month, dog lovers saved 20 Ti­betan mas­tiffs and hun­dreds of other dogs from a truck in Bei­jing’s sub­urbs that was car­ry­ing them to eater­ies in­North­east China, by pay­ing $5 each for them.

In the 10 years up to 2013, the price of a pure­bred Ti­betan mas­tiff in­creased from about a fewt­hou­sand dol­lars to $200,000, be­cause they were popular with busi­ness­peo­ple and civil ser­vants as gifts. But now there are al­most no buy­ers.

There has been a slump in the trade of jade and valu­able wood too. Apiece of blood­stone of the size of a thick book from the moun­tains in Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion was worth up to $1 mil­lion un­til about two years ago. But now a blood­stone of that size can be sold only af­ter be­ing cut it into small pieces for $2 each. The ex­trac­tion of jade and chop­ping of trees tomake ex­pen­sive fur­ni­ture or show­pieces caused wide­spread dam­age to the moun­tains and forests. And all be­cause of cor­rupt of­fi­cials, who de­vel­oped a spe­cial lik­ing for ex­clu­sive and ex­otic items.

Like­wise, their de­mand for Ti­betan mas­tiffs led to mas­sive mixed breed­ing of the species and threat­en­ing its ge­netic pool. This means cor­rup­tion has harmed the en­vi­ron­ment and ecol­ogy as well.

The Ti­betan mas­tiff, jade and valu­able wood mar­kets have be­come popular top­ics of dis­cus­sion among peo­ple, be­cause it is an open se­cret that the tem­per­a­ture of th­ese mar­kets sig­nify the level of cor­rup­tion in so­ci­ety. The au­thor­i­ties should, there­fore, strengthen su­per­vi­sion of th­ese mar­kets.

The gov­ern­ment is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to start their own busi­ness and pur­sue in­no­va­tion by sim­pli­fy­ing the reg­is­tra­tion process for small star­tups. But it is equally im­por­tant to show zero-tol­er­ance to cor­rup­tion in or­der to build a healthy busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in which small star­tups could suc­ceed.

If the au­thor­i­ties re­ally want to see small busi­nesses pros­per and be­come in­no­va­tive, they have to keep their eyes open to all sorts of de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing the mar­kets for dogs, stones and pricey wood. The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. liyang@chi­

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