PLEDGE TO RESTORE
Beijing must change approach to address environmental challenges
ENVIRONMENTAL pollution now poses a major non-traditional security (NTS) challenge to the Chinese society, and smog is its most visible element.
In a government report to the National People’s Congress earlier this month, Chinese premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed the government’s resolution and commitment to address air pollution as well as other environmental concerns.
Repeated emphasis on environmental issues by the leadership reflects the recognition of the urgency of this problem to China.
Despite the strengthened efforts to curb pollution, however, incidents of heavy pollution still recur. In December 2016 alone, over 20 cities in northern China were affected by three waves of severe smoggy days, with the first-ever red alert of heavy air pollution issued.
The persistence of heavy smog calls for a drastic change in approach to address the environmental challenges.
Beijing began to recognise the importance of NTS issues in the late 1990s when witnessing the security implications of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 for Southeast Asian countries. This understanding was reinforced by a string of non-military emergencies, like the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic in 2003 and the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.
The leadership now conceives national security as beyond the traditional military dimension, but includes agendas like economic security, resource security and ecological security.
This trend is reflected in the incorporation of the ecological dimension into the strategy of national development unveiled in 2012, which emphasises balanced and sustainable development.
The elevation of NTS issues in China’s national strategy indicates
SATURDAY, MARCH 25, 2017