A discussion with the climate expert Yu Jie on China’s attitude toward climate change. erschienen in: Spector cut+paste, No. 4, March 2008
In January 2008 I flew to China for five weeks. I wanted to find out whether the climate discourse had attained the same level of importance in China as in the West. At the end of January, central and western China experienced the most violent snowstorms in fifty years. The main theme in the English language state newspaper China Daily was not economic growth or preparations for the Olympic Games, but the daily struggle against the snow. As this occurred just before the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival celebrations, the effects of the extreme weather were dramatised to a national catastrophe. During this period (like Christmas in Germany), hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel home to see their families. Many migrant workers were stranded for days on end – on their only holidays – in the main railway stations because overhead cables and roads were frozen solid. The Chinese President Hu Jintao, a politician who normally avoids the media, made a special trip to the crowded railway stations to show his support. In Beijing, as is normal at this time of year, it had not rained or snowed for several weeks.