I am back from China where I led an environmental field trip with Professor Zhao Huiyu of Shanghai Jiatong University School of Law from August 3-15. It was a terrific trip with lots of in-depth meetings with people who are playing important roles in shaping Chinese environmental policy. We arrived in Beijing on the afternoon of August 4, visited “snack street,” and had a Beijing duck dinner that night. On the morning of August 5 we visited the Beijing offices of the Environmental Defense Fund where Qin Hu gave us a great presentation. After visiting the Lama (Yonghe) Temple, we spent the afternoon at the offices of the Natural Resources Defense Council. We discussed some of the exciting changes in Chinese environmental law with their office director Qian Jingjing and Qi Yu, director of their environmental governance project. After visiting the Forbidden City in the morning, we spent the afternoon of August 6 at the Center for Legal Assistance for Pollution Victims (CLAPV). Wang Canfa, CLAPV director, was in England where he has been serving as a visiting professor, but we had a great discussion with Dai Renhui and Liu Xiang.
On Thursday August 7 we visited the Great Wall at Mutianyu. We took a tram to the top of the wall and then hiked along it before taking “tobaggans” down to the base. On the way back from the Great Wall our driver dropped us at the Beijing Airport to catch a flight to Shanghai. Professor Zhao Huiyu was waiting for us at Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. At 6:30AM the next morning we headed to Chongming Island where we visited the incredible Dongtan wetland area, about two hours north of Shanghai. Geng Zhizhong, director of the protected area, gave us a tour of the wetland, which is an important stop for migratory birds traveling from Australia and New Zealand to SIberia and Alaska. Following the tour we had a meeting with lawyers discussing draft legislation to improve protection of the area. Geng Zhizhong showing us the video monitoring room where volunteers help protect the wetland area against poachers by watching cameras that can detect trespassers. We visited the Yinzhou Ancient Town on Chongming Island before returning to Shanghai.
On Monday August 11 we spent the morning meeting with officials from the Minghang Environmental Protection Board in the western part of Shanghai. We had a very candid discussion with them concerning the difficulties confronting efforts to enforce China’s environmental laws given the highly decentralized nature of China’s legal system. On the afternoon of August 11 we took a high-speed train to Nanjing. On August 12 we spent the morning visiting the law firm of Mr. Liu, the first public interest lawyer in Jiangsu Province who is now the chair of the environmental and natural resources section of the Jiangsu Bar. From his law firm, Mr. Liu took us to a museum honoring John Rabe, the German who saved many Chinese during the Nanjing Massacre, and then hosted a luncheon banquet for us. In the afternoon we visited Green Stone, a small NGO founded by university students Wu Yunli and Li Chunhua that seeks to involve young people in environmental protection efforts. After a night of karaoke in Nanjing, we returned to Shanghai on August 13.
Selected photos of the trip have been placed in the “Photo Albums” section of my parallel blog at: http://www.globalenvironmentallaw.com. On that blog just click on “Photo Albums” at the top of the page and then “VLS China 2014”.