VIII-13 Question: The transportation of rubbish from developed countries to developing countries is old news. Reports say that China is the largest rubbish dump in the world. Is this true? What measures will China take to stop this?
A: Rubbish from overseas is no longer a new phenomenon for Chinese people, who are quite familiar with old clothes from other countries sold in the 1980s, and the booming second-hand computer processing industry in some coastal towns or villages these years. When China gets recycled waste from abroad, it also faces the possible danger of the transfer of daily rubbish and contaminated material.
Actually, Western countries are capable of processing their trash. But due to the high costs of strict supervision and management in their own countries, some business-minded persons find an easy way to do it--dump the rubbish to developing countries. China is no doubt a victim of these kinds of deals.
Statistics show that of the 500 million tons of poisonous rubbish is produced per year and 4,000 tons of electronic rubbish per hour in the world, the most coming from developed countries. Around 80 percent of the enormous amount of electronic rubbish is exported to Asia, 90 percent of which goes to China. China has been the largest electronic rubbish dump in the world. Chinese workers have to sort out the imported rubbish under poor conditions, and at the same time the disposal process harms China's environment, which is apparently unfair.
In 1991, China joined the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. From then on, the country has promulgated a series of laws and regulations to prevent and crack down on the illegal trading of harmful overseas rubbish. China has also prohibited the import of 11 types of electronic rubbish in April 2000, which includes wasted TV sets, picture tubes, computers and their screens and tubes, printing machines, cameras, video cameras and telephones. But lawbreakers take advantage of loopholes in the law, and continue to transport hazardous rubbish to China. In fact, it has been years since China attempted to close the door on illegal importation of hazardous rubbish, but the effort seems not quite effective.
The Chinese Government is consulting with the EU on ways in which the latter can cooperate in cracking down on illegal cross-border rubbish trading. Laws and regulations on the standards of recyclable wastes have been strengthened in China. The country will also enhance its supervision on the import and processing of overseas waste via the Customs department. At the same time, the Chinese Government has strengthened its crackdown on the illegal import of solid garbage. Besides the 2002 amendment of the Criminal Law of People's Republic of China in which importers of solid garbage were to be punishable by law, other laws were also amended concerning the import of solid contaminated waste, stating that smugglers of solid waste would be fined and forced to transport back the waste or receive punishment.