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Journalist and Environment Crusader
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Zhao Yongxin, 36, a People's Daily staff reporter for the Education, Science and Culture Section, and winner of the sixth Earth Award, has written countless articles on environmental protection. More important, he was responsible for the exposé on the illegal construction project at Beijing's Yuanmingyuan Park (also known as the Old Summer Palace) in 2005.


Zhao started on the environment beat in 1998, and has since written more than 1,000 articles on the subject. In September 2004, he spearheaded the "Shouwang Jiayuan" column ("Watching Our Home").


His reports are highly regarded by leaders and government departments responsible for the environmental issues, and are able to arouse government attention.


In 2000, he wrote an article exposing environmentally unsound construction work taking place at Beijing's Miyun Reservoir. Cement was being laid into drinking water channels. As a result of his article, the government stepped in to forbid similar work.


In 2004, he reported on the situation in Dandong, Liaoning Province, where local authorities had prohibited the use of solar water heaters. The report aroused so much public attention that authorities were compelled to hold a special conference to discuss the issue. Eventually, a decision was reached allowing the use of the heaters. In fact, Dandong became the model city for solar water heaters as a result.


Commenting on the media attention that he's received, Zhao said: "I'm not important enough to write about. People like Liang Congjie and Wang Canfa (other winners of the prize) are more worthy. They have done many valuable things for the environment."


He stressed that he understands the responsibility he has to the public as a journalist who reports on environmental issues. "But, I only do what I have to. There are better journalists out there. I won only because of the Yuanmingyuan issue, which was a big one," Zhao said modestly.


Zhao is a member of the association Friends of Nature, and, by his own admission, saves every drop of water and every kilowatt-hour of electricity. Still, he says that isn't enough.


He pointed out the unfortunate situation that many people have actually grown accustomed to living in a polluted environment. Winning the prize, however, will only encourage him further to increase public awareness of the need to protect the environment. 


( by Zhou Jing, February 20, 2006)

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