Mar. 23, 2023

The tragedy of China's environmental hero

Zhang Zhengxiang was recently celebrated in a video-feature promoting China to a foreign audience. A lot of people said that Zhang Zhengxiang was crazy for going to such lengths to fight for Yunnan's environment, but you really would have to be crazy to make the sacrifices he did. Abandoned by his first  and wife and three children, Zhang continued his fight to protect Yunnan's lakes and west mountains, spending all his spare time searching for evidence of environmental abuse and presenting the evidence to local government and the media. Zhang's second marriage also fell apart under the strain.

Zhang paid a big cost, sacrificing a happy for family life for the greater social good. Ordinary people shouldn't have to pay such a price for protecting the environment. Clearly, it is the local government which has responsibility for protecting the lakes, that's what the tax money they collect should be spent on. Though I respect Zhang Zhengxiang's spirit of persistence, I don't agree with his methods. He received an award for 'inspiring China', but he never inspired the people of Yunnan, because despite his efforts the environment in Yunnan continued to be damaged. China's environment can only be protected with the vigilance of all citizens on the government, and not through the efforts individual citizens, however heroic or crazy.

Hong QiaoJun is a blogger on


Compiled by Tom Hancock

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