Wu Yunlei, daughter of Chinese environmental activist Wu Lihong known for his role in fighting pollution on Taihu Lake in central China, spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service recently about her memories of the lake and her views on the factors linked to environmental destruction:
"I remember when I was a kid, my mother and father often took me to play by the shores of Taihu Lake. We used to fish there and I learned to swim there while I was in primary school. Our school trip one spring was to the shores of Taihu Lake. Since then, I have felt very angry when I think about the pollution in Taihu Lake. There are no words to describe the attitude of the local government, or the things that they have done."
"The blue-green algae blooms [of 2007] resulted in the loss of access to drinking water for two million people in the Wuxi urban area. The government had to order water in from elsewhere, to order clean water, and they didn't even supply it for free to everyone. Local residents had to line up and pay two yuan a bucket for it."
"On a smaller scale, when you buy fish from the street markets, it has a disgusting chemical smell after you cook it. Also, we could smell an evil smell wafting over from Taihu Lake when we were in class, all around the shores of the lake. You could also see dead pigs and sheep floating in the lake. All kinds of [animals]. Basically, this whole area of the lake has turned into a huge rubbish dump."
"I want the government to set strict laws and to use them to protect people. And when everyone's interests have received protection in law, everyone should be brave enough to stand up and speak out. If everyone is brave enough to do that, if everyone pools their resources and energy, we will be able to find ways to deal with the pollution in Taihu Lake. Campaigning over pollution doesn't just mean caring about pollution itself, but also related issues including legislation and not prioritizing ... economic development over everything else. Industrial development can bring economic growth, but there are other ways to make money—developing tourism, for example."
Reported by Xiao Rong for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.