Four years after being released from prison, Chinese environmental activist Wu Lihong continues to speak out about pollution in Lake Tai, despite government monitoring.
In a recent video interview with the New York Times, Wu said he will not be silenced.
Wu began sounding the alarm about industrial pollution in Lake Tai, a large freshwater lake near Shanghai, in the mid-1990s. However, in 2007 he was arrested and charged with blackmail. Just before his trial, there was a huge algae bloom in the lake and officials had to cut off water supply to residents of nearby Wuxi.
Pollution is still rampant in Lake Tai. As previously reported by Planet Experts, the Lake Tai region is home to nearly 3,000 factories that pollute the lake.
Industrial waste is harming not just the lake, but also the surrounding soil. A special report in Yale’s Environment 360 said that many farmers that live in the villages around Lake Tai have stopped eating their own food because the soil is so polluted with cadmium, lead and mercury. Even the government now admits there is a problem: a recent Chinese government study on soil pollution found that 16.1 percent of China’s soil and 19.4 percent of the country’s farmland is polluted.
Wu, who lives in Zhoutie, a village on Lake Tai, says that police monitor his cellphone and that he cannot travel beyond his township of Yinxing. Earlier this year, however, he managed to make it to Beijing for the National People’s Congress, the annual session of China’s Parliament, where he planned to petition officials to take action on cleaning up Lake Tai.
Instead, police officers detained and escorted him home by train before he could make his case.
During the very same National People’s Congress from which Wu was barred, China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang declared a “war on pollution.”
China has been making a number of public statements in support of environmental initiatives, including its recent agreement with the US on limiting carbon emissions. Even still, the country does not seem keen on its own individual citizens who dare to speak out against industrial pollution.