Voices from China

Weibo Watch: Issue 4

(September 12, 2011) This week on Weibo Watch: controversy brews over a beer company’s plans to trek through a fragile nature reserve.

August 25 to 27: China Resources Snow Breweries, a company seeking fame and fortune (and higher sales of its Snow Beer) has a catchy promotion to take trekkers to the wildest regions of China. The company is now recruiting a team for its Global Trekker expedition to Kekexili, a nature reserve on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau that is sparsely populated and home to the endangered Tibetan antelope and other protected animals. In its quest to go wild, Snow Breweries may have gone too far. On August 25, environmental activist and Kekexili protector, Wu Zhu, gave a speech to the Beijing-based environmental organization, Green Beagle, attended by representatives from Snow Breweries. Wu Zhu introduced the history of environmental destruction and protection in Kekexili, and urged the audience to protect the region. (For information on Tibetan antelope poaching and protectors, see this.)

On August 27, Wu Zhu posted on his Weibo account @吴柱的微博: “At two meetings on August 25 with the Snow Breweries, we took a clear stand against the company entering the Kekexili natural reserve zone. We requested that Snow Breweries publish their route as soon as possible. The company showed their willingness to listen to different opinions. For that reason, I call on netizens who are concerned about protecting Kekexili to express their opinions to Snow Breweries about its planned trek across the region. Please, support Kekexili.” #我给雪花提意见# 25日与雪花公司两次会面中,我们已经明确表达了立场,反对雪花进入可可西里保护区,敬请雪花尽早公布活动路线,雪花也表示愿意听取各方的意见,因此,我呼吁关注可可西里的网友,让我们一起给力可可西里,针对雪花穿越可可西里一事,请你也给雪花提提意见!@雪花啤酒勇闯天涯

The general director of North Asian District of the Nature Conservancy Zhang Xingsheng @张醒生 responded: “Since the ecology of Kekexili is vulnerable, and as an “Honorary Defender of the Kekexili Tibetan Antelope,” I never enter the Kekexili district. Aside from scientific researchers and habitat protection experts, commercial people please step aside!” 可可西里生态环境极为脆弱,我做为"可可西里藏羚羊保护荣誉卫士"都从来不进去!除科研和保护人员外,商业请退!

Netizen @光芒多多 said: “Good long term commercial development requires environmental protection as a priority. If Snow Breweries doesn’t take it into account or destroys the environment, we can start a campaign against Snow Beer.” 要想商业活动长期良性发展,请环保先行!如果雪花不注重此事或者对环境造成破坏,我们可以发起抵制雪花啤酒的活动!

Netizen @欧丁odin commented: “So many experts think it is improper to go to Kekexili because its environment is vulnerable. Snow Breweries should consider their plan carefully. Don’t consider Kekexili as a destination for the Global Trekker expedition. Being the first to cross Kekexili, or to make mistakes will have serious consequences. Kekexili belongs to all people.” 那么多的专家和关注者认为不适合去生态已很脆弱的可可西里,雪花应该谨慎考虑,不该把这里当作要去创的当天涯,开了先例或者处置不甚,那后果就严重了,这是大家的可可西里 @雪花啤酒勇闯天涯

Green Beagle co-founder Feng Yongfeng @冯永锋 said: “Ok, my first suggestion is that we organize a seminar in ten days and invite environmentalists who are familiar with Kekexili to attend. My second suggestion is that Snow Breweries arrange for a volunteer who has worked in Kekexili to be their guide or interpreter.”  好啊,我的第一条建议就是在十天之内,举办一场由多位熟悉可可西里的环保人士参与的研讨会。第二条建议是希望雪花的活动能够安排一位曾经的可可西里志愿者做向导或者讲解员。

Several days later, Feng Yongfeng @冯永锋 replied to Wu Zhu: “They don’t plan to start their crossing until October. So, there is time. But the company has refused to organize a seminar using the excuse that there isn’t enough time. This is obviously prevarication. The company doesn’t want to take responsibility. Therefore we should help Snow to take responsibility.” 回复@吴柱的微博:他们10月份才出发,因此,有大把的时间。说时间不够,无法组织讨论会,显然是在推诿。雪花不想负责任,我们就帮他负起责任来。

Netizen @古格遗子 wondered: “…One question is whether the crossing is lawful. Do they have all the permission papers? The second question is, even if the crossing is lawful, we should examine the route they will use to cross the region, and consider whether it will seriously harm the environment. This needs a professional’s assessment. Maybe Snow Breweries wanted to get sensational coverage and then cancel their plan in order to promote an image of concern for the public interest…”

Meanwhile, @古格遗子 shared a piece of information with several environmentalists on his Weibo account: “according to the People’s Republic of China’s Natural Reservation Zone Administration Regulation, if Snow Breweries enters the reserve zone illegally, it will be fined ¥5,000 at most, ¥100 at least. I don’t know if there is another law that could be used to hold Snow Breweries accountable.” http://t.cn/auqDeA @山鸟协会 @穿越无人区 @冯永锋 @王平年 @党鹏:所以我是建议,针对雪山的行为:一是问其是否合法进入?手续是否齐全。二是即使合法,我们也可关注其进入的线路是否破坏性很大,这需要有专业人士评估。或许雪花还巴不得炒出这个话题,最后决定撤销活动,广告宣传,其公益形象倍增……按照中华人民共和国自然保护区管理条例 第三十四条规定:雪花如果非法进入保护区,最高只能罚款5000元,最低100元。不知道有否其它法规配套使用 http://t.cn/auqDeA

Yangyong @中国河流杨勇, the director of Hengduan Mountains Association, a Guizhou-based NGO, commented: “These kinds of activities are becoming more and more common, and will continue into the future. Our government departments should introduce regulations to manage them. Global Trekker has been organized for several years. It should introduce social responsibility and environmental standards in order to be a model for others.” 当下和未来这种活动越来越多,国家有关部门应出台相应法规并进行管理,雪花勇闯天涯已进行多年,更应该注入企业社会责任和环保理念,做出表率

Wu Zhu called Caidanzhou, the Kekexili Administration Bureau Chief, and discovered that Snow Breweries got permission to cross Kekexili after it donated money to the Kekexili Administration Bureau. Several sources show that the company planned to cross the core prohibited area in Kekexili. Netizen @薇若妮卡vv commented: “This issue is more about the management of Kekexili Reserve Zone. The Snow Breweries crossing is just one case. Targeting Snow Breweries this time may prevent harm. But there are many other cases, hiding from the public, when money is spent to buy the right to cross Kekexili.” 这个更关乎可可西里保护区一直的管理问题,雪花只是其一,揪住雪花只是阻止这一次,还有很多其他没有张扬的,花钱买的穿越权利……

It is true. Wu Zhu discovered other reports, released August 24 and August 31 in the Shandong-based newspaper Qilu Evening Post: the first report said that a Kanghui travel agent was organizing a Kekexili mega-environmental protection public welfare activity; the later report said the activity was being organized by the Kanghui travel agent and the China Science Exploration Association. They were recruiting volunteer photographers in the newspaper. 24日齐鲁晚报报道是康辉一家组织的,31日的报道就是:由济南康辉国际旅行社、可可西里国家自然保护局和中国科学探险学会共同推出了可可西里大型环保公益行活动,现向社会招募摄影志愿者。

According to a National Business Daily report, illegal gold panning and numerous crossings are occurring regularly in Kekexili. The Kekexili Administration Bureau Chief responds in the report that they have done a lot of work to protect the environment, but they can’t guarantee that more crossings won’t happen in future.

Wu Zhu has started a campaign on Weibo to disseminate information about the true state of goings-on in Kekexili. And public pressure on Snow Breweries had an effect. After the trek route was leaked online, the company’s manager, Mao Xiaojun, denied it was correct and likely chose a less environmentally damaging route. But – as with many other threats to social security – the biggest obstacle to environmental protection is the opaque and ineffective bureaucracy that does not uphold its duty to protect.

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