Taizhou. It’s a city on China’s eastern seaboard, not far from Hangzhou.
It’s renowned for fruit growing and auto-manufacturing. Geely – its English name is a homonym of it’s Chinese name吉利; Jílì, which means lucky – is an automobile company which is a classic example of an extremely successful company founded by a private individual with family-borrowed money in the wake of Deng Xiao Ping’s “get rick quick” opening up of China in the 1980s.
Jílì indeed became so lucky that in 2009 it was named by Ford Motor as the preferred buyer for it’s prestigious brand Volvo. In 2010, Geely took over Volvo, and thought whilst Volvo retains independent operation, it’s owned by Geely.
Apart from it’s citrus fruit and it’s famous automobiles, Taizhou is becoming renowned for one other thing.
Six companies that were discharging chemical pollutants into the nearby waterways of Jiangsu, were fined at the tail end of 2014.
It all started with a citizen’s group. The Taizhou City Environmental Protection organization filed a lawsuit, and provincial officials began an investigation.
The equivalent of approximately $26 million that the companies were ordered to pay, makes this the largest payout against polluters in China to date.
The case was won under environmental protection laws, which have recently been reinforced.
As of January 1st, 2015, the environmental protection laws have been strengthened, with greater fines, which now can increase daily until the polluter complies with legal orders. There is now a provision for company executives who cause pollution to be detained for up to 15 days, and officials found covering up for polluters can be fined, demoted, or fired.
It seems China is very serious about curbing the rampant pollution and environmental degradation taking place inside its borders.
Photograph of Li Shufu and Lewis Booth taken from China Daily online.
Photograph of Taizhou taken from http://english.cri.cn/index.htm