A chronology of public participation in China’s sustainable development

*  January 18, 1994: Gisang Sonam Dorje, first secretary of the Western Committee of Zhiduo in Qinghai – set up to protect the Tibetan antelope – is shot and killed while transporting captured poachers. Inspired by his martyrdom, in April the next year Zhaba Dorje re-establishes the committee. Their armed anti-poaching team is known as the Wild Yak Brigade.*  March 31, 1994: Friends of Nature, a nationwide membership organisation, is officially launched by Liang Congjie, Yang Dongping, Liang Xiaoyan and Wang Lixiong.*  1995: Xi Zhinong exposes the destruction of natural forests in Deqin, Yunnan province, which is endangering the survival of the snub-nosed monkey. The story is picked up by a number of media outlets, as well as Friends of Nature. Eventually commercial felling in Deqin is halted.*  2003: Green Earth Volunteers and other environmental NGOs launch a public campaign against hydropower development on the Nu River. In 2004, premier Wen Jiabao announces the shelving of development plans.*  September 1, 2003: the Environmental Impact Assessment Law comes into effect; the first time public participation is a required part of environmental assessment reports.*  April 2004: the State Council issues guidelines on administration in accordance with the law, stressing government by rule of law and putting forward “the promotion of openness of government information” and “administrative policy-decision mechanisms combining public participation, expert testimony and government decisions.”*  June 5, 2004, the Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology is formed, funded by around 100 well-known Chinese business figures.*  March 2005: the media reveals that managers of the Old Summer Palace have drained the lake and are planning to lay an impermeable membrane without carrying out an environmental impact assessment, stirring public anger. The State Environmental Protection Agency (predecessor to the Ministry of Environmental Protection) holds China’s first public environmental hearing and ultimately orders changes to the project.*  March 18, 2006: the former State Environmental Protection Bureau publishes rules on public participation in the environmental impact assessment process, and says the public are entitled to obtain abridged versions of the reports.*  May 2006: the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) is founded in Beijing, with former journalist and environmental consultant Ma Jun as director and core founder. The organisation launches a pioneering map of water pollution.*  June 1, 2007: thousands of Xiamen residents take to the streets for a “mass stroll” in protest at plans to build a PX chemical plant in the city. On December 16, the provincial and city governments give in to public opinion and relocate the project to Zhangzhou.*  May 1, 2008: regulations on openness of government information and environmental data unveiled in April 2007 come into effect. The rules say openness should be the normal state of affairs, and secrecy the exception.*  July 7, 2009: the All-China Environment Federation case against Jiangyin Container Company is accepted at Wuxi Environmental Court, the first time an NGO has brought an environmental case in the public interest.*  August 2009: China’s largest internet portal Sina launches its microblogging service, and with it an era of public participation via microblogs and other social media. By the end of 2011 China has 250 million microblog users.*  October 24, 2011: a draft revision of the Civil Procedure Law is submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for first consideration. The draft includes articles allowing for social groups not directly affected by a case to bring public interest environmental lawsuits. *  March 2012: the State Council approves a revised standard for air quality, including PM2.5 measurements, to be implemented in stages. In response to public demands, it is announced PM2.5 data from certain areas will be published four years ahead of the earlier timetable.