By KELVINÂ KACHINGWE
IT is an area in which the Chinese have not had a particularly good record, particularly in the west.
When it comes to the issue of the environment, the press has mostly been bad for China.
Last year, The Economist published a story titled China and the environment: The East is Grey in which it argued that China is the worldâ€™s worst polluter despite being the largest investor in green energy. It said its rise will have as big an impact on the environment as on the world economy or politics.
â€œAll industrial nations one day hit an environmental turning-point, an event that dramatises to the population the ecological consequences of growth. Is this Chinaâ€™s turning-point? A study released by Americaâ€™s National Academy of Sciences found that air pollution in the north of China reduces life expectancy by five-and-a-half years. The rivers are filthy, the soil contaminated. The government has long known this and attempted to clean things up. Yet still the smog comes,â€ the article reads.
â€œAnd there is something else in the air, less immediately damaging but with a far bigger global impact. Chinaâ€™s greenhouse-gas emissions were about 10 percent of the worldâ€™s total in 1990. Now they are nearer 30 percent. Since 2000, China alone has accounted for two-thirds of the global growth in carbon-dioxide emissions. This will be very hard to reverse. While America and Europe are cutting their emissions by 60m tonnes a year combined, China is increasing its own by over 500m tonnes. This makes it a unique global threat.
â€œNonsense, say Chinese officials. China is not responsible for the build-up of greenhouse gases. The West is. There are environmental problems, true, but China is simply following a pattern set by Britain, America and Japan: â€˜grow first, clean up laterâ€™. China grew unusually fast but it is now cleaning up unusually fast, too.â€
In Zambia equally, the Chinese have faced bad press regarding pollution.
One of these is Collum Coal Mine in Sinazongwe.
In the decade since the Chinese took over the coal deposits in the tiny village of Sinazeze from the Zambian government in 2000 and then built Collum Coal Mine, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) issued several citations to Collum for severe air pollution and for contaminating water sources that served nearby communities.
But amid all the bad press, there is one Chinese who is proving to be deeply concerned about the environment – the Zambian environment for that matter.
Zou Ling, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, has just formed the Culture and Environment Protection Organisation (COPE), which will focus on environmental protection and promotion of the cultural heritage in the country.
The organisation, which is already involved in the planting of trees in various communities across the country, was launched recently in Lusaka at former President Kenneth Kaundaâ€™s residence where he was also officially unveiled as the honorary chairperson.
â€As we all know, Zambia is well-known in the world for its unique scenery, a variety of animal species and numerous plant resources. There are several world-class famous attractions such as the Victoria Falls, Zambezi River and Kafue National Park, which receive a large number of visitors from all over the world. It also has a rich history and traditions, there are approximately 72 ethnic groups and the number of languages is very high.
â€œHowever, with the development of economic activities, the acceleration of modernisation and urbanisation, the natural environment is being destroyed in Zambia, the forest is reducing, and pollution is aggravating. At the same time, Zambiaâ€™s traditional culture is also gradually fading away. There are a good number of people, especially the youth, who donâ€™t understand the traditional language and history,â€ Mr Zou says.
He regards Zambia as his home and feels the obligation to take care of it.
â€œItâ€™s time that some measures are taken to protect our environment and culture. COPE, as an organisation registered in Zambia, will concentrate in the areas where culture is in danger of fading away and where the environment isnâ€™t being taken care of. It will offer environmental and cultural education to the people. This isnâ€™t just for us but future generations as well,â€ he says.
Other than Dr Kaunda as the honorary chairperson, COPE is seeking to work closely with chiefs. At its launch, several chiefs who include Senior Chief Mukuni, Senior Chief Puta, Senior Chief Chiwala, Chief Chipepo, Chief Chikanta, Chief Chamuka, Chief Simamba and Chief Munukwa, were in attendance as members of the organisation.
Mr Zou, aged 48, has an interesting life history.
A member of Chinaâ€™s Communist Party, he is said to have been born in a poor family which for generations was involved in farming in the Dagang district.
At the age of 18, he joined the army and at the end of his military service in 1989, he started work in the local authority.
Later, he started his own small business. Within a decade, Mr Zou had rapidly grown into an outstanding young entrepreneur. His little known company became a large-scale enterprise with interests in petrochemical developments, real estate and mineral resources.
â€œThe wealth of business is also the wealth of the nation, and is also the wealth of the people. The growth of enterprise canâ€™t forget the growth of the support of the nation and people and thus, the enterprise should take more social responsibility to allow more people to share business responsibility results,â€ Mr Zou, who is one of the Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons of Tianjin city, member of the standing committee of China Youth Federation, and chairperson and general secretary of Tianjin Teda Landun Group Development Company Ltd and ZRHL Group Ltd, says.
Tianjin Teda, a comprehensive listing of companies registered with a capital of US$ 237, 995, 782 had by the end of the third quarter of 2013, total assets of US$ 3 billion and net assets of US$ 0.3 billion.
Its current major investments includes oil storage trade, environmental protection industry, clean materials industry, finance equity investments and owns 10 holding subsidiaries, 16 joint stock companies and is an indirect holding company of more than 40.
On the other hand, ZRHL Group Ltd, with its professional and international management team, runs diversified businesses in China covering petrochemical, new energy development, real estate, computer and electronic technology, import and export trade.
That is the man who is out to promote and protect Zambiaâ€™s cultural heritage and environment.
By KELVINÂ KACHINGWE