Answer to a beautiful China found in minister's "magic notes"?

The last press conference of the 12th National People’s Congress was held with the theme of environmental protection and ecological civilization in Beijing on the afternoon of March 15. Hordes of reporters swarmed the NPC press center hungry for answers to China’s pressing environmental issues only to find that the line-toeing Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection had almost all his responses ready in his “magic notes” from which he read most of his answers.

Wu Xiaoqing, Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection speaks from his "magic notes" at the last press conference of the 12th NPC. Photo:

Beautiful China, a concept first came up in last year’s 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was mentioned early on in the press conference when Wu Xiaoqing, Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection spoke about the government’s response measures to deal with China’s air pollution. For the first time, a high-ranking Chinese official publicly admitted that China’s environment is paying the price for its extensive economic growth. 

Wu promised enhanced efforts of pollutants control and supervision as well as amending the current Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution, in order to improve China’s worsening air quality. According to Wu, in the worst case, one city (unnamed) suffered over 200 days of smog in the past year. “Blue sky is an important index of Beautiful China, which will be returned to the people through concerted and concrete efforts.” said Wu.

Xi Jinping’s recent remark “The standard that Internet users apply for lake water quality is whether the mayor dares to jump in and swim” was quoted by a reporter to ask Wu’s opinion of this “standard” and whether he himself would dare to try it out on behalf of the Chinese netizens. Wu artfully directed his answer back to his “magic notes” and gave a textbook answer of “law-upholding and measure-implementing”, much to the disappointment of the reporters.

The 75-minute-long press conference was largely a note-reading on the part of the minister which did not quench the thirst of the press for a clear and to-the-point official response to China’s fast-deteriorating environment which has incensed the Chinese public and roused international concern. 

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