Chinese state media revived a quote by a Chinese Communist Party official on Sunday equating pollution with the “basic human right” of development, arguing that urging China to remedy its status as the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitter was a violation of the rights of Chinese citizens.
The Global Times, a Chinese government propaganda outlet, claimed that “netizens,” or users of Chinese social media whose opinions the government does not censor, were circulating a remark by Chinese lawmaker and scientist Ding Zhongli alleging that urging China to limit its polluting behavior was akin to denying the humanity of Chinese people.
“I want to ask: Are Chinese humans? That’s a fundamental question,” Ding once said, according to the Times. “I see the right to emit as a right to development, which is a basic human right.”
Ding’s argument, as the Times interpreted it, was that polluting the earth was a “basic human right” of Chinese people, as developed nations in the West had engaged in the use of fossil fuels and other environmentally compromising activities for over a century following the Industrial Revolution and not met with criticism.