So, people: what do we think about installing a giant waste incinerator on the local cabbage patch? You have three options:
even more strongly approve!
why are you giving me toothpaste?
Caixin has a good story on China's 'cottage industry' in fraudulent consultation which seems to be mainly clustered around approval for environmental projects. This is firstly significant gioven the role of environmental issues in driving mass incidents in various places; and it also illustrates in a complementary fashion the sheer weakness of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
You'd expect an industry whose role is to prevent both industries and localities from making money to be institutionally hobbled in China. What emerges here - and assuming a certain norm of corruption - is that it's too weak to extract rents, at least not directly. Instead, we have a sub-economy around the process of approval: the approvals themselves are a given (this isn't to say that all polluting economic projects get the go ahead, but it does indicate that they would tend to be stopped when they run against more powerful interests than MEP). With more vigorous leadership, and because of the link between pollutiong industries and public disturbances, the MEP could have lobbied its way into the stability management budget. Instead, it seems to be the only ministry in China actually not worth bribing.
The other way in which this is significant is because, in China's ongoing invention of a conservative theory of permanent dictatorship, consultation of this sort is supposed to substitute for democratic accountability. I guess that's kind of low priority too. via.