Would you go for a dip in the Pearl River?

To each his own.

The mayor of China’s top manufacturing city is hosting a “swimathon” this summer in the local Pearl River. Cleanup efforts to reverse years of industrial pollution have been so successful, claims mayor Guang Zhangming, that the Pearl is once again safe to swim. To prove it, he plans to don a suit and join the 10,000 other swimmers whom he hopes will take the plunge.

But after looking into the filmy water and smelling its foul wafts, other officials are said to be begging off. Three vice-mayors told a local newspaper that they couldn’t swim.

As with many other environmental catastrophes in China, this one has been “getting better” in recent years but, as the article makes clear, it still has a very, very long way to go.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

Maybe it’s high time for the central government to mandate that an annual swimathon be held in any city with a river and all senior officials take part in. If some of them are too nourished to compete, another option could be “having a bath in the river for at least XXX hours”.

We’ll see how beautiful our rivers become in 2 years.

May 5, 2006 @ 3:19 am | Comment

Wow! I actually agree with you.

May 5, 2006 @ 9:02 am | Comment

The rivers and canals of guangzhou have become remarkable cleaner in the last couple of years. the city has been dredging them for maybe 18 months, and it was a foul smelling, black, oily sludge that was exhumed, decades of toxic waste. I’ve even seen fish there now, and some of the cleaner ones have the makings of a canal ecosystem returning. The difficulty with the canals is that so many businesses, shops and homes still pour raw sewerage and waste in. The canals are perhaps easier to clean as they don’t have the same currents as the main river, which chugs down the effluent from Shaoguan, Qingyuan, Sanshui and other famous polluting cities. though I did see an old guy swimming off Shamian Island a couple of years ago…

May 5, 2006 @ 9:23 am | Comment

i went to a new bar street in beijing a few weeks ago, over near andingmen. there was a canal that ran in front of all the bars. it stank so bad, i wont go back there, despite all the bars having a 30 yuan all you can drink policy. same goes for all my freinds that were there too. it smelled like poo.

May 5, 2006 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

We’re letting CCP officials swim in the Pearl river? I thought the idea was to clean up the pollution.

They’ll probably just dissolve anyway.

May 6, 2006 @ 3:11 am | Comment

so what is the mayor’s point?
That ‘its finally clean enough to swim in so let’s call it a day and stop worrying so much about what they call pollution’.
Or that ‘it’s finally clean enough to swin in so that means we are on the right path – let’s continue’.
Which is it?

May 13, 2006 @ 6:19 am | Comment

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