Rich Chinese offer cash to swim in dirty waters


The state of China’s polluted rivers is not just an issue for environmental activists. All over the country, local entrepreneurs are pushing for a better clean-up of the rivers.

Earlier this week, Jin Zengmin, a businessman in wealthy Zhejiang province in eastern China, angry about the scummy waterway in Rui’an city, posted pictures on his microblog of the rubbish-filled river.

He said a rubber shoe factory had been dumping waste water into the river, and that the area had an exceptionally high cancer rate. “I will donate 200,000 yuan (€21,000) if the head of our local environmental protection bureau dares to swim in this polluted river for 20 minutes,” said Mr Jin. It was not revealed if Bao Zhenming took up the challenge.

Inspired by this, businessman Xiao Gongjun in the industrial belt of Dongguan, Guangdong province, offered 100,000 yuan (€10,500) to the head of the local environmental protection bureau to swim in the filthy Hanxi river for 10 minutes.

A day later, another netizen offered 300,000 yuan (€36,000) inviting the director of the environmental protection bureau in nearby Cangnan county to swim for 30 minutes in a river covered with oil and rubbish.

Over the five years to 2010, China spent 700 billion yuan (€85 billion) on water infrastructure, but much of its water remains undrinkable.