China Considers Pollution Data a State Secret, Canada Agrees

A post on Global Voices* today says that "China Considers Pollution Data a State Secret".
"China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has rejected a Chinese lawyer's request for the details of a national survey on soil protection after deeming the information a state secret. The public and media are now pressing the Ministry to reverse its decision."

I don't find this surprising given China's attitudes toward censorship but I do find it interesting because Canada (about to sign a major trade deal with China) has a very similar policy. The Canadian government doesn't come right out and say pollution data is a 'state secret' but the results are eerily similar.
"It takes a lot to make scientists — a group used to being unappreciated — angry in public. Two things have fueled their indignation: severe and targeted cutbacks on government research programs and new rules limiting the ability of journalists to talk to government scientists.

On the first front, omnibus budget bills have imposed layoffs and severe cuts to the monitoring of waterways, fisheries and natural resource projects. In addition, the Harper government has shut down critical evidence-gathering systems like Statistics Canada’s mandatory long-form census, the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the First Nations Statistical Institute, and Canada’s ozone monitoring network. And they terminated centres of scientific policy advice from the National Science Advisor, and National Round Table on Environment and Economy.

The second grievance of the protesting scientists was the degree to which they have been muzzled by a government obsessed with message control. Beginning in 2007 the Harper administration brought in new communications guidelines. Scientists were required to submit media interview requests to the Privy Council in Ottawa and then wait, sometimes for weeks, before being told they would not be given approval to speak."

* If you haven't added Global Voices to your daily news feeds, you definitely should.
"Global Voices is a community of more than 700 authors and 600 translators around the world who work together to bring you reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media."

The site delivers news and opinion from people on the ground in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, places where the Western Press tends to offer thin coverage. They also recently added former director and current Wikipedia Executive Director Sue Gardner to the board of directors.
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