Pollution apology fails to calm public anger

By Tan Zongyang

BEIJING/HARBIN - Harbin Pharmaceutical Group, one of China's biggest drug manufacturers, made a public apology on Saturday for the severe pollution caused by its Harbin factories.

"The group would like to accept any penalties for our wrongdoing to the local environment," Wu Zhijun, head and representative of the group, said in a public letter of apology over the weekend.

The group and its management team took "unshirkable" responsibility for the damage to the environment, Wu said, admitting the pollution had harmful effects on the residents living near the factories.

However, the apology did little to calm the anger of local residents. "The apology is a cliche - nothing more than a show to calm the public," said Tian Jiawei, a senior doctor at the No 2 Hospital affiliated to Harbin Medical University, which stands beside the factories.

Tian, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said she has witnessed how the air in the community, where there are now four universities, a hospital and several residential compounds, has grown increasingly polluted.

"The pungent smell of the waste gas would even wake people up at night," she said.

Tian said the factories started to emit more toxic waste in the last decade as they increased their output without controlling waste emissions.

Tian, who is also a political consultative committee member of Heilongjiang province, submitted motions to the local government three times.

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