Chinese Climate Activists Risk Arrest to Strip in Public Protest


Photo via the Guardian

In a rare display of public exhibition, 20 Chinese climate campaigners removed their pants and skirts in protest of their nation's polluting policies. The environmental activists, who had never met in person and had organized the action online, caused a media stir in their homeland. Taking off your pants in public may be tame by US standards (we've got PETA, after all) but it took true courage and some serious guts to do it in China--all 20 were prepared to get arrested. The activists got the idea for the protest from the US group Improv Everywhere, which orchestrates a pants-less subway ride--sans political message--in New York and London. The Chinese activists boarded a subway train in Guangdong, and proceeded to remove their pants and skirts. They knew that the Chinese authorities most often don't take kindly to such displays of 'indecency,' and were willing and expecting to be arrested for their cause.

The Guardian reports on what happened next:

The event, however, attracted far more attention from the media than the security bureau. The TVS1 channel filmed the participants taking off their trousers and skirts. Some, either shy or uneasy about possible repercussions wore sunglasses. Others bore hand-written slogans, "Save the Earth", "So hot" and "Low-carbon life - free and easy" either scrawled on paper or their thighs.

"Of course I feel a little bit shy, after all we are Chinese. But I think it is OK to promote environmental protection in this way," a female participant told reporters.

Environmental issues have been coming to the fore in Chinese culture with greater and greater frequency--thousands of protests have occurred over polluting power plants, contaminated lakes, and workers' health from smog-infested air. Riots have broken out on occasion.

Which is why I think it's great that China's youth is beginning to step up their activism in an attention-grabbing, peaceful manner. And while climate issues haven't been a main focus of environmentalist rallies, they are gaining traction, according to the Guardian: "Given the dire state of the air and water, climate change has been a more distant concern until recently. But melting glaciers and worsening droughts and floods have brought home the risks of inaction."

So here's a big ol' TreeHugger salute to the 20 brave young men and women in Guangdong for having the moxie to take their pants off for the climate.

More on Climate Issues and China
China's Climate Red Phone Has Two Lines: U.S. and Developing World
China and the U.S. Could Fix Climate -- If Leaders Let Them
Is China , Once Climate Scapegoat, Now Our "Sputnik"?

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