ZHOU Jinfeng on Shenzhen Bay Waterway Dredging Project (Phase I): Stopped the Tourism Development Project and Urged Gov to Hold EIA Scandal Accountable
2022/2/25 11:49:00 本站

On March 3, 2021, the Shenzhen government online released the "Public Participation Notice for the Draft Environmental Impact Report on Shenzhen Bay Waterway Dredging Project (Phase I)" from the Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Transportation.

According to its plan, due to the "sea to see Shenzhen" cruise tourism project needs, it’s expected to open a 120-meter-wide waterway in Shenzhen Bay, the bottom mark -3.1 meters of the channel.

Zhou Jinfeng opened the 379-page EIA and read and analyzed it very carefully.

Zhou Jinfeng believes that Shenzhen as a southern coastal city, mudflats wetlands, mangroves, etc. are important ecosystems, but also the home of migratory birds. What surprised him was that the entire EIA report, however, does not assess the impact of the project on the waterbirds wintering in Shenzhen Bay.


In terms of ecological function, the coastal wetland designed for this project is very important. It is surrounded by a series of ecologically critical areas such as Futian Mangrove Ecological Park, Mai Po Nature Reserve, La Samur Wetland of International Importance, Hong Kong Wetland Park, etc., and in its southwest it is adjacent to the Pearl River Estuary Chinese White Dolphin Nature Reserve. Zhou believes the dredging will lead to the destruction of benthic organisms, bring about the destruction of migratory bird habitat, and will also destroy the mangrove and other ecosystems.

What's more ironically, Zhou found that there're a lot of other city's names in this report! Obviously, a significant part of this EIA was copied and pasted from other EIA reports. There was a lack on real survey and serious scientific research.

However, the conclusion of this EIA report is: "The main evaluation concluded that the Shenzhen Bay Channel Dredging Project (Phase I) is conducive to enhancing the passing capacity of the existing channel, "See Shenzhen by the Sea" ---The special channel project is important for developing a new tourism card for Shenzhen, promoting the sharing of the fruits of marine development for all people, shaping Shenzhen Marine culture brand, the construction of China's global maritime center city, so as to enhance the image of Shenzhen modern international coastal city, and serve “the Belt and Road Initiative”. From the perspective of environmental protection, the construction of Shenzhen Bay Channel Dredging Project (Phase I) is feasible. (Page 4 of the EIA report)

As Zhou says, mangroves are very precious ecosystems. This project involves several ecological red lines and marine sensitive ecological zones. Therefore, this EIA report endorses a wrong project that will lead to very serious destructions to bird habitats in coastal wetlands and wildlife’s food chain. Moreover, if the project is implemented as the EIA suggested, then the birds will be affected by oil, noise and light pollution during the operation of the busy incoming and outgoing tourist cruises. Ironically, the EIA for this project does not mention that the project will destroy the ecological red line at all, nor does it give any suggestions about any bird protection measures.

Zhou Jinfeng immediately spoke out and publicly condemned it. Even though he was facing the largest marine research institution in China – to safeguard public interests, Zhou Jinfeng still decided to challenge it publicly. He calls people to join the movement to watch the EIA system. Plus, he wrote an official letter to China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, asking thorough investigation on this what he called as "potential environmental crime" because this project will heavily impact environmental public interests.

Concrete Achievements

(1) It’s a milestone for China’s environmental governance.

Community members and grassroots were mobilized. The EIA draft report was first published on the Shenzhen Governmental website. Jinfeng was among the first public who found the falsification in March 2021. And shortly after, he called for volunteers to see and to record the then-current situation of the Shenzhen Bay, to join the movement to urge thorough investigation on the scandal.

The final result: project cancelled, EIA institution and experts heavily published and blacklisted, and Chinese government issued a new policy strengthening EIA.

(2) On May 18, 2020, the Shenzhen Ecological Environment Bureau banned the person in charge of writing the EIA for five years and gave him 20 points for breach of trust because of the serious quality problems in the "Shenzhen Bay Channel Dredging Project (Phase I) Environmental Impact Report (Draft for Review)" prepared by the Shenzhen Ecological Environment Bureau. On June 5, 2020, this person was directly recorded as a restricted score due to the loss of credit points, and the credit platform from that date to June 4, 2025, he was included in the "blacklist", and the relevant information will be recorded in his integrity file.

(3) On December 23, 2021, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment held a regular press conference in December. The spokesman of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Mr. Liu Youbin, presided over the press conference, informed the recent progress of key work related to ecological environmental protection, and jointly answered questions from reporters. In answering reporters' questions, Mr. Liu Youbin used the "Shenzhen Bay Channel Dredging Project EIA Report Plagiarism and Fraud" as a classic case to talk about the importance of public participation in EIA.

"Public participation has played an important role in improving the quality of EIA and resisting EIA falsification, and some EIA falsification problems have been discovered through public participation. The necessity and effectiveness of public participation."


Pic: Zhou’s interview by HK Cable. Video available:


The project has been totally cancelled.  

In an interview by Hong Kong Cable broadcasted on April 5th 2021, Zhou Jinfeng warned that the Shenzhen Bay Channel Dredging Project's falsified Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a very bad practice which harms China's efforts in ecological civilization construction. He called for thorough investigation to the scandal and to improve EIA's visibility and transparency by ensuring grassroots' participation.
In March 2021,  CBCGDF openly criticized the Shenzhen Bay Channel Dredging Project (Phase I) Environmental Impact Report which they found falsified. 
Zhou Jinfeng was among the first environmentalists who discovered this scandal in Mar 2021, shortly after the Shenzhen Government webiste published this EIA report on their official webiste. Zhou Jinfeng led the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) - a leading and independent NGO in China - to study this case shortly after, and sent an official letter to China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, urging the Central Environmental Protection Supervision Group to hold the institutions and unethical experts suspected of falsifying the EIA accountable. 
By the end of March 2021, Zhou Jinfeng's voice became widely noticed. And he was interviewed by Hong Kong Cable TV on the Scandal on April 1, 2021, in which he raised 3 important questions.
(1) EIA organizations involved in falsifications, no matter how authoritative or famous, have to bear the consequences. The assessment mechanism should be sound and serve as a warning for the future.
(2) He called on the government to ensure that environmental impact assessments of projects involving the environment are open and transparent, so that the public can participate in monitoring them; Zhou also urged the government to protect the right of public participation and to listen fully to the grassroots voice.
(3) In the EIA of the Shenzhen Bay project, annother institute previously denied the project, arguing that the environmental impact was so great that the project should not be undertaken. However, the investors and constructing entities no longer invited those once-objected organization. Instead, they invited some other EIA insitutions, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, to provide expert endorsements for their environmentally destructive project.

Translator: Littlejane

Editor: Samantha

Contact: V10@cbcgdf.org; +8617319454776



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