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China’s Public Square Debate over Nuclear Power: Refracting Germany

Anti-Nuclear Protestors Storming Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, 29 May 2011; image courtesy Le Monde.fr

Imagine my suprise to open the webpage of the Huanqiu Shibao this morning to find the headline “German Environmental Ministry Announces that Germany Will Close All Nuclear Plants by 2022.”  The following story/poll looks like this — and please note the minumum of spin:




In other words:

Do you or don’t you support China continuing to develop nuclear power plants? (Click “Support” “Don’t support”)

Huanqiu Shibao internet reporter Tan Liya reports that, according to an AFP report of May 30, Germany has decided to close all domestic nuclear power plants by 2022, creating among the significant industrialised nations on the earth the first country to renounce nuclear energy.

The Japanese earthquake and the leaks at the first reactor at Fukushima in March of this year have triggered a series of debates about the saftety of nuclear power in many countries.   According to German media reports, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in the streets on May 28 to oppose the continued retention of nuclear power plants in Germany.

The poll seems ongoing at the moment, but about 115 comments are up on the Huanqiu story.  A sampling of “netizen” thoughts on the subject (obligatory Hitler references have been omitted):

中国万万不能弃核,现在的电都不够用,还要老限电。虽然有些人说没电人可以活,但如果真的让你在没电的世界呆上三月,你试试。只有提高科技技术,把安全指数提高才是解决问题的根本办法。德国为什么弃呢,因为他们有几十万人在游行,政府再不表态,他们国家等 不到核毁灭,也要打内战。

There is no way China can relinquish nuclear energy; already there is insufficient energy supply available for use, and the power lines are old.  Of course there are a few people who say “people can live without electricity,” but if this world were truly without electricity for more three months, you try it!  The basic soloution to the problem is to recognize that technical capabilities should improve and that high technical solutions can be found.  Why does Germany relinquish [nuclear power]?  Because they have hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating, the government cannot take the stand not to destroy nuclear power, or [they would also have to] fight a civil war.

"Atomic Power? No, Thanks." Image courtesy Stern magazine; click image for interactive map of Germany's 17 nuclear power plants