Currently, China economy is developing at a high speed. The national economy and people’s living standards are becoming better and better. However, there are some ethical problems during the development, which are likely to hinder the long-term progress of the economy. The key issues are about employees’ rights and safety, customers’ rights, corporate social responsibility, the environmental pollution and etc. (Liu & Jie, 2015). In this essay, the ethical issue on environment is discussed.
Current State of Environment Pollution in China
Environmental pollution refers to the negative impacts on the environment in the factory’s production process. The pollution may be due to excessive emissions or even noise produced during production. The problems trigged by the environment pollution are very serious now. The air pollution and water pollution caused by heavy industry enterprises have even seriously affected the daily life of residents. For example, in the winter of 2016, Beijing issued a five-day smog red alert. The government asked the schools to close temporarily and residents to stay indoors.
Not only that, but 21 other northern cities had also issued red warnings. As the heavy industry is concentrated in northern China, the pollution in the north has already been treated as a disaster (Phillips, 2016). Although production can create economic benefits, people also need a good natural environment. At first, some people even questioned whether residents have the rights to gain an enjoyable natural environment, including air or water resources, or whether it is worthwhile or not to sacrifice the environment for economic profits. The Coase theorem (Farrell, 1987) pointed that when property rights exist and transaction costs are low, people’s personal choices lead to efficient resource allocation, even if external costs are required. It means that under normal market conditions, people are bound to require good natural resources.
Reasons for the Ethical Issue on Environment
Ethical issues on environment are caused by the following two main reasons.
First of all, some companies are completely unaware of their ethical problems. Ethics requires people to do the right things. However, everyone has different standards for the “right”. Some people have universal moral standards, hence they can consider for others (Stahl & Grigsby, 1997). However, the ethics and correctness that some people pursue would do harm to others. The environment pollution is produced in this way. Some companies believe that the pursuit of profits is the only right thing, and the interests of others are not within their consideration, so they take the pollution for granted.
Unlike these companies, some other Chinese companies have already been aware of the importance of environmental issues, but they are still reluctant to make changes. This is caused by economic reasons. Specifically, companies do not want to spend on solving environmental issues. For industrial enterprises, wastewater is inevitably produced in the production process, and if indiscriminate effluent discharging, the company does not need to spend extra fees. However, if wastewater treatment is chosen, the costs and expenditures would increase significantly. China Water Risk (2015) pointed that wastewater treatment fees increased to CNY1.20/ton or CNY1.40/ton (based on different positions) for non-residential users. If the business does not use additional systems for disposal and do not discharge indiscriminately, the own waste disposal system need to be built, or the company needs to use technologies to reduce the emissions during the production, which requires an upgrade in high costs.
Measures to Respond to Environmental Issues
Some measures have been proposed to deal with the problem. First of all, the environmental problem itself needs to be solved. The Chinese government is actively pursuing the policies to balance the economic growth and environmental protection. As a result, the Chinese government has tightened environmental laws, forcing companies to respond through direct fines or forcing closures of polluting companies. Meanwhile, the business needs to find measures that meet the environmental standards to operate (Ludde, 2018).
Also, the government provides financial support for pollution controls and boosts the development of environment-friendly industries in China economy. Simultaneously, companies must address the issue ethically. The government and media have promoted the importance on environmental protection and corporate ethics. As a result, companies can learn the ethics and discipline, and then ethical level can be enhanced by industry self-discipline.
In summary, the environmental problem faced by China economy is a crucial aspect of ethical issues. There are many reasons for this problem. From an ethical point of view, the enterprises themselves do not care about the environmental problems, and they are unable to realize the importance of protection and the long-term harm of pollution. From an economic point of view, in the short term, the environmental protection would lead to high costs and lower the corporate profits.
To solve the problem, the government has strengthened the legal regulations to push the companies to make changes and regulate the corporate behaviors in the future. The government has also increased financial grant for environmental industry to solve current problems. What is more, the awareness of environmental protection is advertised. Hence, the enterprise ethics can be improved effectively. However, the solutions to environmental problems may also raise other issues. The government has forced the closure of polluting companies to meet the environmental standards.
It is worth mentioning that some companies are regarded as the intermediary whose closure would lead to the breakages of supply chains for the upstream and downstream enterprises. Although the behaviors can solve the environmental problems, other problems, including the unemployment problem or economic development slowdown, would be caused. When solving environmental problems, these negative effects should be avoided, and how to avoid them should be considered in the future.