Liang Congjie passed away, IFCE sent condolence [Oct.28,2010]
One of pioneers in China's environmental NGOs development, the founder of Friend of Nature in Beijing, Mr. Liang Congjie passed away on Oct. 28. Ping He on behalf of IFCEsent a letter of condolence to FON on Oct. 29. Attached is the letter in Chinese.
More info can be found from this New York Time news below.
October 29, 2010
Liang Congjie, Chinese Environmental Pioneer, Dies at 78
By MICHAEL WINES
BEIJING — Liang Congjie, who was one of the founders of China’s first legally recognized environmental group and who came to be honored by international agencies and the Chinese government alike, died here on
Thursday. He was 78.Friends of Nature, the group he established, announced his death on its Web site. It said he died of a lung infection in a Beijing hospital.
Mr. Liang was a historian and teacher at the privately run Academy for Chinese Culture in 1994 when he and three co-workers decided that China’s rapid development merited the creation of a citizens’ group that would work to solve environmental problems. “We knew from television about Greenpeace, but there wasn’t anything like that in China,” he told Asiaweek in 2000. “My friends and I began wondering, why not here? We
decided to try.”
Unlike Greenpeace, which is known for its aggressive tactics and high-profile protests, Friends of Nature took a low-key approach, generally choosing to urge the national government to use existing laws to address environmental issues. It established the nation’s first bird-watching group and recently focused on environmental education in primary schools in western China.Yet the group also won national recognition for sponsoring daring, and sometimes dangerous, efforts to promote environmental protection.
In the 1990s, Friends of Nature helped to produce an undercover videotape of officials who were proposing to illegally cut down a stand of virgin forest. The video was broadcast nationally on China’s CCTV network and helped lead the prime minister at the time, Zhu Rongji, to order a ban on logging in virgin forests in 1999.
Friends of Nature also worked to stop the hunting of a rare Tibetan antelope. Hunters killed the leader of antipoaching patrols in the region, but the crusade has drawn worldwide attention; the antelope population tripled to 60,000 animals from 1998 to 2008.
“His relationship with the government was one of being constructively critical,” Ma Jun, a friend and fellow environmentalist, said in a telephone interview on Friday. “He was always pushing for a bigger space for civil society in environmental protection, but in the meantime he did try to work with the system to promote this course. It isn’t easy. It’s still a pretty hard course, but I think some progress has been made.”Mr. Liang “actually incubated the first generation of environmentalists in China,” he added.
Liang Congjie was born into a family known for its reformist bent.His grandfather, the journalist and scholar Liang Qichao, was exiled to Japan for 14 years in 1898 after proposing to Emperor Guangxu of the Qing dynasty that China become a constitutional monarchy.Mr. Liang’s father, Liang Sicheng, was an architect who began an
unsuccessful campaign to save Beijing’s ancient city walls, which have since been replaced by a freeway, and to preserve the historic character of its old city. His home was saved from the bulldozers and designated an “immovable cultural heritage” by China’s cultural heritage administration in January.Mr. Liang is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.Friends of Nature said on its Web site that Mr. Liang’s family, “hoping to follow his austere nature,” planned to hold the simplest possible funeral.
Zhang Jing contributed research.