Working for the public good

Still a long way to go

The current issue of Window of the South (南风窗) features a list of people and organizations who devoted themselves to the public interest in 2006.

Window of the South is a political and current events weekly owned by the Guangzhou Daily Group. The magazine's slogan is "For the public good".

This is the fourth year the magazine has published the list of public benefactors. This year's list includes the following people:

Ma Jun (马军) is a environmental activist, and was named as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world by Time magazine in May this year. The other Chinese people on the list were Wen Jiabao, director Ang Lee, and Huang Guangyu, the entrepreneur behind the Gome chain of electronics stores who may be the richest man in China.

Ma Jun's 1999 book the China's Water Crisis may be for China what Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was for the U.S. — the country's first great environmental call to arms, according to Time.

This year, Ma Jun has been in charge of IPE (Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs), launching the Chinese Water Pollution Map, which is the first public data base of water pollution information in China.

Li Yinhe (李银河) is a high controversial sociologist whose opinions about sex frequently get her media attention and sometimes criticism from prudes: she has said that wife swapping and orgies should be within each citizen's rights, defended homosexuality etc. Such ideas sound radical in China but Li's writings and speeches have forced previously taboo subjects into the realm of public debate.

Wang Guangmei (王光美), was married to Liu Shaoqi (刘少奇) who was purged during the Cultural Revolution, dying in horrible conditions in prison in 1969. Wang was also arrested at that time. She was released in 1979, only finding out about her husband's death after she was out of prison. However she was 'rehabilitated', becoming a member of the CPPCC and founding the Happy Project (幸福工程), an organization that gives assistance to impoverished mothers. Wang died on October 13 this year.

Century China (世纪中国) is a website that was shut down by the Chinese Net Nanny in July this year. It used to contain many good academic articles and reviews of policies and laws.

Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (污染受害者法律帮助中心) is a non-governmental environmental protection organization established in October 1998.

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