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China Ignores Fine Dust Lawsuit Filed by Korean Civic Group
Beijing Shirks Responsibility
China Ignores Fine Dust Lawsuit Filed by Korean Civic Group
  • By Jung Suk-yee
  • January 17, 2019, 11:22
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Thick fine dust blankets Seoul for the fifth consecutive day on Jan. 15.

Although the Korean peninsula is suffering from fine dust from China, the Chinese government is shirking its responsibility. It is completely ignoring a compensation lawsuit filed by a Korean civic group and postponing the announcement of the results of joint research carried out by Korea, Japan and China.

Early this month, the Chinese government returned to Korea the lawsuit-related documents sent by the Korean Office of Court Administration without even opening them, Korean civic groups said on Jan. 16.

In April 2017, a plaintiff group led by Choi Yeol, chairman of Greenfund, and lawyer Ahn Kyung-jae filed a lawsuit against both the Korean and Chinese governments for compensation for damage from fine dust. The Korean court took action to bring the Chinese government to the court for a trial. It sent documents related to foreign and Korea-China treaties, but the Chinese government ignored such a move.

China argues that under international law, a government cannot be a defendant in another country' court, so the lawsuit is a violation of China’s sovereignty. “International law allows exceptions when people's lives are seriously and urgently violated and threatened," said Ji Hyun-young, a director of the Fine Dust Center of Greenfund. The second date for pleading scheduled to take place on Jan. 7 was postponed, but the court has failed to set the next date for pleading due to China’s ignorance strategy.

China has been using a delaying tactic as much as possible in joint research with Korea and Japan to scientifically find out the sources of fine dust emissions. The results were originally scheduled to come out in June of last year, but China’s opposition put it off to September of this year. But this time, Japan postponed it to November of the same year as it requested the postponement of a meeting of the three countries' environmental ministers. Korea urgently needs to find out the causes and solutions, but now it is impossible to say when Korea will be able to do that. This is why Korea hosted the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Environmental Health Center. Korea judged that when the results of the international organization’s analysis come out, China will not ignore them.