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Controversy over nominations for Green Chinese awards
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10:40, November 01, 2007

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The inclusion of actress Gong Li on this year's shortlist for a "Green Chinese" award has sparked a mixed response.

While some people believe she deserves the nomination for her efforts to promote environmental protection, others have condemned her for "talking about the environment while wearing fur"

Gong Li
Gong was seen wearing a fur during a session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March, at which she presented a proposal on environmental issues.

Although it has not been confirmed if the fur was real or fake, the incident still sparked debate.

The annual Green Chinese awards are co-sponsored by seven government departments, which select between five and 10 Chinese who have made significant contributions to protecting the environment.

Wang Panpu, secretary-general of the China Environment Culture Promotion Association (CECPA), which organizes the awards, yesterday explained the reasons for Gong's nomination.

"We have included a number of controversial figures to make people really think about the issue," he said.

Voting for this year's awards was held between September 5 and October 20, when more than 50,000 people cast their votes by mail, phone and over the Internet.

Comedian Ge You is another of the controversial nominees.

The entertainer was criticized for his endorsement of the Yilin Wood Co, which is alleged to have used pyramid-selling techniques to cheat investors in a land-purchase deal out of 1.6 billion yuan ($214 million).

However, Ge also earned support from voters for taking part in commercials to promote green issues.

Neither Gong Li nor Ge You has been directly involved in sabotaging the environment, but both have been criticized for discrepancies between their words and deeds on environmental issues, Wang said.

The Green Chinese awards attracted the public's attention last year following the controversial nomination of film directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Jizhong, although neither of them made it to the final shortlist.

While shooting The Promise, Chen's film crew was said to have damaged the environment near a pristine lake shore in Shangri-la in Yunnan Province.

Similarly, the company behind Zhang's film was accused of damaging the environment in the Jiuzhaigou National Park in Sichuan Province.

Zhang later agreed to make a documentary as recompense, while Chen was given a fine.

The organizing committee announced its list of 280 nominees Tuesday. It includes people from all walks of life across China and even in other countries.

Favorites to win an award include Wang Yongchen, the founder of Green Earth Volunteer, a non-governmental organization involved with environmental protection; Chai Jing, a CCTV journalist who has conducted numerous reports on environmental issues; and Zhao Xihai, a retiree who has spent the past decade planting hundreds of thousands of trees.

Movie star Jackie Chan and director Zhang Yimou are also on the list.


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