Victory for public environmental action as APP withdraws lawsuit

Press release - 2005-02-22
Giant multinational logging company, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), today withdrew its reputation infringement lawsuit against the Zhejiang Hotels Association, one day ahead of the hearing. The hotel association had been refusing to buy APP paper products after a Greenpeace investigation uncovered the company's illegal logging activities in Yunnan province. This is not only a victory for the Association, but also a landmark win for the Chinese public's involvement in environmental protection.

Three Yunnan farmers encircle the stump of a tree logged illegally in natural forest by giant multinational logging company APP. The farmers have all lost their land to APP.

Giant multinational logging company, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), today withdrew its reputation infringement lawsuit against the Zhejiang Hotels Association, one day ahead of the hearing. The hotel association had been refusing to buy APP paper products after a Greenpeace investigation uncovered the company's illegal logging activities in Yunnan province. This is not only a victory for the Association, but also a landmark win for the Chinese public's involvement in environmental protection.

"We express our sincere congratulations to the Association" said Lo Sze Ping, Greenpeace China Campaign Director. "Although APP tried hard to make the allegation stick, thanks to the efforts of the State Forestry Administration, Greenpeace, and the media, it has been proved that APP illegally logged natural forest in contravention of the Forest Law. APP withdrew the lawsuit before the court hearing to avoid public scrutiny of their illegal logging activities", Lo added.

Following publication of the Greenpeace investigative report into APP's illegal land grabbing and logging in Yunnan, the Zhejiang Hotels Association pledged on 18th November 2004 not to buy APP's paper and affiliated products. The Association also proposed this measure as a criteria for evaluating the environmental policies of their hotels until APP China promise to protect the environment and halt their illegal logging activities. On 30th November, APP lodged a complaint with the court for reputation infringement against the Zhejiang Hotels Association. Preceding this, Greenpeace had sent a copy of the investigative report to the State Forestry Administration. The deputy chief of the State Forestry Administration, Mr. Lei Jiafu, stated in a news release that once the logging proved to be true, the responsible party would be seriously punished according the relative law and regulations.

APP is also the subject of lawsuits. According to a 6th January report in the Asia Times, due to the illegal logging of Green Rich, a branch company of APP in Cambodia, the minister of the Environmental Protection of Cambodia, has stated that he will bring the company to trial. Lo said "APP's activities have attracted the Chinese public's attention, and also attention across other parts of Asia. The more APP try to hide, the more they expose, which naturally leads the public to think about its attitude of ignorance to environmental protection in China, Cambodia and other countries".

Greenpeace demands that APP halt their illegal activities, promises to protect the natural forest in China and to take remedial action to correct its mistakes. Greenpeace will continue to supervise APP's operations in China until it improves its practices in Yunnan and other countries in Southeast Asia. Greenpeace encourages consumers in the region to follow the good example set by the Zhejiang Hotels Association and stand together to protect the environment.

Greenpeace supports the sustainable development strategy and shares the idea with the People's government of Yunnan province to accelerate the forest-pulp-paper combination project within a sustainable development strategy. Greenpeace calls for the Yunnan government to exercise its responsibility to supervise and administer the various irregular operations in practical project implementation.

To date, the Zhejiang Hotels Association has received letters of support from 18 domestic environmental protection parties including China Environment Protection League and 25 international environmental protection parties including Greenpeace as well as the Internet proposals titled 'rejection of APP to protect the forest in Yunnan' jointly signed by a number of BBS members.

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