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骆家辉辞职折射中国环保尴尬

Scott Cendrowski 2013年11月26日

据猎头公司透露,北京的空气污染问题已经成为不少西方高管决定是否来中国就职时首先要考虑的问题。同时,民间普遍猜测,高管一到冬天就纷纷撤离北京,也是因为忌惮冬天格外严重的污染。骆家辉的突然离职正好与这股潮流不谋而合。

    随着北京即将迎来因空气污染而恶名远扬、有损健康的冬天,京城的西方人开始密切关注各大公司高层的离城动向,纷纷质疑,空气污染是不是导致他们离开的真正原因。同时,美国驻华大使骆家辉出人意料地突然辞职,也成为街谈巷议的最新谈资。

    官方口径是,骆家辉是为了回到西雅图陪伴自己目前就读高中的孩子,直至他们毕业。美国驻京大使馆发言人柯英豪称:“他的家人今年夏天已经返回美国,他的大女儿正在读高中,而他希望能和家人团聚。”

    针对社交媒体上盛传的所谓因空气污染而被迫辞职的传言,骆家辉做出了回应。他告诉《洛杉矶时报》(Los Angeles Times):“绝不是这么回事。我们确实关心这件事(空气质量),但这不是让我们回到美国的原因。”

    真实情况可能并不会这么一目了然。其他媒体有报道称,与骆家辉聊过辞职这件事的人表示,空气污染也是重要的诱因之一。而骆家辉在公开表态中至少也曾经对此表示过担忧。

    过去几周来,我一直在询问北京的外籍商务人士和其他人群,空气污染对他们考虑是否继续留在北京影响有多大,这也是我今年到北京来之后一直就有的疑问。大家的回答一致透露出离开的动向,骆家辉的辞职正好与此不谋而合。大家都异口同声地表示,空气污染是头号因素,对那些有孩子的家长来说尤其如此,而这对那些有能力选择是否留在中国生活的人来说更有着实实在在的影响。

    这周我采访的一家亚洲知名猎头公司表示,在企业界,想来中国工作的首席执行官的人选始终颇为匮乏。的确,中国的吸引力现在有所减退——比如那令人惊叹的两位数增长率已是明日黄花。但这家公司称,付给那些首席执行官候选人的薪酬高低(或就骆家辉这样的例子来说,这个职位能带来多大的声望)并不是他们考虑的主要因素,他们是否会来归根结底取决于污染和生活方式。污染是有些人考虑的首要因素,对另一些人来说,它至少也在众多因素中占中间位置。但显然对所有人来说它都是一个大问题。

    骆家辉这样的公众人物没办法像其他人那样对污染畅所欲言。除了外交上的考虑之外,还有一个因素在于,中国在污染问题上已不再和美国唱反调了。中国政府不仅紧跟美国大使馆的脚步开始定期公布空气质量指数,还公开表态必须扭转空气质量不断恶化的趋势,哪怕暂时来说拿出解决方案还遥遥无期。

    骆家辉可能永远也不会透露空气污染对他决定离京的影响到底有多大。但他的辞职还是凸显了一个真相:职业声望是一回事,真正住在北京又是另一回事了。(财富中文网)

    译者:清远

    As Beijing creeps closer to the notoriously noxious winter season for air pollution, Westerners here are tracking executives' moves from the city and asking whether pollution is the culprit. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke's surprise resignation from his post in Beijing is the latest fodder.

    The official line is that Locke is returning to Seattle so he can be with his high-school age children when they graduate in the U.S. "It's very clear his family has been back there since summer, his eldest kids are in high school, and he wants to rejoin his family," said the spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Nolan Barkhouse.

    Locke himself responded to rampant speculation across social media that pollution forced him out. "Absolutely not," he told the Los Angeles Times. "We are concerned about it [air quality], but that's not what motivated us to go back."

    The real story is probably not so clear-cut. Other media outlets have reported that people who spoke to Locke about his decision said that pollution weighed on his resignation. And Locke himself acknowledges at least some concern in his quote.

    Locke's resignation follows a trend I've heard for the past few weeks as I've asked businesspeople and others in Beijing about pollution's influence on their decisions to live here, questions I've had ever since moving to China's capital city this year. Invariably, they say pollution is a top factor, especially for those with children, and it's something that has real influence on those who have a choice about living in China.

    One prominent headhunter in Asia I spoke with this week said in the corporate world, there's a shortage of executives for CEO roles who want to come to China. Sure, the country's luster has slightly worn off -- there are no longer eye-popping, double-digit GDP growth rates, for one. But the headhunter said it doesn't matter how much you pay prospective CEOs to come here (or in Locke's case, how much prestige comes with the job), their decisions often come down to pollution and lifestyle. For some, pollution's on the top of the list of considerations, for others it's somewhere in the middle. But it's an issue for all.

    Public figures like Locke can't talk about pollution like others. Besides diplomatic considerations, there's also the fact that China is no longer at loggerheads with the U.S. over the problem. China's government has not only followed the U.S. Embassy's lead to issue frequent measures of air quality for the public, but it openly talks about the need to reverse the ugly trend of air quality, even if solutions remain far off.

    Locke may never reveal the degree to which pollution affected his decision. But his resignation highlights this truth: Career prestige is one thing, the reality of living in Beijing is another.

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