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'Asia's Nobel Prize' won by anti-pollution lawyer, crusading journalist

Crusading Chinese lawyer and journalist win 'Asia's Nobel Prize', the Ramon Magsaysay Award. Wang Canfa was cited for legal aid to pollution victims, and Hu Shuli for tenacious investigative reporting

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(Image by Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation

Wang Canfa has won the 2014 Ramon Magsaysay Award for founding the Centre for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, which provide pro bono legal aid to individuals and communities affected by pollution.

The winners of the 2014 Ramon Magsaysay Award were announced on July 30, with Wang Canfa, a lawyer and professor at the China University of Political Science and Law and a member of chinadialogue's editorial advisory board, recognised for his work in founding the Centre for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), which provide pro bono legal aid to individuals and communities affected by pollution.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award has been described as “Asia’s Nobel Prize” and is given for selfless dedication to public service to Asians or those working in Asia. Established in 1957, the award commemorates former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay.

More than ten Chinese citizens have won the award in the past, including inventor of the first hybrid rice varieties Yuan Longping, sociologist Fei Xiaotong, and vice-minister for Environmental Protection Pan Yue.

Wang Canfa’s organisation was founded in November 1999. In its first five years it brought more than 70 environmental pollution cases to court, helping more than 20,000 members of the public protect their interests.

As well as bringing lawsuits, the centre also brings together legal experts, managers and technical staff to discuss environmental law; organises international exchanges; and educates and trains the public on legal matters.

Learning of the award, Beijing lawyer Li Gang told chinadialogue that “Professor Wang is both founder and foundation of the CLAPV. China’s environmental governance has only just started and there is still a huge role for civil society groups to play. We can look forward to him providing even more help for environmental volunteers and other environmental lawyers.”

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