SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The environmental protection bureau in the southwestern Chinese city of Zigong has been forced to apologize after insulting a resident who complained about dust pollution at a construction site, the official China Daily reported on Friday.
The resident asked the bureau through the social media application WeChat to take action at the site next to a high school in Zigong, known as China’s “salt city”.
“Nobody would consider you dumb if you did not speak,” the bureau said in an automatic response to the complaint.
The bureau blamed an “intelligent robot” for the reply and promised to tackle the dust problem. The automatic response function on the bureau’s WeChat account has also been switched off, the China Daily said.
China has been encouraging citizens to get involved in the fight against pollution, urging them to report any violations to the authorities via apps like WeChat.
More than 618,000 tip-offs related to pollution were submitted to environmental bureaus last year, more than double the rate in 2016, according to figures published by the environment ministry last month.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Paul Tait)