Home
Special Reports
 
Back
 
One Million a Year Killed by Chinese Pollution


Portland imc
July 6, 2007


Environmental protests are becoming more frequent & strident
in China, despite state media blackouts. The country has,
according to World Bank research, 16 of the 20 worst polluted
cities IN THE WORLD....Even the Chinese gov't admits to major
Chinese urban/rural industrial water pollution accidents every
2-3 days. In a damning cover up the Chinese government has
used its involvement in a World Bank report on the environment
to conceal that around 750,000 people in China die prematurely
each year due to pollution....A further 300,000 people thought
to be killed by exposure to poor air indoors...another 60,000
deaths to poor water quality, largely in countryside leading
to severe diarrhoea & stomach, liver & bladder cancers [thus,
in all, with solvable air & water pollution, well over a
million Chinese killed by their one-party state's
international corporatist developmental model annually]....

"The World Bank was told that it could not
publish this information. It was too sensitive and could cause
social unrest," one adviser to the study told the Financial
Times....."We don't need GDP. We need life." Not a slogan from
the anti-G8 protests in Germany this week, though it might
have been. The words appear in the closing titles of an online
video manifesto [below] from China--part Lao Tzu, part Naomi
Klein--that may mark an unlikely shift in attitudes among the
country's youth,....Remember that the Green Party came out of
terrible industrial pollution of Germany; given that China is
hundreds of times worse, expect China's Green values starting
to be a hundred times stronger.... Chinese "networked
protesters...spread news of upcoming protests by SMS, Twitter
updates & online bulletin boards" in attempts to get around
their one-party state's 'Great Firewall of China', a
totalitarian firewall courtesy of equally totalitarian Bill
Gates & Microsoft.

Near Wuxi, Taihu Lake, China’s third largest lake,
undrinkable,filtration broken they made it around the Great Firewall to organize publicly
and get the word out

SUMMARY OF FOUR SECTIONS: Two articles and a rare 'protest
video' (posted to YouTube) of Chinese complaining about their
government's water policies near Wuxi; and another video by
'sustainability designer' William McDonough, who says he has
been commissioned to build a handful of sustainable cities for
China for the next decade.

Getting around the "Great Firewall of China":

"When the authorities in the city of Xiamen (also known as
Amoy) [pronounced 'Cha-men'] announced they were halting
construction on a large petrochemical plant on May 30, it
followed a sustained, furious text message and internet
offensive in the southeast China port city.

Type "antiPX" into a search engine in the UK and you uncover a
plethora of messages from the campaign against the factory,
slated to be built seven kilometres from the city, which would
produce paraxylene (PX), a chemical used in the manufacture of
polyester--and a central nervous system depressant that can be
fatal in high concentrations.

But search the term in China and you may only see the
frequently inaccessible traces of myriad shifting blogs and
blocked chatrooms, as the internet censors of China's "Great
Firewall" rush to catch up with the increasingly networked
protesters--who spread news of upcoming protests by SMS,
Twitter updates and online bulletin boards.

One of the few reports in China's state media said nearly a
million text messages had been sent demanding the government
renounce the project."

The video said the police that were sent out, seeing perhaps
'the first public protest since 1989 [in Tienanmen Square,
where thousands were slaughtered]', were 'cautious.'

1.

750,000 a year killed by Chinese pollution
Date: 03/07/2007

In a damning cover up the Chinese government has used its
involvement in a World Bank report on the environment to
conceal results that show around three quarters of a million
people in the country die prematurely each year due to
pollution.

The report, produced over several years in co-operation with
China's State Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and health
ministry found about 350,000 - 400,000 people died prematurely
each year from high air-pollution levels. A further 300,000
people are thought to be killed by exposure to poor air
indoors and another 60,000 deaths were attributed to poor
water quality, largely in the countryside leading to severs
diarrhoea and stomach, liver and bladder cancers.

China's State Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and health
ministry asked the World Bank to cut the calculations of
premature deaths from the report called the "Cost of Pollution
in China" when a draft was finished last year, according to
Bank advisers and Chinese officials.

Advisers to the research team said ministries told them this
information, including a detailed map showing which parts of
the country suffered the most deaths, was too sensitive.

"The World Bank was told that it could not publish this
information. It was too sensitive and could cause social
unrest," one adviser to the study told the Financial Times.

As was recently reported in the Ecologist environmental
protests are becoming more frequent and strident in China. The
country has, according to World Bank research, sixteen of the
twenty worst polluted cities in the world and even Sepa admits
to an case of water pollution every two to three days.

The mortality information was "reluctantly" excised by the
World Bank from the published report, according to advisers to
the research project.

http://www.theecologist.org/news_detail.asp?content_id=975

2.

YouTube Video on Chinese water/environmental pollution in
Wuxi, southern China
Water Crisis, Wuxi, China 无锡水祸
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9YJXm1kqk4&eurl=
4:42

3.

Chinese environmental protesters take to the streets

Protests of unprecedented scale have been taking place in
China against rapid and deadly environmental destruction. A
new youth movement is taking to the streets and demanding
change. Sam Geall reports

Date:07/06/2007
Author:Sam Geall

"We don't need GDP. We need life." Not a slogan from the
anti-G8 protests in Germany this week, though it might have
been. The words appear in the closing titles of an online
video manifesto from China [posted above]--part Lao Tzu, part
Naomi Klein--that may mark an unlikely shift in attitudes
among the country's youth, often portrayed as ruthlessly
driven by the pursuit of wealth.

You could be forgiven for finding this surprising. China's
first national plan on climate change, released on June 4, put
the country's remarkable economic growth firmly ahead of
environmental concerns--eschewing curbs on greenhouse-gas
emissions in favour of increased energy efficiency for the
country's rapidly expanding industry.

China's population want to develop without criticism--and
without limits-- say the policy's defenders. [It's just the
issue that they are choosing the wrong materials to
institutionalize actually.] And few would find grounds to
dispute it, were it not for the appearance of a video such as
this, which was made as part of China's burgeoning "antiPX"
movement.

When the authorities in the city of Xiamen (also known as
Amoy) [pronounced 'Cha-men'] announced they were halting
construction on a large petrochemical plant on May 30, it
followed a sustained, furious text message and internet
offensive in the southeast China port city.

Type "antiPX" into a search engine in the UK and you uncover a
plethora of messages from the campaign against the factory,
slated to be built seven kilometres from the city, which would
produce paraxylene (PX), a chemical used in the manufacture of
polyester--and a central nervous system depressant that can be
fatal in high concentrations.

But search the term in China and you may only see the
frequently inaccessible traces of myriad shifting blogs and
blocked chatrooms, as the internet censors of China's "Great
Firewall" rush to catch up with the increasingly networked
protesters--who spread news of upcoming protests by SMS,
Twitter updates and online bulletin boards. One of the few
reports in China's state media said nearly a million text
messages had been sent demanding the government renounce the
project.

The almost unending litany of environmental accidents is a
startling underside of China's breakneck growth, with one
water pollution incident every two to three days, according to
the country's official environmental watchdog.

And the incident in Xiamen would hardly have been remarkable,
if it was not for one thing: that the protests refused to
stop.

On June 1, a large street protest was held in the seaside
city, which won an environmental award from UN-HABITAT in
2004, with protestors turning out wearing the yellow ribbons
that have been adopted as symbols of the campaign.

One of the demonstrators told me in an email why she had
attended the demonstration: "Most of the protestors are the
ordinary residents in Xiamen like me. We just have a very
simple aim: we want to have a healthy living environment for
our family, for our children, for ourselves."

But why did they continue to protest, even after construction
was suspended on the project? Her reply was unequivocal.
"What's the meaning of suspending? Suspending is not
stopping... Maybe when not so many people are concerned, this
project will start again."

A Beijing-based journalist, who chose to remain anonymous,
agreed.

She said that there was a time-honoured government formula for
unpopular plans such as this. "Suspending the project means
that the project will perhaps start again after a period of
time--without any real improvement--but some symbolic
certificates."

Local newspapers, bloggers, voluntary organisations and
student groups have been at the frontlines of the battle
against China's environmental crisis in recent years, exposing
corrupt local government officials, who are often fingered for
their collusion with polluting companies.

And while these campaigns can sometimes garner support from
state media and even central government bodies, these protests
will not.

Why? Because the Taiwan-invested PX project was approved by
one of China's highest planning bodies, the National
Development and Reform Commission.

Hence a government eager to save face--and willing to roll out
the "Great Firewall" and attempt to silence the criticism.

It is significant that the protestors were not only willing to
take on central government and organise despite a media
blackout--but they are also joining up their campaign with
others.

ON THE SAME DAY that demonstrators turned out on the streets
of Xiamen, officials were reassuring residents in the east
China city of Wuxi that a lurid green algae bloom in nearby
Taihu Lake, China's third largest lake, was being cleaned up.
This came on the heels of an outcry by angry residents,
concerned when their drinking water began to stink and run
thick and green.

An outcry that was publicised through the same bulletin boards
as the antiPX protests, and the same video that cast doubts on
China's GDP growth.

So are some of China's citizens turning against a conventional
model of economic growth? Maybe only on the fringes, but it is
clear that there are many who would like to see the country
adopt a healthier, cleaner model of development.

"This project will bring 800 hundred million yuan for Xiamen,"
said the June 1 protestor. "This is not a small amount for
anybody. But could the money buy us life and health?"

Sam Geall is a London-based writer and editor with special
interests in China and environmental issues

 

Promoting Green Building Design, Construction and Operation, Sustainable Living,
Clean Technology, Renewable Energy Resources and Energy Independence