Status of Chinese People

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    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
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    Losing the New China, Ethan Gutmann
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    Nine Commentaries on The Communist Party, the Epochtimes
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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘pollution’ Category

More than 2,600 ill in China tap water contamination

Posted by Author on July 29, 2009


AFP, July 29, 2009 –

BEIJING — More than 2,600 people have fallen ill in a city in north China’s Inner Mongolia region after the tap water supply was contaminated during heavy rainfall, state media reported Wednesday.

A total of 2,622 people have sought medication for gastrointestinal illness and as of Tuesday night, 59 were hospitalised, the Xinhua news agency said, citing an unnamed spokesman with the Chifeng city health department.

Patients suffered from fever, diarrhoea, stomach ache and vomiting after drinking tap water at home, the report said.

The government has blamed heavy rainfall on Saturday for the pollution, it said.

The downpour caused water from a lake to spill over into a well that provides drinking water for a population of 58,000 in one city district, it added.

Around 30 years of unbridled economic growth have left most of China’s lakes and rivers heavily polluted while the nation’s urban dwellers also face some of the world’s worst air pollution.

More than 200 million Chinese currently do not have access to safe drinking water, according to government data.

AFP

Posted in China, Environment, Health, Inner Mongolia, Life, News, North China, pollution, water, World | Comments Off on More than 2,600 ill in China tap water contamination

Disabilities in China’s polluted Shanxi Province

Posted by Author on April 25, 2009


By James Reynolds, BBC News, Shanxi, central China, Apr. 23, 2009-

For the Li family, the best part of the day comes at noon.

Every day, after school, Li San San picks up his children from school, jams them all onto the back of his motorbike and drives them through the hills back home.

The kids cling onto each other and laugh as they try not to fall off.

On the main roads nearby, lines of coal trucks head off to the rest of China. The valleys are full of steelworks and heavy industry.

The Li family get back to their home, which is carved into the side of a hill.

Six-year-old Hong Wei eats his noodles and sits quietly in front of his school notebook.

He has a shy smile and hides in his sister’s lap when we try to talk to him.

Hong Wei was born with an extra thumb on his right hand. His elder sister Lixia, who’s 14, was born with a twisted left foot and walks with a heavy limp.

Like many people in Shanxi, this family is too poor to go to the doctors. The parents don’t know why their children were born with defects. They’re simply left to guess.

“The air isn’t good around here,” says Li San San. “When it’s bad, it’s difficult to breathe, it looks gloomy and smoggy out there.”

The province of Shanxi is one of the most polluted places in the world.

The rate of birth defects in this region is six times higher than the national average.

In January, the director of family planning in Shanxi, An Huanxiao, told the China Daily newspaper that the province’s high rate of birth defects was related to environmental pollution. …… (more details from BBC News)

Posted in air, Central China, China, Environment, Family, Health, Life, News, People, pollution, Rural, Shanxi, World | Comments Off on Disabilities in China’s polluted Shanxi Province

China approves controversial chemical plant in nearby city

Posted by Author on January 14, 2009


Reuters, Tue Jan 13, 2009 –

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s environment ministry has approved a petrochemical plant that drew fierce opposition over feared pollution in one eastern city, approving its construction several miles to the west.

Plans to build the paraxylene plant in Xiamen, Fujian province, faltered in 2007 after residents there mobilized a rare mass campaign over fears of toxins from the petrochemicals, used to make polyester and fabrics.

But now the Ministry of Environmental Protection had passed an environmental impact study to build the petrochemical complex in Zhangzhou, about 50 km (30 miles) west of Xiamen, the official China News Service reported on Tuesday.

The approval means the project, costing about 14 billion yuan ($2 billion), “may move to Zhangzhou,” the report said.

Officials in Zhangzhou would not comment about the report when contacted by Reuters. Calls to the Tenglong Aromatic Hydrocarbon Company, which the report said would build the plant, were not answered.

There were no reports of organized opposition in Zhangzhou.

Chinese citizens have grown increasingly vocal over the pollution and environmental blight that has accompanied the country’s frantic industrialization.

But officials and citizens are also eager to create jobs, especially with growth slowing sharply in recent months.

In June 2007, protests against the project spread in Xiamen by mobile phone text message, prompting environmental officials in Beijing to chide the local government for disregarding environmental impact assessment steps.

Residents said they feared the plant on the city edge would release toxins that would do lasting damage to health. Officials said the project was entirely safe.

Reuters

Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, Environment, Health, Life, News, pollution, Social, World | Comments Off on China approves controversial chemical plant in nearby city

Review: China in 2008– the CCP started to lose its stranglehold (2)

Posted by Author on December 29, 2008


The Diplomat, Australia, 24-Dec-2008 –

Government insider turned dissident writer Jennifer Zeng asks whether 2008 will be remembered as the year the CCP started to lose its stranglehold over China

(Cont’d)

Pollution, corruption, food adulteration

The Paralympics had barely drawn to a close when news of the poisoned milk powder broke. If the Sanlu Group had not been partly owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra and launched an investigation, thousands more babies might be dying from the results of melamine poisoning. The authorities had known there was a problem since December 2007, but it was all hushed up because of the Olympics.

Food and water contamination is a massive problem in China. Zhou Qing, award-winning author of What Kind of God – A Survey of the Current Safety of China’s Food, warned years ago that food security could ultimately spark the collapse of the CCP, and there are increasing signs that the people are less accepting of the situation. Certainly the statistics make sobering reading.

Over 40 per cent of drinking water in rural China falls short of government standards, animal feed is almost universally tainted with melamine, excessive pesticides and chemical fertilisers are used to boost yields, and harmful antibiotics are widely administered to control disease in seafood and livestock. Talcum powder is routinely added to flour and rice is chemically whitened. And yet, miraculously, the CCP is still able to ensure access to the best-quality organically grown produce for party officials.

Throughout 2008, the CCP has used the global financial crisis to reinforce the superiority of the country’s social system. In reality, though, China is far from immune. Its stock market has plunged by nearly two-thirds in the 11 months to September and the economy remains sluggish, with large numbers of factories going bankrupt as international demand for Chinese-made consumer goods slides. According to the State Planning and Development Commission, nearly 70,000 small- to medium-sized companies went out of business in the first half of 2008.

It is these factors and their associated social repercussions that most threaten the CCP’s monopoly on political power. As well as the poor and hungry, beneficiaries of Party patronage, who had grown extremely rich in previous years, are known to be unhappy that their worth has been cut by 50 per cent of late.

Meanwhile corruption, rampant throughout the financial markets, has reached epidemic levels among government officials, and people have finally had enough. In August, 28-year-old Yang Jia allegedly broke into the Zhabei Branch of Shanghai’s Bureau of Public Security, where 2700 police officers were working, and stabbed six policemen to death and wounded four more.

In any normal society, this would be horrific news. Yet 90 per cent of bloggers and Internet users in China showed sympathy and support for Yang after rumours spread that he had been badly treated by police in the past. At his second trial in October, in a display of public dissatisfaction with the regime, more than 1000 supporters gathered outside the court to support Yang. One man held a huge banner that read, The knight-errant will endure forever. Many others shouted, ‘Overthrow the fascist government! Overthrow the Chinese Communist Party! Yang Jia is a hero!’ A small group was even bold enough to wear T-shirts displaying Yang Jia’s photo. The protests were to no avail, however, as Yang was executed in November.

It is a measure of the level of anger at social injustice and the bias of the judicial system that so many people, including ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium designer Ai Weiwei, should publicly support a suspected cop-killer. And the prevailing mood of dissatisfaction is growing. Riots are now a daily occurrence, including in June when an attempted police cover-up over the assault and death of a teenage girl triggered large-scale violence in Guizhou Province. Up to 100,000 are reported to have participated in the riot, with 160 office buildings and 40 cars torched. (to be cont’d)

< previous |      Next >

The Diplomat

Posted in Business, China, Commentary, corruption, Economy, Environment, Made in China, News, Opinion, pollution, products, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Review: China in 2008– the CCP started to lose its stranglehold (2)

China’s “cancer village”– Liu-kuai

Posted by Author on December 14, 2008


by Michael Anderson, SOH Radio Network, on Friday, December 12th, 2008 –

Industrial development and poor environmental protection has led to one village in Tianjin having a cancer rating 25 times higher than the national average. Liu-kuai is now dubbed China’s “cancer village”.

Liu-kuai village used to be a prosperous fishery and rice patty area about a decade ago, according to Chinese media. The village is now heavily concentrated with chemical industries, and there is now severe water and air pollution, barren lands and fishery decimation. The village is now plagued by cases of respiratory diseases and cancer.

In 2003, Liu-kuai villagers participated in a survey, and found that out of the 190 locals surveyed, 148 suffered from chronic headaches and nausea, and 39 suffered constant asthma, Tracheitis and other respiratory diseases. Since 1998, over 200 people have died from cancer there, the majority of them from lung cancer. The proportion of cancer sufferers in the village in the last10 years is 25 times higher than the Chinese national average, and there is almost one cancer patient to every family.

According to one local resident, they used to be able to drink straight from the river, and now they don’t even dare to drink well water. Water pumped up from hundreds of metres below ground level now comes up yellow with a strange smell. Many of the middle-aged women in the area have developed brain tumours from the severity of the pollution.

Over a hundred industrial chemical businesses are only a stones throw away from villager’s homes, and the waste water spouts they use are hidden below the water line. These businesses release waste water into the river day and night, severely affecting the health of local residents. The irony is that the government has cancelled medical benefits for rural people and these kinds of cases are becoming more and more common.

The above new is hosted by … for Inside China Today on the SOH Radio Network

Posted in China, Economy, Environment, Health, Life, News, People, pollution, River, Rural, water, World | Comments Off on China’s “cancer village”– Liu-kuai

China east city residents mobilize against chemical project

Posted by Author on October 13, 2008


By Chris Buckley, Reuters, Mon Oct 13, 2008-

BEIJING (Reuters) – Residents of a pollution-plagued Chinese city are mobilizing against a proposed chemical plant they fear will menace their health, with some urging marches against the scheme they say puts growth before the environment.

The plant proposed for Taizhou on the coast of east China’s Zhejiang province would make paraxylene (PX), a petrochemical used in polyester. Last year, protests against a PX plant planned for another coastal city, Xiamen, led to officials shelving it.

Now Taizhou residents, dismayed at the prospect of another chemical plant in an area already crowded with them, are threatening to re-enact those protests — and again bring into focus China’s struggle to balance growth with growing public anger over pollution and environmental threats.

“Resolutely oppose the PX project. As Taizhou residents, everyone must take some action,” said one message on a local website (http://bbs.taizhou.com) that has served as a platform for the opposition. “We want clear water and green hills, not toxic cash.”

China’s leaders have vowed to create a more “harmonious society” with cleaner air and water, even at the cost of slower economic growth. But this dispute threatens to become another battle pitting citizens against local officials whose priority often remains attracting fresh investment and revenue.

A website devoted to opposing the project (http://blog.sina.com.cn/baoweitaizhou) urges residents to “surround Taizhou.”

“Let the people speak out. Give them full rights to know and express themselves,” said the latest posting, dated Sunday. “Environmental problems are the world’s problems, and every individual’s.”

Internet messages also urge residents to send around text messages organizing mass “strolls” against the project.

EAGER OFFICIALS

Coastal Taizhou is a hub of chemical production and the big plant would be a feather in the cap for local officials.

“This is a rare historic opportunity, and a big project to enrich the people of Taizhou,” stated an official news report in April (http://tz.zj.gov.cn) that announced the plan.

“We must seize the initiative and go all out to win it.”

But residents and workers in Taizhou have long complained about water, air and fields putrid with pollution……. (more details from Reuters)

Posted in China, City resident, East China, Economy, Energy, Environment, News, People, Politics, pollution, Social, World, Zhejiang | Comments Off on China east city residents mobilize against chemical project

China’s Environmental Crisis : Special report

Posted by Author on August 7, 2008


by the Council on Foreign Relations, USA, Aug. 4, 2008-

Introduction

China’s heady economic growth continued to blossom in 2007, with the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) hitting 11.4 percent. This booming economy, however, has come alongside an environmental crisis. Sixteen of the world’s twenty most polluted cities are in China. To many, Beijing’s pledge to host a “Green Olympics” in the summer of 2008 signaled the country’s willingness to address its environmental problems. Experts say the Chinese government has made serious efforts to clean up and achieved many of the bid commitments. However, an environmentally sustainable growth rate remains a serious challenge for the country.

What has China’s economic boom done to the environment?

China’s economy has grown tenfold since 1978, and its focus on economic development at breakneck speed has led to widespread environmental degradation. “China has gone through an industrialization in the past twenty years that many developing countries needed one hundred years to complete,” said Pan Yue, vice minister of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) in a 2007 report in Germany’s Spiegel. Yue was then the deputy director of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), which became the MEP in March 2008. But Elizabeth C. Economy, a CFR senior fellow and expert on China’s environment, says the argument that China is experiencing the same growing pains as any other industrialized nation “fundamentally mischaracterizes” the issue. The “scale and scope of pollution far outpaces what occurred in the United States and Europe” during their industrial revolutions, she says. Moreover, China’s environmental woes have hurt its economy. The damage to the ecosystem costs China about 9 percent of its GDP, according to the United Nations Development Program.

What are some of China’s major environmental challenges?
  • Water. China suffers from the twin problems of water shortage and water pollution. About one-third of China’s population lacks access to clean drinking water. Its per-capita water supply falls at around a quarter of the global average. Some 70 percent of the country’s rivers and lakes are polluted, with roughly two hundred million tons of sewage and industrial waste pouring into Chinese waterways in 2004. As part of its effort to harness the nation’s water supply, China has a large dam-building program with over twenty-five thousand dams nationwide–more than any other nation. The dam projects are not only a high cost in terms of money, but also in farmland loss, ecological damage, and forced migration of millions of people, says the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Jennifer L. Turner, director of its China Environment Forum, in a report for the Jamestown Foundation.
  • Land. Desertification in China leads to the loss of about 5,800 square miles of grasslands every year, an area roughly the size of Connecticut. The Worldwatch Institute, an environmental watchdog and research organization, reports that excessive farm cultivation, particularly overgrazing, is one of the leading causes of desertification. The cultivation stems from a policy followed from the 1950s to the early 1980s that encouraged farmers to settle in grasslands. As the deforestation grows, so do the number of sandstorms; a hundred were expected between 2000 and 2009, more than a fourfold increase over the previous decade. Desertification also contributes to China’s air pollution problems, with increasing dust causing a third of China’s air pollution.
  • Greenhouse gases. In 2008, China surpassed the United States as the largest global emitter of greenhouse gases by volume. (On a per capita basis, however, Americans emit five times as much greenhouse gas as Chinese.) The increase in China’s emissions is primarily due to the country’s reliance on coal, which accounts for over two-thirds of its energy consumption. It contributes to sulfur dioxide emissions causing acid rain, which falls on over 30 percent of the country.
  • Population and development. China’s inhabitants number more than 1.3 billion. The country’s growing economic prosperity and rapid development mean increasing urbanization, consumerism, and pollution. One example of this can be seen in car production: As Kelly Sims Gallagher notes in her book, China Shifts Gears, China produced 42,000 passenger cars in 1990. By 2004, the number hit one million, with sixteen million cars on China’s roads. By 2000, motor vehicles were the leading cause of China’s urban air pollution, though China adheres to stricter mileage standards than the United States.

How has the Chinese public responded to the environmental threat?

The government received six hundred thousand environment-related complaints in 2006, a figure that has risen roughly 30 percent each year since 2002. Aside from economic concerns over the cost of environmental degradation, the government recognizes that environment-related social unrest threatens central authority.

In May 2006, China Daily reported that roughly fifty thousand environmental disputes took place during the prior year. This mirrors an overall trend of a rise in the number of protests over the past decade, fueled by a sense of individual rights related to increasing openness and prosperity.

In June 2007, the citizens of Xiamen, a city on the southeastern coast known for its ecotourism industry, demonstrated (SFGate) against the construction of a chemical factory slated to be built nearby.

In May 2008, citizens in Chengdu demonstrated against the construction of a petrochemical factory and oil refinery (Reuters), citing environmental concerns……. (more details from the Council on Foreign Relations)

Posted in air, China, Environment, Law, Life, News, Politics, pollution, Social, water, World | Comments Off on China’s Environmental Crisis : Special report

2008 China Olympics: U.S. cyclists wear masks upon arrival in Beijing

Posted by Author on August 6, 2008


– from USA Today

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– More photos available from USA Today

Posted in air, Athlete, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Environment, News, People, pollution, Sports, USA, World | Comments Off on 2008 China Olympics: U.S. cyclists wear masks upon arrival in Beijing

Air Pollution Still Troubles China Ahead of Olympics

Posted by Author on August 6, 2008


By Stephanie Ho, VOA News, Beijing, 04 August 2008-

As China makes last minute preparations to host the Olympics, the environment is proving to be one major wild card that Chinese leaders cannot totally control. Olympic host city Beijing has some of the most polluted air in the world. Despite measures aimed at clearing the skies, the air is still often a disturbing murky gray. Stephanie Ho reports from the Chinese capital.

These days, people watch the skies above Beijing closely. Some days, especially after it rains, the skies are relatively clear.

More often than not, though, a thick murky haze fills the air and makes it nearly impossible to see nearby buildings.

What is causing Beijing’s gray skies? Is it natural phenomena, or is it pollution?

The city’s notoriously polluted air is one of the biggest question marks hanging over the Olympic games, which begin August 8. China hopes the event will dazzle the world. Will smoggy skies overshadow the party?

The Australian Olympic Committee’s Peter Montgomery says the air pollution concerns him and his team.

“For us, the athletes’ attitude to the event is paramount,” he said. If they don’t want to compete, fine. They will be absolutely under no pressure to compete if they feel uneasy or do not want to compete.”

Some Olympic delegations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee, are making protective masks available to their athletes.

Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau spokesman Du Shaozhong says his office has worked “very hard” to ensure the air quality.

Du says there is no need to wear a face mask when participating in the games. He says if the athletes insist on doing so, it will only end up an extra item in their luggage and make their luggage heavier……. ( more details from VOA News)

Posted in air, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Environment, Life, News, pollution, Sports, World | Comments Off on Air Pollution Still Troubles China Ahead of Olympics

China: 100 unidentified radioactive sources to move below quake lake

Posted by Author on June 1, 2008


AFP, May 30, 2008-

DUJIANGYAN, China (AFP) — China rushed Friday to remove radioactive and chemical materials sitting downstream from a “quake lake” that threatens to burst and send torrents of water into heavily populated areas.

Nearly 100 unidentified radioactive sources were ordered to be removed by Friday evening from the path of the potential torrent of water, state press reported, citing the nation’s environmental protection bureau.

“Moving those radioactive sources has become a top, urgent priority,” the Beijing Times quoted Ma Ning, a senior regional official at the bureau, as saying.

The directive to move the radioactive material came as authorities were already working to relocate about 5,000 tonnes of dangerous chemicals that were downstream of the lake at Tangjiashan.

Dealing with the “quake lake” has become one of the key challenges in the aftermath of the May 12 earthquake that devastated large tracts of mountainous Sichuan province, killing more than 68,500 people.

The lake was created when landslides triggered by the quake created a dam across a river in a valley.

Helicopters have been used to airlift supplies to hundreds of soldiers working to create a channel that can drain the lake, which contains enough water to fill over 50,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

After three days of non-stop efforts, the soldiers had dug a 50-metre (164-foot) wide channel 300 metres long, but despite the frantic pace the work would not be completed until next Thursday, the state-run China Daily reported.

More than a million people risk being affected if the Tanjiashan lake empties onto towns and villages downstream, and many residents have been doing regular drills to move quickly to higher ground.

By Saturday morning, close to 200,000 people were expected to have been evacuated from the area, the state-run China International Radio said Friday evening.

However, it was not the only area of Sichuan at risk. There were 33 other lakes created by the quake, 28 of which were at risk of bursting, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Other unexpected dangers also continued to arise amid the massive task of looking after the 15 million people made homeless in the quake.

Gas from a chemical fire in Leigu town, near the epicentre of the quake, poisoned four people and forced more than 800 to evacuate on Thursday, Xinhua reported, citing a local official.

The fire occurred when bleach powder, used as a disinfectant, self-ignited when it reacted with leaked rainwater, said Song Ming, Communist Party secretary for Beichuan county, one of the worst-hit areas.

The dense chlorine gas poisoned two rescue soldiers and two medical workers, who were taken to hospital, according to Xinhua.

No one was available at the environmental protection bureau on Friday to comment on the report about the radioactive sources that were being cleared.

But previous reports in the state press said these sources could emanate from machines used to test defects in the construction of bridges or boats, or from X-ray machines.

There were also several nuclear installations not used for electricity generation in areas near the epicentre of the quake, according to the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) in France.

These included a manufacturing site for nuclear weapons, as well as a nuclear reactor.

The government said last week that nuclear facilities and radioactive sites in Sichuan province were “safe and controllable.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said late Friday that authorities had dispatched thousands of people to inspect businesses in quake-hit areas, finding some with possible environmental risks.

Of 14,357 companies, including some 2,900 chemical firms, surveyed in Sichuan province, inspectors found 134 potential risks, Xinhua news agency said, quoting a statement on the ministry’s website on Friday.

Nearly 30 of the potential risks had been dealt with.

The ministry also said the province’s environmental quality remained stable and water was acceptable for drinking.

The death toll from the quake has reached 68,558, with another 18,618 missing, the government said Friday. Some 15 million people have been displaced in the disaster.

– Afp: China rushes to clear radioactive materials below quake lake

Posted in China, disaster, earthquake, Environment, Health, Life, News, Nuclear, pollution, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on China: 100 unidentified radioactive sources to move below quake lake

China: Protestor charged of ‘inciting subversion’ for against chemical plant in Chengdu City

Posted by Author on May 12, 2008


Reuters, Sun May 12, 2008-

BEIJING, May 12 (Reuters) Chinese authorities arrested one person on a charge of inciting subversion and warned or detained five for their roles in a protest in the southwest against plans for a petrochemical project, local media reported on Monday.

Police were seeking another two on charges of illegally demonstrating in Chengdu, capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, the Beijing News reported.

“The police accused them of using the Internet and other means to spread rumours, inciting trouble or illegally marching or demonstrating, or using the Internet to spread rumours and harmful information,” the report said.

About 200 people took to the streets last week to demonstrate against plans for the ethylene plant and oil refinery in Chengdu’s northern outskirts, an echo of a protest movement that forced the government to scrap plans for a chemical plant in the southern city of Xiamen.

In March, officials in Xiamen confirmed they would shift a proposed plant to make paraxylene, a petrochemical used in polyester and fabrics, after thousands took to the streets and forced a rare invitation from the government for public comment.

China’s Communist authorities frown on public protest, but demonstrations are becoming more common due to anger over official corruption and pollution and tensions between industrialisation and environmental concerns.

The Chengdu protesters, who news reports said were orderly and did not carry banners, worried the plant would lead to degradation of air and water quality.

The ethylene plant was due to produce 800,000 tonnes a year of the industrial compound commonly used in packaging and insulation.

The refinery, which would process 10 million tonnes of crude oil a year, had been approved by China’s top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, last year, the Beijing News earlier reported.

– Original from Reuters: China punishes 6 for protest against chemical plant

Posted in Business, Chengdu, China, City resident, Economy, Environment, Health, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, pollution, Protest, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on China: Protestor charged of ‘inciting subversion’ for against chemical plant in Chengdu City

China’s Killer “Yellow Dust” Hits Korea, Japan, Schools Closed

Posted by Author on March 4, 2008


By Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, March 3, 2008-

SEOUL, March 3 (Reuters) – South Korea closed schools on Monday and its factories producing memory chips stepped up safeguards, as a choking pall of sand mixed with toxic dust from China covered most of the country and other parts of Asia.

The annual “yellow dust” spring storms, which originate in China’s Gobi Desert before sweeping south to envelop the Korean peninsula and parts of Japan, are blamed for scores of deaths and billions of dollars in damage every year in South Korea.

It issued a yellow dust warning at the weekend. On Monday, school districts in southeastern regions urged parents to keep kindergarten and elementary school children at home.

“We advised the closure because kindergarten, primary school students have weaker immune systems,” said Min Eyu-gi, an education official in Busan.

An official with the Meteorological Administration said the first major storm of the season, which has also hit parts of Japan, was dissipating.

But forecasts from China said cold air and little rainfall would lead to more storms from Wednesday through March 11, Xinhua news agency reported.

Taiwan mostly avoids the toxic clouds but skies in Taipei on Monday were overcast, with the government telling people to wear surgical masks and avoid exercising outdoors.

In Japan, car drivers and train operators were asked to be on alert because the sandstorms had greatly reduced visibility.

The sand storms have been increasing in frequency and toxicity over the years because of China’s rapid economic growth and have added to increased tensions with neighbours South Korea and Japan over recent years.

The dust picks up heavy metals and carcinogens such as dioxin as it passes over Chinese industrial regions, before hitting North and South Korea and Japan, meteorologists say.

Dry weather and seasonal winds in China hurl millions of tonnes of sand at the Korean peninsula and Japan from late February through April or May, turning the skies to a jaundiced hue.

The state-sponsored Korea Environment Institute said the dust kills up to 165 South Koreans a year, mostly the elderly or those with respiratory ailments, and makes as many as 1.8 million ill.

Annual economic damage to South Korea from the storms is estimated at up to 5.5 trillion won ($5.82 billion), according to the institute.

Hynix Semiconductor Inc, the world’s second-biggest maker of memory chips, said it has had to step up its filtration systems and make employees take longer air showers to make sure the dust does not contaminate its production lines and damage chips, made using technology that operates on a microscopic level.

South Korean retailers, however, have spotted an opportunity, offering special scarves, hats and other accessories for the yellow dust season. ($1=944.5 won)

Original report from  Reuters

Posted in air, Asia, China, disaster, Economy, Environment, Health, Japan, Life, News, pollution, South Korea, World | Comments Off on China’s Killer “Yellow Dust” Hits Korea, Japan, Schools Closed

Citing Weather Information As State Secrets, China Refuses Asia Countries To Release Data On Yellow Sand

Posted by Author on February 19, 2008


The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan, Feb. 18, 2008-

A plan for Japan, China, South Korea and Mongolia to observe and forecast airborne desert sand has been hampered as China has withdrawn from the scheme, citing weather information as state secrets.

The Environment Ministry’s Web site, which is to release forecasts on so-called yellow sand to the public, will start the service later this month as planned, but without the cooperation of the country where most of the sand originates.

According to ministry sources, with China reneging on its promise of cooperation by refusing to provide data, the system’s observation and forecast accuracy will be insufficient.

Between March and May every year, large quantities of yellow sand are sent airborne from the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts, with much of it catching westerly winds that carry it toward Japan, causing numerous problems in places the sand passes over.

In China and South Korea, many residents suffer from respiratory problems due to the sand. In Japan, mainly in Kyushu, laundry is often tinged yellow by the sand and the percentage of faulty products made by precision machinery factories has increased.

According to the Fukuoka Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, when the sand was observed in the prefecture early last April, the concentration of dust in the air exceeded normal levels across the prefecture and the air took on a brownish tint.

The Meteorological Agency currently releases data on airborne yellow sand obtained from observations at 85 sites across the nation. But these observations are done visually, meaning airborne sand is only noted when it reaches the nation. These observations alone cannot accurately forecast the level of yellow sand approaching Japan.

The ministry began testing yellow sand forecasts on its Web site last spring.

Starting later this month, the ministry had planned to release more detailed sand forecasts based on data from one observation site in China, one in South Korea, three in Mongolia and 10 in Japan.

The information to be released by the ministry was to include actual quantities of airborne sand from near ground level up to six kilometers up. It also was to model how the sand is spread.

The Chinese observation site was to be in Beijing, which is right on the main path of yellow sand headed to Japan, making a Beijing observation post essential.

But in April, just before the start of a test run of the international system, Beijing suddenly notified Tokyo of its refusal to provide the data. China had enacted a law prohibiting bringing any weather observation data to be provided overseas, saying weather observation information as a state secret that affects national security and interests.

The situation has remained unchanged since then, forcing the ministry to forecast yellow sand quantities starting later this month without information on how much sand has been stirred up in China.

China also canceled in May a plan to improve its observation network with seven more facilities to be built with official development assistance from Japan.

Japan canceled a 250 million yen worth of grants in aid earmarked in fiscal 2006 for the cooperation.

In January, Japan, China and South Korea started joint research on yellow sand, but as the situation currently stands, data on the origin of the sand is only available from Mongolia. The limited data is expected to hamper future research.

An official of the ministry’s Global Environmental Issues Division said, “We heard from the Chinese side that it would be difficult to allow the information to be publicized on the Internet, even if data could be provided for joint research being done for the Beijing Olympics being held this year.”

Since 2000, the number of days when yellow sand was observed has rapidly increased. Increased deforestation and desertification caused by excessive livestock breeding has been cited as a cause.

Original report from The Yomiuri Shimbun

Posted in air, Asia, China, Climate, Environment, Health, Japan, News, Politics, pollution, South Korea, World | 1 Comment »

Dry, Polluted, Plagued by Rats: The Crisis in China’s Greatest Yangtze River

Posted by Author on January 19, 2008


Jonathan Watts in Beijing, The Guardian, UK, Thursday January 17 2008-

The waters of the Yangtze have fallen to their lowest levels since 1866, disrupting drinking supplies, stranding ships and posing a threat to some of the world’s most endangered species.

Asia’s longest river is losing volume as a result of a prolonged dry spell, the state media warned yesterday, predicting hefty economic losses and a possible plague of rats on nearby farmland.

News of the drought – which is likely to worsen pollution in the river – comes amid dire reports about the impact of rapid economic growth on China’s environment.

The government also revealed yesterday that the country’s most prosperous province, Guangdong, has just had its worst year of smog since the Communist party took power in 1949, while 56,000 square miles of coastline waters failed to meet environmental standards.

But the immediate concern is the Yangtze, which supplies water to hundreds of millions of people and thousands of factories in a delta that accounts for more than 40% of China’s economic output. According to the Chinese media, precipitation and water levels are at or near record lows in its middle and upper stretches.

The scale of the problem was revealed by the Yangtze water resources commission in a report on the Xinhua news agency’s website yesterday. It said that the Hankou hydrological centre near Wuhan city found the river’s depth had fallen to its lowest level in 142 years.

The measurement confirmed fears raised in recent weeks by the appearance of islands and mud flats not normally seen at this time of year. Local farmers reported far more ships than usual being trapped in unnavigable shallow waters.

Jianli county is among the areas suffering water shortages. Officials say the problem has grown worse in the past decade, raising concerns of a link to climate change.

“Before 1996, we were short of water for three months of the year, but now there are only three months when we can use water as normal,” Wu Chunping, the vice-manager of Jianli county’s water utility, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. “I heard that the water level will drop further in February.”

Li Lifeng, director of the freshwater programme of WWF China, said: “The major worry is for aquatic species and birds. If the water level goes too low they will lose a huge level of habitat.”

Among the endangered animals likely to be affected are the finless porpoise and the Chinese sturgeon, which returns to the sea at this time of year.

With the Yangtze three times as crowded with traffic as the Mississippi, conservationists fear the animals will be torn up by boat propellers or contaminated by more concentrated pollution from the 9,000 chemical plants along the Yangtze. Birds such as the Siberian crane may also suffer from the impact on their wintering area.

Local media have expressed concern that the drought could lead to a plague of rats similar to the one near Dongting lake last year after a drought was followed by fast-rising waters that drove the vermin to seek food in farm fields. “When the waters fall, the reeds die and the rats are driven inland in search of food,” said an official in the Yueyang farming and aquatic bureau who declined to give his name.

Original report from the Guardian

Posted in Central China, China, disaster, Drought, Environment, Health, Hubei, Life, News, Plague, pollution, River, Social, transport, water, World, Wuhan, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »

China: Hundreds Protest Shanghai Maglev Rail Extension, Dozens Detained

Posted by Author on January 15, 2008


By Royston Chan and Sophie Taylor, Reuters, Sat Jan 12, 2008-

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Hundreds of people marched through China’s financial hub of Shanghai on Saturday protesting a planned extension of the city’s magnetic levitation train, or “maglev”, worried it would emit radiation and sicken them.

Police initially detained dozens of people, bundling them into waiting cars, vans and buses, as protesters gathered in front of city hall shouting “We don’t want the maglev” and carrying placards reading: “No to maglev — bad for health”.

“We are afraid how the radiation will affect us. Why does the government not listen to our concerns?” said a protester surnamed Guan, adding the extension would pass within 100 meters (328 ft) of her house.

As police cordoned off the city government in People’s Square, once home to a race track in Shanghai’s colonial heyday, demonstrators took off down the fashionable Nanjing Road shopping area.

The protest was the largest the cosmopolitan and wealthy city has seen since thousands took to the streets in sometimes violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in 2005.

“I’m marching against the proposed line as it’s too close to town. It’s going to be noisy and emit pollution,” said another protester, who would only give his family name, Liu.

“If you have a house near the line, you will not be able to sell it for as much money,” he added.

Some demonstrators handed out anti-Nazi resistance poems in German, while others sang the Chinese national anthem.

In a prepared statement, a spokesman for the Shanghai city government said authorities had “persuaded” the protesters to disperse because they were affecting public order.

He said the government was still in the process of showing to the public a proposal for the maglev project, which would help to improve the transport system of the city and the whole country.

“We hope city residents will go through legal channels to express their opinions rationally, and not use methods that affect public order,” he added.

The protest gradually dispersed peacefully under a light drizzle in the early evening. The police kept their distance as people left.

The country is grappling with an acknowledged rise in unrest, driven by anger at illegal land grabs, corruption, environmental woes and a rising rich-poor gap, though large scale protests in big cities are rare.

“Yes, it’s an illegal protest. But we’ve been pushed into a corner,” said another protester……. ( more details from Reuters: Hundreds protest Shanghai maglev rail extension)

Posted in China, City resident, East China, Environment, Health, Human Rights, Incident, Law, Life, News, People, pollution, Protest, shanghai, Social, transport, World | Comments Off on China: Hundreds Protest Shanghai Maglev Rail Extension, Dozens Detained

Google Earth Pictures: Polluted Water in China Discharged into Rivers

Posted by Author on January 12, 2008


Ri Zhao City

Above: Ri Zhao City, Shandong Province, east China

Suzhou City, Zhejiang Province, South East China

Above: Suzhou City, Zhejiang Province, South East China

Wu Xi City

Above: Wu Xi City, Jiang Su province, south China

Tian Jin City

Above: Tian Jin City, east China

Wei Fang City, Shandong province

Above: Wu Fang City, Shandong Province, east China

Xia Men City

Above: Xia Men City, Fu Jian Province, southeast China

He Fei City

Above: He Fei City, An hui province, east China

(All photos are from the Epochtimes’ website)

Posted in Anhui, China, East China, Environment, Fujian, Health, Hefei, Life, News, pollution, River, Shandong, South China, waste, water, World, Xiamen | Comments Off on Google Earth Pictures: Polluted Water in China Discharged into Rivers

Protector of Lake Loses Appeal in China Court

Posted by Author on November 9, 2007


By JOSEPH KAHN, New York Times, November 6, 2007-

BEIJING, Nov. 5 — A prominent Chinese environmental leader has lost his appeal of a three-year conviction on blackmail and fraud charges, according to his wife and his lawyer, even as the authorities promised to invest billions to clean up the lake he fought for years to protect.

A court in Wuxi, in eastern Jiangsu Province, upheld the conviction of Wu Lihong, who became well known around China for seeking to prevent chemical companies from dumping untreated waste in Lake Tai, China’s third-largest freshwater lake. The ruling was made Friday, his wife and his lawyer said Monday.

Mr. Wu, his lawyer and many of his colleagues in the area’s environmental movement said the charges of blackmail and fraud had been concocted by local officials to put him behind bars, after his protests against their collusion with chemical companies attracted widespread news media attention.

Mr. Wu said during his first trial in August that the police had tortured him until he confessed, but judges decided that his confession remained valid. The appeals court in Wuxi did not grant his request for a second trial and rejected the appeal without holding a hearing.

The case showed how the Chinese authorities had tightened controls on outspoken, grass-roots environmental leaders even as they vow to do more to reduce pollution.

A toxic algal bloom on Lake Tai this summer, which officials later said was caused in part by runoff from chemical companies, led to a cutoff of drinking water to several million people for several days in May. Amid national outrage, local officials vowed to close hundreds of chemical manufacturers, and the authorities said they would invest $14.4 billion to restore the lake, one of the biggest environmental cleanups in Chinese history.

Mr. Wu was already in custody when the outbreak began. His prosecution was delayed during the algae crisis, but as news media attention subsided, the local authorities held a one-day trial and found him guilty.

Original report from the New York Times

Posted in Activist, China, East China, Environment, Jiangsu, Lake, Law, News, People, pollution, Social, waste, World | Comments Off on Protector of Lake Loses Appeal in China Court

Polluted China: Deformed Baby Born Every 30 Seconds

Posted by Author on October 30, 2007


AFP, Oct. 30, 2007-

BEIJING (AFP) — Birth defects in heavily polluted China have increased by nearly 40 percent since 2001, with a deformed baby born every 30 seconds, state media reported on Tuesday.

The rate of defects appeared to increase near the country’s countless coal mines, which produce the bulk of China’s energy but are also responsible for serious air and water pollution, the China Daily newspaper said, quoting government officials.

Birth defects nationwide have increased from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001 to 145.5 last year, it said, citing a report by the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

They affect about one million of the 20 million babies born every year, with about 300,000 babies suffering from “visible deformities.”…… ( more details from AFP report: Birth defects soar in polluted China)

Posted in Children, China, Environment, Health, News, People, pollution, Social, World | 1 Comment »

China’s terracotta warriors masked by Eco protestor in London

Posted by Author on October 18, 2007


AFP, Oct.16, 2007-
LONDON (AFP) — An environmental protestor put anti-pollution face masks on at least two of China’s terracotta warriors at an exhibition in London, to highlight China’s pollution record, a report said Monday.

Martin Wyness jumped over barriers to place the masks bearing the slogan “CO2 emission polluter” on the warriors, some 20 of whom have been on display at the British Museum since last month, the Evening Standard reported.

“I did it because I have got two children and I am very very concerned about the global inaction over climate change, particularly what is happening in China,” he told the paper, which printed pictures of the be-masked warriors.

The 49-year-old, who staged the protest during a visit to the museum with his daughters Ruby and Sophie, was dragged away by security guards.

“I saw the man climb over the barriers. He was totally calm and silent. None of the security staff had any idea what was going on,” witness Amelia Hanratty told the paper.

“They only found out when a member of the public alerted them. Two dashed over and frogmarched him away. He could have damaged the soldiers but he didn’t do anything to them except put on the masks.”

A Chinese official accompanying the warriors during the show is checking the statues, while Wyness has been banned from the British Museum for life.

– Original report from AFP: Eco protestor puts masks on China’s terracotta warriors

Posted in Activist, air, China, Chinese Culture, Environment, Life, News, NW China, People, pollution, Shaanxi, UK, World, Xi’an | Comments Off on China’s terracotta warriors masked by Eco protestor in London

China to Relocate 100,000 Tibetan Nomads From Grasslands Into Towns

Posted by Author on October 3, 2007


BBC News, Tuesday, 2 October 2007-

China is ordering 100,000 nomadic Tibetans to move from grasslands into towns and villages in a bid to protect the environment, state media said.

The Tibetans are being relocated to protect the source area of key Chinese rivers in north-west China’s Qinghai province, Xinhua news agency reported.

The grasslands are suffering from overgrazing, desertification and the effects of climate change, it said.

Some 60,000 people will be moved by year-end and 40,000 more by 2010.

Housing will be provided for all those forced to move, Xinhua said, but the head of one Tibetan community said it was not an easy process.

Tibetan lifestyle

Qinghai province is a source for both the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, but experts have warned of a crisis over water supply.

Climate change is melting glaciers that feed the rivers and subterranean water supplies have been reduced by increased population and industrialisation, experts say.

The relocation programme, aimed at restoring the ecology of the grasslands, is China’s biggest resettlement project, Xinhua said.

Those who move will be given accommodation and greenhouses in which to grow vegetables, Li Xiaonan, an official in charge of the project, told the agency.

But the BBC’s James Reynolds, in Beijing, says that it appears that the nomads have no choice in the matter.

The ruling communist party says that everyone affected is being offered compensation, but that is unlikely to satisfy Tibetans, our correspondent says.

Many argue that China has been determined for many years to destroy their way of life as a people.

Environmentalists suggest that if China is really keen on protecting its environment it should focus its efforts on cleaning up its polluted rivers and reducing its carbon emissions, our correspondent says.

– Original report from BBC news: China to relocate Tibetan nomads

Posted in China, Climate, Economy, Environment, ethnic, housing, Life, News, NW China, People, Politics, pollution, Qinghai, Religion, Religious, River, Social, Tibetan, World | Comments Off on China to Relocate 100,000 Tibetan Nomads From Grasslands Into Towns

Underground Water Table Sinks 4 Feet a Year in North China City

Posted by Author on October 2, 2007


By JIM YARDLEY, New York Times, September 28, 2007-

SHIJIAZHUANG, China — Hundreds of feet below ground, the primary water source for this provincial capital of more than two million people is steadily running dry. The underground water table is sinking about four feet a year. Municipal wells have already drained two-thirds of the local groundwater.

Above ground, this city in the North China Plain is having a party. Economic growth topped 11 percent last year. Population is rising. A new upscale housing development is advertising waterfront property on lakes filled with pumped groundwater. Another half-built complex, the Arc de Royal, is rising above one of the lowest points in the city’s water table.

“People who are buying apartments aren’t thinking about whether there will be water in the future,” said Zhang Zhongmin, who has tried for 20 years to raise public awareness about the city’s dire water situation.

For three decades, water has been indispensable in sustaining the rollicking economic expansion that has made China a world power. Now, China’s galloping, often wasteful style of economic growth is pushing the country toward a water crisis. Water pollution is rampant nationwide, while water scarcity has worsened severely in north China — even as demand keeps rising everywhere.

China is scouring the world for oil, natural gas and minerals to keep its economic machine humming. But trade deals cannot solve water problems. Water usage in China has quintupled since 1949, and leaders will increasingly face tough political choices as cities, industry and farming compete for a finite and unbalanced water supply……. (more details from New York Times: Beneath Booming Cities, China’s Future Is Drying Up)

Posted in China, Economy, Environment, Hebei, News, North China, Shijiazhuang, Social, waste, World | Comments Off on Underground Water Table Sinks 4 Feet a Year in North China City

Pollution Causes Millions of Abnormal Babies in China

Posted by Author on September 23, 2007


The Epoch Times, Sep 21, 2007-

Every year, about 800,000 to 1.2 million babies with abnormalities are born in China. A baby with abnormalities arrives every 30 seconds. The main reason is pollution, but its impact on human health has been a low priority with Chinese communist officials.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the regime’s official media, China has a high rate of babies born with abnormalities. Birth defects occur in 4 to 6 percent of all new-born babies. Among them, approximately 220,000 babies have congenital heart disease; 100,000 have neural tube defects; 50,000 have cleft lip; and 30,000 have Down’s Syndrome.

To prevent further increases in birth abnormalities, Chinese authorities set Sept. 12 as “a day to prevent birth deficiencies.” This year marked the second anniversary of this event.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Health, a third of deficient babies die after birth. Birth deficiencies have impacted a tenth of Chinese families, resulting in the financial burden of 1 billion yuan RMB (approximately US$133 million).

Experts from the National Center for Women and Children’s Health said the main reasons for the increase in the birth deficiency rate are pollution, an unhealthy lifestyle, and a delay in having babies. The birth deficiency rate in China is three times that of developed countries.

Communist Regime Classifies Environmental Pollution a Sensitive Issue

After 30 years of economic growth, China has now become the most polluted country in the world. Recently, China has experienced continuous public protests regarding environmental pollution. However, the communist regime regards environmental pollution a sensitive issue, limiting media reports on the subject.

Britain’s Financial Times reported in July that the regime asked the World Bank to delete a sensitive part in their report on environmental pollution in China.

The sensitive part included figures of nearly 750,000 Chinese deaths due to air and water pollution. The highest cause of pollution-related deaths is polluted city air. Every year there are 35.4 million premature deaths due to air pollution. The problem is particularly serious in big cities.

Original report from the Epochtimes

Posted in Children, China, Environment, Family, Health, Life, News, People, pollution, Social, World | Comments Off on Pollution Causes Millions of Abnormal Babies in China

An National Issue of China: 300 Million People Drinking Polluted Water

Posted by Author on September 11, 2007


ChinaScope Magazine, Tue, 09/11/2007-

The “The Law to Prevent and Treat Water Pollution (modified draft) of the People’s Republic of China” was publicized on September 5, 2007. In the just ended 10th NPC Standing Committee meeting on September 29, water pollution was placed as an issue of national survival. [1]

The director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, Zhou Shengxian, stated that half of the cities in China have severely polluted groundwater; 300 million people in the rural areas are drinking water with safety problems. In some areas, “all the rivers have dried and all the water has been polluted.”

Of China’s seven major river systems, the Songhua River, the Yellow River, and the Huai River are moderately polluted; while the Liao River and the Hai River are severely polluted. Water pollution has become a general problem.

According to a field visit by the NPC Environmental Committee in July, the speed of treating polluted water is far slower than the speed of pollution.

“When I was in my childhood, the water in the Yangtze River was clear and tasted sweet. Now it is not good,” a committee member who grew up on the riverside said. “We found that there are lots of floating things in the Three Gorges Dam, people can even stand on them.”

Economic development and environmental protection is a dilemma for local governments. A committee member, Jia Zhijie, said that Western countries had the lesson of pollution then treatment, whereas “we not only could not avoid the mistake, but have made a bigger mistake.”

“The pollution is a result of profit pursuing. However, the cost to treat the water pollution will be more than a dozen times the profit we have gained,” Jia also stated. “For example, to hold the World Horticultural Expo in Yunan, large amounts of money was spent to treat the Dianchi Lake pollution. However, 5 billion yuan was not enough, now they are asking for another 10 billion, which, however, still does not guarantee to completely treat the pollution.”

According to the statistics of the State Environmental Protection Administration, in 2005 there were 1406 accidents of environmental pollution in China, of which 693 (49.2%) were water pollution.

Water pollution accidents are usually not reported in a timely manner. For example, pollution in the Songhua River in 2005 was not publicized during the first 8 days.

The local governments usually push away their responsibilities. They often say that “the pollution came from upstream.” [1]

– Original report from chinascope.org : Water Safety Problems Afflict 300 Million People, the Chinese NPC Standing Committee Regard It an Issue of National Survival

Posted in China, Environment, Food, Health, Life, News, People, pollution, River, Rural, Social, water, World | 1 Comment »