China’s Environmental Crisis

Charles F. Bingman

Abstract


Economic development in China means breakneck urbanization, heavy concentration on manufacturing, greatly expanded coal fired electrical power generation pollutants, heavy metals dumped into the air, and nasty chemicals dumped into the water.  Heavy metals in the water are highly concentrated – 2,000 times as high as the official government standard.  Japan and Korea are suffering from acid rain produced by China’s coal power electricity plants, and from dust storms carrying toxic dust.  Scarce water resources are simply being recklessly dissipated. All of these problems are heavy contributors to environmental failures and crises, and all have been known by the government from the very beginning. The problem of environmental pollution was first addressed at a national conference on the subject in 1973, and six years later, the National People’s Congress passed the Environmental Protection Law. Five years after that, in 1984, the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) was formed.  In 1998 it was promoted to ministerial level as the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) under the State Council. The law was amended to require environmental impact studies for all major construction projects and for imposing stiff fines for violations.  Many environmental groups were started, and public opinion polls were almost unanimous in calling for stricter enforcement.

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