Health situation and ecological tensions in China

by Sabrina on 週一, 26 五 2008 評論
Problems of health and anxieties related to the environment are part of the same equation. The WHO considers that 17% of deaths in the western region of the Pacific – a region where the Chinese population is huge - are linked to one or even more ecological health risks.

The link between social tensions and environmental problems was strikingly illustrated by the demonstrations which occurred in Xiamen in May-June 2007. The people came onto the streets to oppose the construction of a giant petrochemical complex intended to produce parayxlene, a substance used in the manufacture of polyesters and dangerous for the health of those exposed to it without protection. At the end of a mass campaign which saw about a million telephone messages exchanged (and after the closure of the internet sites which denounced this construction), the deputy mayor had declared that the project was suspended temporarily. But the inhabitants continued their pressure to try to ensure that the project would be abandoned for good.

In May-June, 2007, Wuxi, an industrial centre in the Yangtze delta, the urban area of which contains 6 million people, had a water shortage for several days because of the proliferation of algae in Lake Taihu. The heat, combined with continuous discharge of a large part of the town’s sewage into the lake and the pollution from the factories, had contributed to the development of this green slick, which was finally controlled after sixty thousand tonnes of algae had been cleared.(1) There had already been a spectacular illustration of this in the serious incidents of pollution of water courses which occurred in
November and December 2005 at Harbin and close to Canton.(2) And the history of these repeated catastrophes points to structural failure:(3) China’s ecological crisis could not be overestimated.

One can see how the health, environmental and social problems must be grasped as a whole. The “Report on the implementation of the project for national economic and social development” from 2006 and the “Sketch of the 2007 Plan for national economic and social development” describe quite well the overall situation, as perceived by the Party-State:
“The need to save energy and to reduce pollution is extremely urgent because pressures on resources and the environment are continuing to grow. (…) Public opinion is expressing serious concerns as to the lack of accessibility and the excessive cost of medical care and education. There are also serious problems on the subject of the safety of food and drugs, housing, distribution of incomes, public safety and production. Other problems which have a negative impact on people’s interests include restructuring of enterprises, demolition of homes and rehousing in urban sectors, acquisition of lands and expropriations and
protection of the environment”.(4) Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize-winner for Economics, often uses a comparison to indicate the nature of the Chinese problem: “Although Chinese economic growth has been much faster than in India since the economic reforms of 1979, life expectancy in India has increased about three times faster than in China. In 1979, life expectancy for a Chinese was 14 years longer than for an Indian. It is now only seven years longer. Some regions of the country,
like the province of Kerala, now have an advance of four years over China in terms of life expectancy. In 1979, China and Kerala had exactly the same rates of infant mortality – 37 per 1,000. In Kerala today the infant mortality rate has fallen from 37 to 10, while the figure in China has fallen from 37 to 30”.(5)

(1) Xinhua press agency, 15 June 2007.
(2) Note at the same time that the catastrophe which occurred at Harbin was to accelerate the completion of major improvement works carried out along the Songhua river, one of the most polluted rivers in the country.
(3) The case of the River Huai, which provides the entry on the subject in the book by Elizabeth Economy, is particularly striking. Cf. E. Economy, "The River Runs Black", Cornell U.P., 2004.
(5) http://www/ The comparison between Kerala and China has often been repeated by A. Sen on the basis of his work, "Development as Freedom, and other essays on the concept of human development".

Attached media :
{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/slideshow_en.jpg|}media/articles/Sabrina_ChinahealthEnvironment.swf{/rokbox}





« 九月 2020 »
星期一 星期二 星期三 星期四 星期五 星期六 星期日
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

目前有 8962 個訪客 以及 沒有會員 在線上