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1,000,000/year killed by Chinese pollution; Chinese environmental protests, media blackout

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
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
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

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Dean E. Sizemore- 09/06/2007 13:47:42
It's comforting to know that the citizens of China are joining together to fight for a cleaner and safer environment. Every nation should follow suit. If the nations of the world don't join together to clean up our world, the future of the generations that follow us is bleak. Is this the legacy we want to leave behind?

 rhstracey@gmail.com- 09/06/2007 14:12:22
I have lived in Xiamen and love it dearly. It is very different to the rest of China. Good luck to the protesters, if I was still there I would have been walking with them. Wow! Has that mayor "lost face", and deservedly so, it was a crazy plan to even consider it!

Katrin Verclas- 09/06/2007 20:06:05
Sam -- can we have permission to repost you post to mobileactive dot org -- a community site of activists and NGO practitioners around the world who are using mobile phones in their work. Thanks for your consideration! Katrin Vercas, katrin at mobileactive dot org or katrin at nten dot org

Katrin Skyrme- 16/06/2007 08:46:41
Personally, I have never agreed with the decision to award China the Olympic Games on the grounds of its environmental, and human rights issues. With the latest reports of prison labour, this just compounds any justification to boycott China thus effecting its economy. As China has become such a market led economy, surely the only method of protest that will have any impact in order for them to notice is on a profits and loss spreadsheet. This economy is, I believe a veritable timebomb waiting to implode. How can a communist country successfully drive an almost neo-liberal, capitalistic economy? Tiananmen Square? Watch this space.

 http://www.theecologist.org/archive_detail.asp?open=y&content_id=953#3279


4.

William McDonough on Cradle to Cradle design, To Design Sustainable City infrastructures based on Cradle To Cradle, for Chinese Government
Length: 20:11
Posted: Apr 2007
 http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/104

Architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account "All children, all species, for all time." A tireless proponent of absolute sustainability (with a deadpan sense of humor), he explains his philosophy of "cradle to cradle" design, which bridge the needs of ecology and economics. He also shares some of his most inspiring work, including the world's largest green roof (at the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan), and the entire sustainable cities he's designing in China.