19 March 2014

China Is Hurting Itself

C writes:*

Nowadays, China is facing one of the most crucial factors of environmental issues, which is called “Wu Mai” (that is “haze” in Chinese). According to the WWF, in recent decades, China has suffered from many different kinds of environmental problems. Also in the article, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson claimed that “China produces a new coal-fired power station every week, and will be the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide by 2030”.

As a Chinese citizen, without angry, I was quite nervous and sad after my father told me many stories, which happened in my hometown---Nanjing. For example, people are debating the best model numbers of 3M masks to buy through the Internet, and many of them make use of air purifiers to clean the indoor air, same as my parents.

Generally, everything of value has a cost. China’s economy has developed rapidly, but at a price. Power plants, factories and heavy industries are all belching out black, dirty air, at the cost of people health and our environment. However, if everyone is sick, are there any benefits to improve the economic growth? Back to the history, what Beijing is experiencing nowadays, is quite similar to what happened in London 1952 when a temperature inversion combined with emissions from domestic coal fires to kill thousands of people, which including many young and old people. Eventually, London had spent almost 30 years to bring the pollution under control; but it may take more time for China unless the Chinese government recognizes the trade off between economic development and environmental equity.

Bottom Line: Chinese government needs to combat air pollution crisis

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


  1. Nice story! Those "Wu Mai" are burned coals usually formed by the manufactory. In my opinion, China government should also consider income inequality problem.

  2. Yuling Hou said...
    I was attracted by the title which is "China is hurting itself" which make me want to figure out what is happening in china according to this blog. and it is smart to use your family have suffered form haze as a example to address how the environmental problem is effect to households.
    as my perspective, Chinese government should not scarifies people's health to accomplish better performance of economic growth. Chinese are suffering from bad environment, that is why so many Chinese are eager to moving to another country where has the fresh air and blue sky. as far as know,Chinese government is restricting the immigration population to avoid the capital outflow to foreign countries,because a lots of wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs are planning to relocate to another country since the environment getting worse in china. as a result, the Chinese will lose confident to Chinese government if the government don't take action to combat air pollution issue. let us think about it, if Chinese are not willing of being a Chinese, then how can China grows stronger.

  3. It's a tradeoff between rapid economic growth and environment issue. I think China, a developing country, needs to go through these steps to become a developed country just like London. But they should start to consider about the environmental issue. It's really not China's own problem but the whole world's problem. Other countries should try to help China go though it with lowest cost.

  4. To me that it is not 100% responsibility from China because if we step back and think about the manufactures and factories, the actual "boss" who places all the orders are not only companies within China. In other words, companies like Apple or Walmart are "exploiting" the lower labuor cost in China to build these manufacturing plants for their productions, and then export the products back to North America or Europe for higher sale price. I mean, imagine without Apple or Walmart, would there be same amount of manufacturing plants in China? Maybe, the question is maybe these mega companies will look for other low labour cost countries, and if that happens, those countries would end up being the "China" nowadays. I am not trying to blame these mega companies here, but if we think about it, it is NOT ONLY China polluting the world and itself, every countries that contributes to these manufacturing plants should bare responsibilities in some degree. I like all the new technology gadgets that come out every year and all the cheap appliances in Walmart, but if those are produced at a cost of damaging the environment, maybe I won't even have the chance to enjoy new gadgets when I get old because I may just die from global pollutions and such.

  5. Humanity's work in progress of various energy platforms finds China leading the way with visions of He3 cold fusion. Some are considering the next platform of anti-matter! No need to fault one country in our race against time, we're all hoping to survive dirty energy until clean is here. Join BRICS for progress and cooperation going forward to an abundant clean life as befits our species.


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