China has a history of very lax environmental regulation, as their economy has boomed they have surpassed the United States in CO2 emissions. They produce a huge amount of steel and cement and rely heavily on coal power. Chinese leaders claim to be serious about environmental issues though – they have signed the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer as well as the Kyoto Protocol. Although they are not bound to reduce carbon emissions because they are still considered a developing country. China’s environmental protection laws are improving but it appears there is a problem with enforcement, according to Greenpeace China.
A big future challenge for China will be dealing with environmental regulation, or lack thereof. China is notorious for its air pollution: Hong Kong’s air pollution has hit a record in March, so much that the government had issued a warning advising citizens not to go outside.
Corruption in local government plays a large part, too. Many local businesses have pressured hospitals and the media to look the other way. Despite the national government being strict about environmental protection, many local governments have swayed in favor of the businesses.
Unfortunately, environmental protection is not at the top of China’s priority list, despite what they’ve claimed. There is a lot of things that happen there that I’m sure they don’t wish to get out; remember that last Olympic games in Beijing? There were so many media rumors flying around about China itself during that time that at times it became a PR nightmare. Many of the athletes refused to train there because of the horrible air quality. I remember visiting Beijing and Hong Kong some years ago, and I can say for certain that pollution was not on their to-do list at the time. I hope that they are sincere about cleaning up their pollution, because while their industry is massive in scale, so is its health risks.
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