Myanmar Returns to What Sells: Heroin

Thomas Fuller
New York Times
A decade ago, Myanmar seemed on course to wipe out the opium fields and heroin jungle labs along its eastern border, the notorious Golden Triangle.

Other

12.30.14

A Look Back at 2014

It’s hard to believe, but ChinaFile is almost two years old. It’s been an exciting year for us, and, as ever, an eventful year for China. It was a year of muscular leadership from Xi Jinping, who has now been in office just over two years and who...

Video

12.15.14

Down to the Countryside

Sun Yunfan & Leah Thompson
The world has heard much of late about the scale and scope of China’s mass migration from the poor rural countryside to its booming cities. Some think the number of these migrant workers will soon reach some 400 million souls. They have created...

China’s Double-Edged Pact

Martin Adams
New York Times
Whether China is a climate hero or a climate villain is a matter of polarized debate. At one extreme, the world’s biggest carbon-emitter is portrayed as a wasteful bogeyman that obstructs efforts to halt global warming and “steals” clean-tech jobs...

China’s Water Diversion Project Starts to Flow to Beijing

Jonathan Kaiman
Guardian
The project has roots in an offhand comment by Mao Zedong who, on an inspection tour in the early 1950s, said: “The south has plenty of water, but the north is dry. If we could borrow some, that would be good.”

Environmental Filmmakers Have Rare Impact in China

Louise Watt
Associated Press
One clip shows a girl swatting flies from a younger child among piles of trash. Another has children blowing up used medical gloves like balloons. The footage is on the computer screen of Wang Jiuliang as he edits his second film about waste harming...

Environment

12.05.14

The Great Lake in Danger

Wilfredo Miranda Aburto & Carlos Herrera from Confidencial
Southwest of the Maderas volcano, where the Rivas coast is a line fading into the distance, Lake Cocibolca’s inmensity is on prominent display: breezes softly comb stretches of water that are seemingly endless. Sonar has marked this as the deepest...

Environment

12.05.14

A Catastrophe for Nicaragua’s Great Lake

Carlos F. Chamorro from Confidencial
Eighty years old, with more than a dozen books on national geography and natural resources to his name, he is the most authoritative voice in the country on environmental issues. Jaime Incer Barquero, former Minister of the Environment and Natural...

Environment

12.04.14

Indian Critics of Tibet’s First Dam ‘Exaggerating’ Dangers

from chinadialogue
Tibet’s first major dam, the Zangmu hydropower station, started generating electricity at the end of November. This prompted complaints from Indian media that Chinese dam building on the Yarlung Zangbo River could reduce water flow and cause...

Barack Obama “Would Not Want Your Kids Growing Up in Beijing”

Steven Schwankert
Beijinger
Ouch. It was bad enough when Louis CK described Beijing as a "giant Dayton, Ohio" on David Letterman's show, following his visit to our fair city for a secret performance...

Caixin Media

12.02.14

Clearing the Air With a Sino-U.S. Climate Pact

A long-anticipated, Sino-U.S. agreement aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions was announced on November 12 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing.The deal marked a surprise turn toward compromise for the world's largest...

Environment

11.26.14

The People’s Republic of Chemicals

from chinadialogue
The name of China is almost obscured by a grey smudge on the title page of The People’s Republic of Chemicals, and this image proves to be apt.  This book examines the crisis caused by toxic&...

Despite Persecution, Guardian of Lake Tai Spotlights China’s Polluters

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
ZHOUTIE, China — By autumn, the stench of Lake Tai and the freakish green glow of its waters usually fade with the ebbing of the summer heat, but this year is different. Standing on a concrete embankment overlooking a fetid, floating array of...

Caixin Media

11.24.14

At Factory Waste Ponds, Fumes Choke Fantasies

Deep in the Tengger Desert, near a community of cattle herders about 700 kilometers west of Beijing, pipes from a complex of coal processing and chemical factories once spewed slimy wastewater into six ponds.The "evaporation ponds" were...

Sinica Podcast

11.22.14

Banned but Booming: Golf in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Despite China's legal moratorium on the development of the golf industry, a policy driven by concerns over illegal farmland seizures and the potential misallocation of agricultural land and water resources, the golf industry has experienced an...

Report: Chinese Diplomats & Officials Tied to Ivory Trade in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
A recent report by the U.K.-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) alleges Chinese diplomats and officials have been directly involved in the ivory trade in Africa. Most damaging, the EIA reports that even some members of visiting Chinese...

Viewpoint

11.21.14

What Will Make the U.S.-China Climate Deal Work

Mark Hertsgaard
Nearly everyone agrees that the U.S.-China climate announcement is a big deal, but most observers have overlooked what truly makes it a game-changer: if the world’s two climate change superpowers limit their greenhouse gas emissions, it will have...

In Step to Lower Carbon Emissions, China Will Place a Limit on Coal Use in 2020

Edward Wong
New York Times
In theory, coal consumption might increase beyond 2020, but some researchers say economic trends show the rate of growth in coal use slowing in coming years and peaking about 2020.

In China, Even Creating a Pollution Tracking App Is a Risky Business

Steven Millward
Tech in Asia
It was mid-October 2011, and the air quality in Beijing was quite bad, as you may imagine. It came to my mind that if we could check the air quality on our phones and receive pollution notifications, that would be quite helpful and handy. After some...

Conversation

11.19.14

Was the U.S.-China Climate Deal Worth the Wait?

Deborah Seligsohn, Orville Schell & more
Last week, Ann Carlson and Alex Wang, environmental experts at UCLA Law School, called the November 12 U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change "monumental." "No two countries are more important to tackling the problem than the...

Environment

11.18.14

Four Reasons Why the U.S.-China Climate Statement Matters

from chinadialogue
The joint U.S.-China statement on climate change is both inspiring and historic. The two parties have sought common ground, set aside their differences, and put global interests first—as responsible great powers should.The agreement will have four...

Viewpoint

11.14.14

The Domestic Politics of the U.S.-China Climate Change Announcement

Ann Carlson & Alex Wang
The news from Beijing this week that the U.S. and China are committing to ambitious goals on climate change is, we think, monumental. No two countries are more important to tackling the problem than the largest carbon emitter over the past two...

Media

11.14.14

Why Is Beijing Downplaying the Supposedly Huge Climate Change Deal?

Alexa Olesen
The United States has been using some frothy language to describe its joint statement with China on forestalling climate change. In a breathless New York Times editorial, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry referred to it as "something of great...

Sinica Podcast

11.14.14

Behind the Curtain at APEC

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
With tensions between the West and Russia running high over Ukraine, China and Japan still wrangling over the Diaoyu islands, and America and China fighting over pretty much the same old petty stuff, it's easy to be cynical about APEC. But this...

Environment

11.11.14

China Reforms National Parks to Improve Environmental Protection

from chinadialogue
China’s central government is reforming the way major tourist attractions are run. It plans to create a unified national parks management system in a bid to halt environmental damage within its protected areas. The new, unified system will cut...

Unable to Clean Air Completely for Apec, China Resorts to Blocking Data

Simon Denyer and Xu Yangjingjing
Washington Post
China has made a gargantuan effort to clear Beijing’s smoggy air for an important regional summit this week, closing hundreds of factories and forcing cars off the road, but its efforts have only been partially successful.

Environment

11.07.14

China’s EIA Industry Rife with Fraud

from chinadialogue
A farce played out at an environmental impact assessment (EIA) firm in the southern city of Shenzhen when inspectors called round in early October, this year.The firm had applied to renew its license to carry out EIAs—reports that are supposed to...

Reports

11.06.14

Vanishing Point: Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants

Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
Tanzania’s elephants continue to be poached to supply a growing demand in an unregulated illegal ivory market, predominantly in China. Seizure data implicates Tanzania in more large flows of ivory than any other country. It is also consistently...

Japan Warns China Coral Poachers

Toko Sekiguchi
Wall Street Journal
Top Japanese officials on Tuesday warned coral poachers to stay out of the country’s territorial waters after arresting six Chinese nationals suspected of hunting illegally for precious red corals in recent weeks.

In War on Smog, Struggling China Steel Mills Adapt to Survive

David Stanway
Reuters
Dozens of steel mills in industrial areas straddling the capital are set to shut from November 1 to cut smog before leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. China had imposed...

China’s Coal Use Actually Falling Now (For the First Time this Century)

Lauri Myllyvirta
Greenpeace
The data suggests the world's largest economy is finally starting to radically slow down its emission growth, and it comes ahead of key talks next year on a new global climate and energy deal...

Environment

10.23.14

Tesla-Unicom Deal Could Spark China’s Electric Vehicle Market

from chinadialogue
Electric vehicle firm Tesla’s major new deal with China Unicom to build EV charging infrastructure unites what is seemingly the only EV success story, pursuing a business model targeting elite customers, with China’s second largest mobile phone...

Media

10.23.14

Pandas Were Monsters

Alexa Olesen
"Rich Chinese are literally eating this exotic mammal into extinction," read a recent Global Post expose of the devastating trade in the pangolin, a scaly anteater that Chinese consider a delicacy. According to the Post, the adorable...

Environment

10.23.14

Tibetan Plateau Faces Massive ‘Ecosystem Shift’

from chinadialogue
Large areas of grasslands, alpine meadows, wetlands, and permafrost will disappear on the Tibetan plateau by 2050, with serious implications for environmental security in China and South Asia, a research paper published by scientists at the Kunming...

"Like Running on Mars" - Runners share their Beijing Marathon Stories

Steve George
That’s
To run or not to run? That was the question faced by entrants in Sunday’s Beijing marathon, as they awoke to find hazardous levels of pollution engulfing the city. 

Environment

10.16.14

‘Paranoia’ and Public Opinion

Sam Geall from chinadialogue
When permits for Chinese researchers to grow genetically modified rice and corn expired this summer, there was concern. More so, given there was little indication that the Ministry of Agriculture would renew them.The certificates, issued in 2009,...

Environment

10.16.14

Chinese Environmentalists, in Their Own Words

Michael Zhao
Earlier this year, ChinaFile’s Environment Editor, Michael Zhao, teamed up with Phoenix Online to create a series of two-minute documentaries on the work, ideas, and aspirations of Chinese environmental advocates. The environmentalists, many of whom...

China’s Other Pollution Problem – Its Soil

Rachael Bale
Reveal
China’s air pollution is infamous. The haze from belching factories and clogged highways can make it impossible to see buildings across the street. It forces schools to close. Face masks are commonplace. But China has another pollution problem –...

Environment

10.09.14

Locals Attack Factory After Children Poisoned with Lead

from chinadialogue
Villagers from the township of Gangkou in Jiangxi province, southeast China, have smashed up a new lead recycling plant which was due to begin operating.Unconvinced by reassurances from the owners and local government that there would be no...

A Chinese Artist Confronts Environmental Disaster

Orville Schell
New Yorker
What were all these sick animals—lions, wolves, camels, monkeys, gazelles, pandas, and zebras—doing on this dilapidated Chinese fishing boat, sailing past the famous frieze of colonial banks, trading houses, and clubs that make up Shanghai’s Bund?

Environment

10.02.14

China ‘Not Ready to be a World Leader’ on Climate Change

from chinadialogue
The U.N. Climate Summit 2014 in New York last week passed, as expected, with public statements of intent but no sign of firm commitments to reducing climate emissions.If a deal is to be reached in Paris next year, at the latest “last hope” climate...

Photo Gallery

09.28.14

Traces

Ian Teh
One in five people in the world get their water from great Asian rivers linked to the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in northwestern China. Here, beneath a gently undulating landscape, spring the headwaters of the Yellow River, which sweep three thousands...

Environment

09.25.14

New York Climate Summit Fails to Bridge Rich-Poor Divide

from chinadialogue
India reiterated its need to develop, China listed the steps it was taking and the United States repeated that all countries should control greenhouse-gas emissions.Despite notable advances in many areas, the special climate summit convened by...

Viewpoint

09.25.14

How Bad Does the Air Pollution Have to Be Before You’d Wear a Face Mask?

Stephanie Ho
“Mommy, why don’t I wear a face mask?” asked my nine-year-old daughter Maggie nearly every day during the first few weeks of school. Two of her expat classmates had been in Beijing less than a year, but it seemed as if they wore theirs all the time...

UN Climate Summit: China Pledges Emissions Action

BBC
China has pledged for the first time to take firm action on climate change, telling a UN summit that its emissions, the world's highest, would soon peak...

Obama Presses Chinese on Global Warming

Mark Landler and Coral Davenport
New York Times
Declaring that the United States and China—the world’s two largest economies and largest polluters—bear a “special responsibility to lead,” Mr. Obama said, “That’s what big nations have to do.”

China Surpasses EU in Per-Capita Pollution for First Time

Stefan Nicola
Bloomberg
If pollution continues at the current rate, the limit for carbon will be reached in 30 years, the scientists concluded in a report issued on the eve of a United Nations summit designed to step up the fight against climate change.

Conversation

09.19.14

China and Climate Change: What’s Next?

Angel Hsu & Barbara A. Finamore
Climate Week at the United Nations General Assembly is upon us and we asked a group of experts to bring us up-to-date about the areas where progress on climate change looks most possible for China, now the world's largest emitter of greenhouse...

Environment

09.19.14

Here’s How This Giant Chinese Forest Disappeared

Michael Zhao
In early August, Greenpeace China’s forest campaigner Wu Hao wrote a piece in the environmental section of the newspaper Southern Weekly about China’s astonishing rate of deforestation. He posted dramatic before and after satellite images of forests...

Caixin Media

09.16.14

Grappling with Ammonia in China’s Haze

Chicken farmers and auto designers follow different career paths, but soon both may be changing how they do their jobs as part of a campaign to clean up China's polluted air.Emissions from poultry waste and auto engines alike can contain...

China, the Climate and the Fate of the Planet

Jeff Goodell
Rolling Stone
If the world's biggest polluter doesn't radically reduce the amount of coal it burns, nothing anyone does to stabilize the climate will matter...

Environment

09.10.14

The Dark Side of the Boom

Isabel Hilton from chinadialogue
Just over a year ago, in July 2013, a report published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, put the health impacts of air pollution in China into an unusually clear framework: residents of south China, the report said...

Cameroon’s Illegal Timber Finds a Market in China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Cameroon’s rain forests are rapidly vanishing due to widespread corruption, according to a new report from Greenpeace Africa. The environmental activist group alleges that much of the illegally-harvested timber from Cameroon ends up in China where...

Reports

09.07.14

Pollution and Health in China: Confronting the Human Crisis

IIsabel Hilton, He Guangwei, He Guangwei, He Guangwei, Jennifer Holdaway, Wang Wuyi, Ross Perlin, Anna Lora-Wainwright, Zhang Chun, Luna Lin, Meng Si, Corinne Purtill, Chu Han, Sam Geall, Isabel Hilton, Angel Hsu, Andrew Moffat
chinadialogue
Anyone who lives in north China understands that the air quality that they endure is potentially hazardous. There are other environmental hazards to health that have been less obvious or less widely understood, but that emerge in patterns of illness...

Environment

09.04.14

Alibaba Founder Shoots Himself in the Foot with UK Hunting Trip

from chinadialogue
Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce platform Alibaba and chairman of The Nature Conservancy’s China Program, has drawn hostile fire from environmentalists after a British newspaper recently reported he hunted stags in Scotland in 2012. What’s more, Ma...

Mongolia's ‘Rebalance’ Towards Russia and China

Gabriel Dominguez
Deutsche Welle
In a bid to boost its ailing economy, Mongolia is refocusing its foreign policy on its traditional partners Russia and China. But experts warn Ulan Bator runs the risk of becoming increasingly dependent.

Viewpoint

08.28.14

China’s Nicaraguan Canal

Carlos F. Chamorro
While Nicaragua was once a central concern—indeed, almost an obsession—of Washington, as Sandinistas and Contras seemed to be battling for the soul of the Western Hemisphere, in more recent times our small and quite impoverished country has slipped...

China Considering $16 Billion for Electric-Vehicle Chargers

Bloomberg
Increased state funding would be a tailwind for carmakers coping with consumer concerns over the price, reliability and convenience of electric vehicles.