Cleaning Up Coal

Richard K. Morse
Council on Foreign Relations
That explosive increase in coal use came not from the developed world, where demand is plateauing, but from the developing world, where the fuel remains the cheapest, most reliable source of electricity. This year, the market in globally traded coal...

Environment

07.18.12

China’s Overseas Food Footprint

from chinadialogue
For the last three decades, China’s factories have turned out goods for export markets, while Chinese citizens have paid the environmental price of industrialization in the pollution of their air and water and in the contamination of their land. But...

Chinese Draft Rule Could Prohibit Citizens and NGOs From Monitoring Air

Charles Zhu
Even as the Weibo account of the U.S. consulate in Shanghai was shut down, the fight for blue skies has continued to gain momentum. There’s the China Air Daily website, which posts pictures and air quality data in cities across the country. But lest...

Environment

07.18.12

Shifang: A Crisis of Local Rule

from chinadialogue
China has been engrossed in the mass protests in Shifang, Sichuan province, where on the morning of July 2, locals and police clashed during demonstrations against a planned molybdenum and copper refinery. The next day, the government announced a...

China's Unsafe Drinking Water

Gong Jing
Hurtling beneath the ground, there are sturdy new subways coursing through every major urban center of China like an electric current of modernity. The country's rapid urbanization in a matter of mere decades has produced engineering marvels...

“Winner Take All”—A China Story?

Elizabeth C. Economy
Council on Foreign Relations
It was with a mix of trepidation and anticipation that I read Dambisa Moyo’s newly-released book, “Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What it Means for the World”: trepidation because my colleague Michael Levi and I are currently...

Inner Mongolia: Mining the Grasslands

Unattributed
Economist
LOCAL legend has it that the beauty of the grasslands in Xilin Gol, a prefecture in eastern Inner Mongolia, so captivated the 13th-century warrior Genghis Khan that he planned to settle down there once his battles were over. He might be less...

Environment

07.11.12

Why Big Dams Don’t Work

from chinadialogue
The record of Africa’s large dams is one of widespread environmental destruction to the continent’s major river systems, upon which millions of people depend for their livelihoods; forcible resettlement and human rights abuses; corruption and cost...

Caixin Media

07.11.12

Economic Ties that Bind

Labor leader Wayne Swan has his finger on the pulse of the Australian economy as the nation’s deputy prime minister and treasurer, which means he’s well-equipped to explain factors defining the increasingly robust relationship between China and...

Raw Sewage Dumped in China’s Pearl River Delta, Daily Says

Nicholas Wadhams
Bloomberg
The report said that 30 percent of rivers in eastern Guangdong are polluted, threatening the health of people who live along their banks. Guangdong, with a population of 104 million people, has China’s largest economy and is one of the world’s...

Environment

07.10.12

Restoring Eco-balance

from chinadialogue
In the late 1970s, China was swept by a wave of economic growth, and with it a wholesale attack on nature. Grain was planted on grasslands and profits extracted from rivers. Land was reclaimed from lakes and seas and forests were felled for arable...

Caixin Media

07.06.12

Fighting the Filth

Has the division of spoils from China’s rapid economic growth become a one-sided affair? The answer is less abstract when one considers the state of the nation’s environment.Waterways are barricaded by garbage, mountains gouged with dusty pits, and...

Caixin Media

07.06.12

Powering Down Coal-Fired Economic Expansion

Slowing nationwide power demand and coal consumption, twin barometers for economic growth, suggest the Chinese economy may be sailing into the doldrums while at the same time changing its course.Electricity use in May rose a relatively mild 5.2...

Bolder Protests Against Pollution Win Project’s Defeat in China

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
China has long been known as a place where the world’s dirtiest mines and factories can operate with impunity. Those days may not be over, but a growing environmental movement is beginning to make the most polluting projects much harder to build and...

Environment

07.04.12

Dirty Truth about China’s Incinerators

from chinadialogue
Xie Yong could be called a pioneer. He is one of very few to date to sue a Chinese government agency over its unlawful refusal of requested data. His crusade for change has little to do with civic altruism, however. Xie’s struggle is personal in...

No More Shark Fin Soup at Chinese State Banquets

Bettina Wassener
New York Times
China said Tuesday that it would prohibit official banquets from serving shark fin soup, a pricey and popular delicacy blamed for a sharp decline in global shark populations.

Sichuan City Suspends Factory Construction Following Protests

Keith Bradsher
New York Times
A municipal government in southwestern China has suspended at least temporarily the construction of a metals factory after bloody street protests on Monday, in the latest sign of the growing strength of the country’s environmental movement.

Caixin Media

07.02.12

Deal Puts Saab in Green Technology Driver’s Seat

The dark clouds over bankrupt Swedish car maker Saab have finally cleared.Saab Automobile AB’s liquidator signed an agreement in mid-June with National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS) to sell the company’s main assets to the Sino-Japanese...

Caixin Media

06.29.12

Shale Gas Race

The shale gas revolution in the United States has led to a debate in China over shale gas development. But can the United States really achieve energy self-sufficiency? And if it can, what are the implications for China?Ever since the Nixon era,...

Environment

06.29.12

The Double Life of Dali Lake

from chinadialogue
Every spring, migratory birds start arriving at Dali Lake in Inner Mongolia just as the fish-breeding season gets under way. This has been the time—at least until recently—when herders living around the lake have heard the sounds of firecrackers...

Review of Judith Shapiro’s “China’s Environmental Challenges”

Erica
Consolations at the End of the World
China’s environmental story is full of contradictions. What does one make of a country where the government severely limits the freedom of NGOs, yet has some of the most thorough environmental laws and most sustainably-minded leadership in the world...

Reports

06.25.12

U.S.-China Public Perceptions Opinion Survey 2012

Committee of 100
The re-establishment of U.S.-China relations in 1971 marked a strategic step that ended China’s isolation and transformed the global balance of power. Since that historic milestone, the United States as an established superpower and China as an...

Wal-Mart in China Faces New Food-Safety Complaints

Laurie Burkitt
Wall Street Journal
Beijing's Food Safety Administration said Thursday that it accused Wal-Mart of violating food-safety standards in March by selling sesame oil exceeding standard amounts of benzopyrene and squid containing hazardous levels of cadmium. The agency...

Can China's Rust Belt Reinvent Itself?

Jonathan Kaiman
Foreign Policy
To understand this industrial Chinese city's past, begin with the smoldering crater on the south side of town, an open-pit coal mine as wide as Manhattan and deeper than the height of the Chrysler Building. Known as Haizhou, or "Sea State...

Environment

06.14.12

Rio and China’s Global Future

from chinadialogue
We have a common predicament, and solving it requires humanity to work together. But state actors are, to a large degree, controlled by the confrontational logic of international politics. The dualities and contradictions common in sustainable...

China could be hiding an entire Japan’s worth of carbon emissions

Brad Plumer
Washington Post
Let’s go ahead and state the obvious: It will be impossible to hash out any sort of global agreement on climate change if we can’t even agree on how much carbon-dioxide different countries are actually putting into the air.Yet the data on...

HK Honey

Virgile Simon Bertrand
Nowness
High above one of the world's busiest and most congested city streets, urban apiarist Michael Leung runs his crusade for conscious local food, documented in Virgile Simon Bertrand’s inspiring photographs. Leung founded HK Honey as a way of...

Environment

06.11.12

The Diplomacy of Air Pollution

from chinadialogue
On June 5, World Environment Day, China’s environment ministry published its annual “state of the environment” report as normal. But this year, the launch attracted unusual levels of attention thanks to a statement from vice minister Wu...

Viewpoint

06.11.12

Dirty Air and Succession Jitters Clouding Beijing’s Judgment

Stephen Oliver & Susan Shirk
Last week the Chinese government accused the U.S. Embassy and consulates of illegally interfering in China’s domestic affairs by publishing online hourly air-quality information collected from their own monitoring equipment. (While the critiques...

Environment

06.08.12

In Ecuador, Home Truths for China

from chinadialogue
“We need to make contact with the Chinese media as urgently as possible.” I was on my university campus in New York when I received this call for help from an Ecuadorean NGO on March 5.Some 4,000 kilometers south, in Quito, the Chinese embassy was...

Environment

06.07.12

What’s Coming Out of China’s Taps

from chinadialogue
China’s urbanites use a lot of water. Every day, more than 4,000 water-treatment plants supply 60 million tons of water to 400 million people living in Chinese cities. Despite the impressive figures, the water industry is grappling with widespread...

Fallows on Bad Air and Soft Power

James Fallows
Atlantic
This is another fascinating installment in the exercise of Chinese "soft power." For my Big Theory on the nature of Chinese soft power, see this essay and this book. For a few previous installments in the Soft-Power Watch, see this, this,...

Environment

06.05.12

Hot Air?

Michael Zhao
It has been a busy season for U.S. diplomatic activity in China. Given the tensions aroused by U.S. involvement in the Bo Xilai scandal and the flight of the blind activist Chen Guangcheng, perhaps it should come as no surprise that even relatively...

China Tells U.S. to Stop Reporting China's Bad Air

Alexa Olsen
Associated Press
China told foreign embassies Tuesday to stop publishing their own reports on air quality in the country, escalating its objections to a popular U.S. Embassy Twitter feed that tracks pollution in smoggy Beijing. Only the Chinese government is...

Global CO2 Emissions Hit Record in 2011 Led by China: IEA

Michel Rose
Reuters
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist told Reuters.

China’s Multifaceted Coal Problem

Monica Tan
Diplomat
“Sandstorms can actually be called ‘coal dust storms’,” says current Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Sun Qingwei, previously a government scientist based in the western province of Gansu.

Media

06.04.12

Food Paradise or Hell: A New Documentary Sparks Debate

Sun Yunfan & Qiaoyi Zhuang
A seven-part documentary on China’s food culture, “A Bite of China” (which translated literally means “China on the Tip of the Tongue”) premiered on the main channel of China Central Television (CCTV-1) on May 14, 2012 and became an instant...

Environment

06.02.12

A Fallacy of Steel and Glass

from chinadialogue
Among its many environmental challenges, China faces an enormous increase in energy consumption by buildings over the coming decades. Bricks and mortar already account for 25% of China’s total primary energy consumption, but are currently consuming...

Xie Yan and the Fight Against Bad Conservation Laws

Hudson Lockett
Danwei
When ecologist Xie Yan heard about the Natural Heritage Conservation Act, she knew she had to kill it. So she wrote a letter. The open letter, posted on February 5 to Xie’s blog, became the focus of a story the next day at one of China’s most...

Environment

05.30.12

We’re All Farmers Now

from chinadialogue
At a monthly “friends of farming” dinner held by Green Heartland, an NGO based in Chengdu, west China, Chen Xia quietly reads an ode to the land against light background music. It’s a simple thanksgiving ceremony the hosts conduct before leaving the...

Blinded by the (Solar) Light

Kelly Sims Gallagher and Kevin P...
Financial Times
The Obama Administration’s preliminary decision to impose a 31 per cent tariff on solar panels imported from China is short sighted. The move could cause a trade war, hurt the US economy, jeopardize US security interests, and put the world further...

Environment

05.24.12

Unplugging from China

from chinadialogue
Apparent preparations by US energy giant AES Corporation to withdraw from China have raised eyebrows lately. Earlier this year, it emerged that the firm—one of the world’s biggest independent power generators—had engaged an investment bank to sell...

Ruihua Popsicles Possibly Tainted, Production Halted

Yan Shuang
Global Times
Ruihua Old Popsicle, which sells around 50,000 units per day for 1 yuan each, mostly in tourist sites, contains bacteria 1,767 times higher than that stipulated in the national standards for cold beverages, according to the Beijing News.

Solar Industry Reaction to the Anti-Dumping Decision

Eric Wesoff
Greentech Media
While the margins are not as high as those seen in many previous U.S.-China antidumping cases (electrical blankets, steel grating), they are certainly much higher than Chinese manufacturers would have hoped for.

Environment

05.18.12

Europe Can Do Better

from chinadialogue
Since 2005, the European Union and China have sought to develop dialogue and cooperation in the area of climate-change policy. This has taken place primarily within the framework of the EU-China Partnership on Climate Change, agreed at the 2005 EU-...

Caixin Media

05.18.12

Near Three Gorges Dam, the Exodus Continues

Walls inside Zhang Haomin’s home in Zhenxi Township, in Chongqing, started cracking in 2008, around the time the reservoir behind the new Three Gorges Dam neared capacity.“Early on, the cracks were small,” said Zhang, whose home is about three...

Environment

05.14.12

Keeping an Eye on China’s Bankers

from chinadialogue
Last August, a major pollution story broke in China: 5,000 tonnes of toxic chromium tailings had been dumped near a Yunnan reservoir, contaminating water supplies and killing livestock. Worse revelations were to come. The company behind the incident...

Caixin Media

05.09.12

Along the Xiang, It’s Toxic from the Tap

Water flowing from the Xiang River into the faucets of Hunan Province homes has been dangerous for decades. The central government first classified the river’s water as toxic in the 1980s. But the river was being called the most polluted in China as...

Reports

05.03.12

Sustainable Low Carbon City Development in China

Axel Baeumler, Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, and Shomik Mehndiratta
World Bank
By embarking on a low-carbon growth path, China’s cities can help reach the country’s targets for reducing the energy and carbon intensity of its economy, and become more livable, efficient, competitive, and ultimately sustainable. Cities contribute...

Caixin Media

04.25.12

Watery Grave for Yangtze River Fish

(Beijing)—Fishermen along the banks of the mighty Yangtze River have long spoken of emptier nets and longer waits for a catch.On April 2, an unusual auction held in a downstream city in Jiangsu Province added weight to their bleak reports: A single...

Sinica Podcast

04.20.12

In Dialogue with chinadialogue

Jeremy Goldkorn, Isabel Hilton & more from Sinica Podcast
After a few upbeat weeks on political intrigue in Chongqing, Sinica is back this week with another depressing show about the various ways China is killing us all. This week our conversation turns to cadmium-laced rice, endangered species, and the...

Caixin Media

03.09.12

Ex-Officials Battle Plan to Build Nuclear Plants

Work on China’s nuclear power plants started picking up again about a year after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. But the meltdown in March 2011 was still fresh on the minds of four retired cadres in Anhui Province’s Wangjiang County.They filed a...

Apple, Cadmium Spill and Poyang Lake

Michael Zhao
As the world's most valuable public company, Apple has been trying hard to keep up with a world wide cult and demand for its iPhones, iPads and other products. Yet, the pressure on Apple to clean up its supply chain in China has also been...

Sinica Podcast

01.13.12

Year-End Roundup

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
It was the year of the housing market (up then down), Ai Weiwei’s imprisonment, Wukan, the Wenzhou train crash, air pollution, gutter oil, tainted milk, clenbuterol, China bulls and bears, government transparency, the soaring price of Maotai, Guo...

Environment

01.02.12

Chinese Demand Stokes U.S. Coal Battle

Craig Simons
TRINIDAD, Colorado—When the New Elk mine reopened amid windblown prairies last winter, it attracted little attention. But the mine—a long shaft boring through some of the world’s most valuable coal—strikes at the heart of a growing debate about the...

Environment

01.02.12

As China Grows Rich, Rainforests Fall

Craig Simons
An incredible forest lies on its side in this gritty industrial town in southeastern China. On the southern bank of the Yangtze River nine-foot-diameter kevazingo trees from Gabon rub against Cambodian rosewoods and Indonesian teaks. Nearby, rust-...

Environment

01.01.12

China’s Rising Consumer Class Sparks Climate Change Fears

Craig Simons
TUOJIA VILLAGE, China—When you think about China’s growing greenhouse gas emissions, you probably don’t think of people like Zhang Chao or his father Zhang Dejun. Zhang Chao, a thirty-five-year-old middle school teacher living in small city in...

Environment

11.14.11

China’s Rise Creates Clouds of U.S. Pollution

Craig Simons
At more than 9,000 feet along the crest of Oregon’s Cascade mountain range, the top of this snow-covered peak normally enjoys some of America’s cleanest air. So when sensitive scientific instruments picked up ozone—the chief component of smog—at...

Sinica Podcast

09.23.11

The Gutter Oil Podcast

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
“It was really distressing for me to talk to a WHO expert and have him tell me, ‘I have no idea where it’s safe to buy food here ...’” — Sharon LaFraniere.When Luoyang journalist Li Xiang broke China’s latest food scandal last week, exposing the...