China Pressured World Bank to Cut Deadly Pollution Figures: Report
by AFP staffwriters
BEIJING - Research showing that 750,000 people die prematurely in China each
year from pollution was cut from a World Bank report following pressure from
Beijing, the Financial Times said Tuesday.
Beijing successfully lobbied for the removal of a third of the report, entitled
the “Cost of Pollution in China,” arguing the contents could lead to social
unrest, the London-based newspaper said.
China’s State Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and health ministry asked
the World Bank to remove the figures from a draft of the report finished last
year that stated about 750,000 people die prematurely each year from
China also successfully pushed for the removal of a detailed map showing which
parts of the country suffered the most deaths, the newspaper said.
“The World Bank was told that it could not publish this information. It was too
sensitive and could cause social unrest,” the Financial Times quoted one
adviser to the study as saying.
The draft was released at a conference on sustainable development in Beijing in
March, and remains available on the Internet, without the sensitive data.
The World Bank, which put together the report in cooperation with Chinese
government ministries over several years, acknowledged on Tuesday that some
data had been withdrawn from the draft but did not go into details.
The World Bank said in a statement sent to AFP that the published version “did
not include some of the issues that are still under discussion.”
The statement said the final report was “still under review,” while there was
no comment on the allegations that Chinese pressure had led to the sensitive
data being removed.
The published report on the Internet said “conservative” estimates put the cost
of premature death caused by air pollution in China at 157.3 billion yuan (20.7
billion dollars) in 2003, but gave no estimates on the numbers affected.
Its foreword said that “certain physical impact estimations” had been left out
of the draft of the report “due to… some uncertainties about calculation
methods and its application.”
Guo Xiaomin, a retired SEPA official who coordinated the Chinese research team,
told the Financial Times the cuts were made partly because of concerns that the
methodology was unreliable.
But he added the information on premature deaths “could cause
misunderstanding,” the newspaper said. Guo also expressed concerns over the
size of the 148-page report.
“We did not announce these figures. We did not want to make this report too
thick,” he told the Financial Times.
Officials from China’s environment agency or health ministry were not available
for comment on Tuesday, while the foreign ministry refused to comment.
China’s communist rulers have a history of suppressing information that they
perceive as sensitive. However, in recent years they have pledged to be more
In 2003, the deadly SARS virus originated in China and the government was
widely condemned for initially covering up the disease, enabling the virus to
spread around the world more easily.
Foreign media, informed by a retired army whistle-blower doctor Jiang Yanyong,
eventually exposed the cover-up, but the disease went on to kill over 800
people worldwide, including 349 in China.
Despite the pledges of transparency, the government-controlled press continues
today to ignore or play down sensitive issues such as protests and
Russian Far East Under Threat of Pollution After China Factory Blast
Created: 23.11.2005 11:17 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:17
Russian officials said they have started monitoring water content in the Amur
river on the border
between the Russian far east and China, fearing contamination after toxic
substances were discovered
in a Chinese tributary of the Amur.
Polluted river water heads toward Chinese
By Chris Buckley
HARBIN, China (Reuters) - A toxic slick of polluted river water reached the
outskirts of one of China's biggest cities on Thursday after an explosion at a
petrochemical plant upstream nearly two weeks ago.
China said the blast had caused major pollution, spilling benzene compounds
into the Songhua River from which Harbin, capital of the northeastern province
of Heilongjiang and home to nine million people, draws its drinking water.
Local officials warned residents on Thursday to be on the lookout for symptoms
of benzene poisoning, which in heavy doses can cause anemia and other blood
disorders, as well as kidney and liver damage.
Spill Taints Beijing
The factory accident that poisoned a Chinese river has laid bare problems such
as official secrecy and destruction of the environment.
By Mark Magnier, Times Staff Writer
The release of millions of gallons of toxic liquid into a major city's water
supply, China's biggest environmental accident in years, is shaping up as a
wake-up call for a society that has made huge sacrifices for economic
On Thursday, the government defended its handling of the mid-November factory
explosion that dumped 100 tons of benzene and other chemicals into northeastern
China's Songhua River.
The government alerted the public only after huge numbers of dead fish began to
surface, 10 days after the Nov. 13 explosion.
At one point, the river's nitrobenzene content was 103.6 times higher than
normal. Virtually all Chinese rivers are polluted, to varying degrees.
Environmentalists warn that many of the problems caused by the accident could
take years to show up, including birth defects and other long-term damage to
people, plants and animals.
Riots in a Village in
China as Pollution Protest Heats Up
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
Published: July 19, 2005
Pollution Protests in China
Recent riots in Xinchang are a part of a rising tide of discontent in China,
where the number of mass protests is skyrocketing.
The riots in Xinchang are a part of a rising tide of discontent in China, with
the number of mass protests like these skyrocketing to 74,000 incidents last
year from about 10,000 a decade earlier,
according to government figures. The details have varied from incident to
incident, but the recent protests all share a common foundation of accumulated
anger over the failure of China's political system
to respond to legitimate grievances and defiance of the local authorities, who
are often seen as corrupt.