Jul 13

Can smog be used as a smokescreen?

Written by DJ on Sunday, July 13th, 2008 at 12:35 am
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Claire Fox is rather perceptive in her blog entry “Beijing Olympics: China’s green critics should get a grip“:

None of these measures [i.e., reducing cars on the street by half, shutting down nearby factories, etc.] count for much amongst a sanctimonious Western commentariat because they are not interested in “Beijing’s smog” as a practical problem with practical solutions. Beneath the breathless headlines this week is our own anxiety about the growth of China and our willingness to put the boot into the toxic Chinese economy at any opportunity.

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41 Responses to “Can smog be used as a smokescreen?”

  1. Charlie Says:

    I certainly agree that some Western commentators tend to focus only on the negative aspects of Beijing’s Olympic preparations and that hidden agendas or fears may motivate this blinkered focus. As someone who lives in China and wholeheartedly supports China’s economic development, I do care about “Beijing’s smog” as a practical problem with practical solutions. China should be applauded for the massive efforts it has undertaken to improve air quality in Beijing; without those efforts conditions would be much worse. However, I think it is also true that those efforts have not yet achieved the consistent level of good air quality that the citizens of Beijing deserve. I realize that from a public relations standpoint some temporary fixes such as factory shut downs and odd/even driving restrictions have to be made, but these will end post-Olympics (the odd/even system could be made permanent if Beijing applied the same “vision” to the environnment that it has applied to municipal architecture). I am not inclined to give much praise for these stop gap measures which won’t solve the chronic issues. Beijing smog is a real problem that effects the lives and health of millions of people. Let’s not use it to bash China, but let’s not let up on the pressure to improve the situation (or doubt the bona fides of true Western friends of China who address the issue) simply because some in the West use it as a “smokescreen.”

  2. Robert Says:

    I too agree that Western media focuses on the negative stories in China. Though, I also believe the media focuses on negative stories in every country, but that’s just my perspective.

    If the smog is just hype, I suppose my Chinese teacher here in Taipei who is a Beijing native, has bought into the myth as well, saying she can’t even walk around in Beijing for a day without her clothes being covered in dingy particulate by the end of the day.

    I think one thing that’s missed in these sorts of critiques is how Chinese often forget how critical western media is of EVERYTHING. That doesn’t make the stories false. Granted, it often does give a skewed, negative picture of the world because they don’t preface a story about a plane crash by noting how many planes land every day or a terrorist attack by how many people in the world aren’t killed by terrorists.

    I’ve got no reason to believe that smog in Beijing is a western conspiracy.

    That said, in many ways, I think China’s taken the initiative much quicker than the Bush Administration has. If I’m not mistaken, the PRC’s invested far more in environmentally friendly energy than the Bush Administration has.

  3. Buxi Says:

    I completely agree, DJ. I know your point isn’t that smog in Beijing isn’t a problem (because it is a serious, serious problem)… it’s the resulting shaudenfraude. I personally am hopeful that the experts in Beijing know what they’re talking about, and that after traffic comes to a halt in late July, we’ll see clean air for the Olympics.


    I think you’re right, the most important issue for everyone concerned about China is: what are we going to do about this? Is just a show for the foreigners, and then the Chinese go back to dying of cancer?

    I’d suggest one (hopeful) possibility though: if the Chinese see 2 weeks of clean air in Beijing… perhaps that will remind us what we’re missing, and what we can have if we focus on more long-term fixes.

    But really… at the end of the day, the only long-term fix I can support is more (not less) economic growth. Money will buy us many things, including better filters at coal-plants.

  4. DJ Says:

    I agree with the comments so far. 🙂 This post is not to deny the existence of the smog problem nor to minimize or excuse it. There is a clear need for continued/increased effort in dealing with the source of a whole set of environment issues, and not just in Beijing but all over China.

    My reason for bringing attention to the quoted text from Claire Fox is the interesting angle she took in analyzing the motivations behind all the loud and focused criticisms we are now seeing all over the places. I think she is onto something in pointing out a collective psychological “anxiety about the growth of China” in the west. This perspective is well worth further discussions.

  5. Charlie Says:

    DJ & Buxi: Good points all, and I didn’t mean to sidetrack the discussion from what clearly was the main focus of the post. As to the “collective psychological ‘anxiety about the growth of China’ in the west” I don’t feel particularly well qualified to speak to that point, but I have to think there would be less “anxiety” among certain Westerners if they did not link the rise of China with the decline of the West. One does not inextricably lead to the other, and we need leaders who can articulate a vision for continued, sustainable global progress.

  6. DJ Says:


    The real problem, I think, is that access to resources of many types is kinda of a zero sum game. I have long doubted about the willingness of the west and particularly the U.S. to accommodate a peaceful rise of China simply because the scale of things involved. Seriously, what does it mean if a billion people is to lift their living standards to a level approaching the one in the U.S.? And what would the reaction be?

  7. Buxi Says:


    One does not inextricably lead to the other, and we need leaders who can articulate a vision for continued, sustainable global progress.

    My impression is that so far, there has been precious little of that in the US presidential campaign. I’m not too up to speed as to the debate, but it really seems like that “default” protectionism is so easy, so safe to turn to for both McCain and Obama.

  8. pug_ster Says:

    Speaking of the environment, China has done something smart when they decided to ban ‘free’ plastic bags. The improvements has been positive yet the US rarely has reported on. Restaurants in China are charging for tissues and now they are some are even charging for disposible chopsticks too.

  9. Charlie Says:

    DJ: Another good, if depressing, point. If a billion people attempt to lift their living standards to a level approaching the one in the US, it means global environmental Armageddon, which I assume is in no one’s best interest. The West needs to consume less (which I don’t equate with “decline”), the Chinese need to use resources more efficiently, and we all have to pray that technological advances will help stop the head long rush to mutually assured destruction. How we handle the competition for “zero sum” resources in the short-term will require cool heads, but if these resources are so scarce as to potentially spark conflicts in the near future, than we all should be planning for a post-scarce resource world. In any event, this point certainly deserves its own post.

    Buxi: I completely agree–more depression. Very little attention to these important issues in the current US campaign.

  10. FOARP Says:

    For myself, I simply find the spectacle of a government turning off industry for a month in a city simply to clear the air for a sporting event somewhat bizarre – there is no ‘double standard’, ‘hypocracy’, ‘hidden agenda’ or whatever in this. Simply put, it is representative of the dictatorial control that the Chinese government still exercises.

  11. Hemulen Says:

    As long as the environmental situation in Beijing remains substandard, it is just idle speculation to try to figure outwhat motivates some journalists to give “China” negative coverage. I flew from SW China to Beijing last year and except for some mountain regions, the whole country was wrapped in a thin smoggy film. Shortly afterwards, I made a trip to Japan, and you could spot small vehicles from the airplane as you flew over Tokyo.

    As long as the whole of China is covered by smoke, I don’t think turning off all cars in Beijing and some industries outside Beijing is going to make a huge difference. Really.

  12. Charles Liu Says:

    Just to be fair, issue of pollution was also raised during Athens:


    And few honest reporters did remember there was pollution during Atlanta, and in 1984 1500m world record holder Steve Ovett choked on LA’s smog and finished 4th.

  13. Charles Liu Says:

    test, why can’t I comment in minipost?

  14. Charles Liu Says:

    (okay no cnn link to back it up.)

    To be fair, the issue of pollution was also raised during Athens.

    Few honest reporters also remembered pollution during Atlanta, and in 1984 1500m world record holder Steve Ovett choked on LA’s smog and finished 4th.

  15. admin Says:

    @ Charles Liu

    Sorry about it. Your comment was held in the spam queue and had to be de-spammed.

    As a general question for spam filter, do readers prefer a back-end one, such as we have now, or do you want something different?

  16. Daniel Says:

    Other than the industrial effects of the air, is the desert sands a factor in the quality of air?
    I talked to a girl from Hangzhou a while back and she said that Beijing was already known for dirty air for some time. That’s what I heard. I only read a little bit but not enough to confirm.

  17. Daniel Says:

    Frankly speaking, I’m not quite sure on what solutions other than technological innovations and lifestyle changes (or philosophies) will the environment in general be sustainable. Some people have extreme views on what to do, but in for practical purposes, one just has to deal with the fact that humans everywhere want to have the same opportunities to grow, learn, enrich or make it comfortable or whatever personal life missions they have to pursue. I don’t think the majority of people anywhere are going to want to live like hippies.

    A lot of modern industries, leisures and comforts are a great blessing but it still has a price. I’m not sure how could some of the green critics in the West (the US in particular since many want to compare) point at China with one finger without having 4 other fingers pointing at one’s self. Even with the strictest industrial regulations, it’s still going to require resources and produce waste. The urban lifetyle and practically any human activity is like that. Us blogging and using the computer is another activity that requires resources and produce waste. Where do people think the power comes from and what it takes to build a computer or what happens when one discards it? It would be nice to recycle everything but…

  18. Netizen Says:

    Western media is just a reflection of Western society. But one problem with Western foreign correspondenc is lack of accountability. For example, it’s wrong or biased in its domestic reporting, there will be many groups or individuals taking various actions, protesting, filing complaits to regulaters, and have politicians involved. So domestic reporting is better balanced. But for foreign news, the viewers have no direct stakes and thus get brain washed by a state ideology which impacts journalists as well as other citizens.

    For example, only when Chinese netizens condemned Western media and singled them out during Olympics Torch Relay, they reflected their actions somewhat. Their reputation was hugely damaged in China but their altitudes won’t change fundamentally.

  19. JL Says:

    Claire Fox is right to try to inject some balance into what is sometimes a fairly hysterical critique. But wrong to assume that those who discuss China’s environmental problems always ignore the benefits of economic development, or simply don’t want China to develop economically.
    I (and other people I know) argue that cleaning up China’s environment would be good for its economy development overall -by bringing down longterm health costs, by ensuring that water and other resources are available for future industry and agriculture. The “environment vs the economy” perspective is misleading, therefore we shouldn’t assume that Westerners or Chinese discussion of Chinese environmental problems is motivated by ignorance of the importance of economic development.

  20. KL Says:

    The weather has been so wonderful here in Beijing for the last days…
    Yeasterday there was even a rainbow in the sky…
    And I really really hope we can have such wonderful days in Beijing after the Olympics…
    It’s simply beautiful

  21. JXie Says:

    By far the most signification factor is coal. China simply burns too much coal as an energy source. Other than large electricity power plants, most of coal burning hasn’t deployed any of the latest “clean coal” technologies. Many of the boilers for residential heating and small factories in some 2nd-tier cities and towns are as dirty as they can get.

    Coal serves some 60% of China’s energy need, compared to low 30% for the US and low 10% for Japan. Once upon a time, Japan burned quite a bit more coal, especially its domestic high-sulfur coal, which Japan has stopped using since early 2000s. Without hard facts, I would venture to guess Tokyo’s air was more smoggy when it hosted the 1964 Olympics.

    A comparason I like to make is Sao Paulo and Shanghai. Rivers in both metropolises are quite a bit dirtier than the Hudson River, which is already considered polluted in the US. On the other hand, Sao Paulo’s sky is as blue as anywhere else — Granted, climate, high forestation, and low population density decidedly favor Brazil over China, but Brazil simply uses very little coal as an energy source.

  22. Daniel Says:

    How are the other energy sources doing in China?
    Anyone has any facts regarding the usage of hydroelectric power stations, wind power, geothermal, nuclear and others?

  23. DJ Says:


    China Comment had an excellent post on nuclear power in China at http://chinacomment.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/chinas-nuclear-power/

  24. DJ Says:

    Oh, and CLC just pointed out to me: the latest China Comment post happens to be about the Beijing smog problem as well. http://chinacomment.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/beijing-smog/

  25. Charles Liu Says:

    Oh don’t do nuclear energy, the Greenpeace will repel and hang a giant flag on the Great Wall.


  26. MutantJedi Says:

    The Beijing smog from China Comment mentioned the Beijing air in the winter…. I was in Beijing this last February and the air outside seemed fine. I have a quite a few photos with clear blue skies. No complaints outside. Made me wonder what the fuss was about. Perhaps I got lucky.

    Inside was a different story 🙂 So much cigarette smoke!

  27. chinacomment Says:

    Perhaps the smog was less stultifying in February, but I was in Beijing in December and January. And the Beijinger can back up my comments with anecdotal references and links to the State EPA:

    “According to the State Environmental Protection Administration, the brown haze that descended on our fair city hit a whopping 421 on the Air Pollution Index today. To put that in perspective, on a good day it hovers between 50-150. On a bad day, we’re looking at 200 or so.”

    Maybe I’ll add the link to my post.

    Thanks for reading the blog MutantJedi.

    I noticed your post here, DJ, on an “incoming links” list. Glad you’re also enjoying it, and if there are any subjects you’d like to see covered, or if you’d like to discuss some facts, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line on one of my posts. 🙂

    Best, Francis.

  28. yo Says:

    I had the same experience in Beijing, the air in fact was cool, crisp, and clean! The downside was that it was too dry, the humidity was so low. The smog probably gets worse in the summer.
    I agree in principle with Clair Fox. The pollution hysteria in relation to the Olympics and the efforts to dig up dirt is misguided, but it makes for a sexy story. However, she should of qualified her statements more (ie make less generalizations)

  29. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I think Clair Fox makes a good point, to a certain degree. Air pollution is an issue. Keeping 1/2 the cars off the road and shutting factories is an interesting solution, but is only a temporary stop-gap measure and does nothing to address the underlying problem. So while exaggerating the problem is sensationalist, minimalizing it also serves no one (least of all Beijing’ers).

    I think if the top marathoner in the world skips the Olympics for perceived health concerns (whether fully justified is debatable), that is newsworthy.

    Again, as to why the media harps on the negatives of a story about China (the smog) and neglects the positives (venues built on-time and under budget), I’ve said this before, but I think they’re merely serving their consumers. As to why western consumers may be perceived to desire negative stories about china as opposed to positive ones, I think it’s apprehension about the unknown, and apprehension about “communism”. I don’t think the average westerner is patently racist; I don’t think they wish ill upon the average Chinese; and I don’t think they spend much time fearing the economic rise of China (I would hope most realize that this is something that is just going to continue).

    However, I think the question of economic growth vs environmental responsibility is an important and ongoing one. Buxi, among others, has stated before that some issues discussed here may not come to roost in our lifetime, but might in our children’s. I think this is one of them. So for China, is it reasonable to demand/expect maximal economic growth, environment be damned? Or can there be a compromise position, of “reasonable” economic growth that is environmentally sustainable (if there is such a thing).

    What troubles me is that the G8 can’t agree on emissions targets without some developing nations buying in, while the so-called G5 developing nations won’t do anything until G8 takes the lead. Sounds like a recipe for the status quo, and i don’t think that will work for our children, or our children’s children.

    Sadly, I live in a country whose government of the day has basically said screw Kyoto, and wants “intensity-targets” (dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, unless your goal is to increase emissions), so I’m in no position to judge.

  30. DJ Says:


    Thanks. And we would love to have more of your knowledge and views shared here.

  31. Buxi Says:


    At the end of the day, if there’s one thing that democratic countries have taught all of us… its that “the people” prefer economics to environmental issues. Time and time again, when really forced to choose, economics has been the decisive issue… voters prefer governments that preserve their jobs, not the governments that promise to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

    I don’t mean that as a criticism of the democracies, I think that’s an accurate reflection of how the majority of human beings in just about any society functions. Until we get to the point where we’re staring economic disaster in the face (and yes, I understand it might be “too late” at that point)… I really don’t know if significant change will be made.

  32. vadaga Says:

    viz. comment 31:

    Buxi, I must ask that you give some backup to your statement and flesh it out a bit, environmental issues and their interaction with society are a bit more complicated than just saying, for example, ‘money trumps clean air.’

    As far as I know, the US, western european democracies, and Japan have much better environmental protection than China, and the central government has often spoken on the need for better enforcement of environmental legislation, green development, and conservation in recent years.

  33. Hemulen Says:


    That’s an excessively cynical take on democracy. You sort of throw the baby with the bath water and completely dismiss the progress that actually has taken place in democratic countries. Compare the air in Tokyo with 30 years ago or take a look at how environmental legislation has developed in California the last decade or so. If anything, lack of more urgent action is more due to too little democracy, which has allowed big business to slow down strides forward…

    I also think we should remember that a lot of pollution of China comes from developed countries, that have dumped it there because the unaccountable Chinese government allows them to. If Chinese citizens had any say in the matter, they would be able to hold both foreign and domestic companies to account for destroying the Chinese environment.

  34. yo Says:

    “voters prefer governments that preserve their jobs, not the governments that promise to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.”

    I would agree with that sentiment. However, the smart environmentalist will tie in environmental issues with the economy. Solar cells need to be built by factory workers, mechanics need to be trained to maintain the new technologies, news industries will be created; there is an economic angle here.

    Therefore, while some environmentalist actions prevent growth, others can promote it.

  35. Buxi Says:


    As far as I know, the US, western european democracies, and Japan have much better environmental protection than China, and the central government has often spoken on the need for better enforcement of environmental legislation, green development, and conservation in recent years.

    Giving speeches on environmental legislation and conservation is free. There’s no downside from speaking about preserving blue skies and green waterways. All human beings are in favor of that.

    But when ultimately forced to choose between environmental legislation and economic growth, it’s rare indeed to see government policy that sacrifices the latter for the former. The recent oil crisis is a perfect example of this.

    How long has the technology been available for a hydrogen-based economy, in which the consumption of hydrocarbons is replaced by fuel-cells? Decades. What would be the environmental impact of eliminating gasoline-powered cars from the United States? Tremendous. What keeps it from happening? The cost of rolling out the necessary infrastructure, the opportunity cost from discarding the existing hydrocarbon infrastructure.

    What keeps solar power from being deployed? Nothing, except cost.

    I didn’t mean to throw out bathwater or baby. I don’t think I gave a cynical take on democracy… at best, you can accuse me of having a cynical take on humanity.

    Compare the air in Tokyo with 30 years ago or take a look at how environmental legislation has developed in California the last decade or so.

    Tokyo has been able to outsource its dirtiest industries, and is now wealthy enough to pay for more efficient industries.

    As far as California, living here for much of the year, I have a different view of the environmental legislations you’re speaking of. The ban on plastic bags that China just implemented has an equivalent in exactly one city: San Francisco. Otherwise, there is minimal interest amongst the voting public in spending on infrastructure for public transportation. Emission standards are being gradually tightened, but all of this is predicated on automakers being able to keep costs to the consumer about the same.

    I didn’t mean to suggest that people don’t want a clean environment, or even that they wouldn’t pay for a clean environment… but let’s say they wouldn’t pay a *lot* (say, take a cut in salary above 10%) for it.

  36. Buxi Says:


    Solar cells need to be built by factory workers, mechanics need to be trained to maintain the new technologies, news industries will be created; there is an economic angle here.

    Yes, but I think voters are asking the smart follow-up question: who’s paying for this?

    If these projects were financially viable with an acceptable rate of return, private financing would be doing it without government support. The difficult problem is in projects that aren’t financially viable, at least not with the kind of time horizon that private investors work with.

    There are environmentalists and activists who understand this, of course. That’s why you have things like “Fair Trade” branding for produce and other products. That’s another form of democracy you could call it, democracy of the marketplace. But the fact that “Fair Trade” coffee is a marginal product compared to generic cheap coffee beans, the fact that expensive electric cars are far less popular than inexpensive gas vehicles… that again just confirms why I’m “cynical” about humanity. Self-interest, first and foremost.

  37. MutantJedi Says:

    Money does trump (insert cause de jour)

    The West didn’t wake up one morning, stretch, yawn, and decide that today was the day to clean up its backyard. Instead, it became expensive to continue dumping raw sewage into its rivers, spewing lead from its car tailpipes, and so on. There is a real cost attached to brain damaged children (lead from cars). Real pollution has real costs to society.

    However, capitalism, a free market economy or even government, by themselves, can’t account for this cost. Where in the ledger would you put it? Unspecified environmental costs? What is needed is a public that cares and a trusted media free to report it.

    So there’s a cycle in the West. Industry does X. X creates some public harm Y. Vocal minority of public and media reports on Y. If there’s traction, the government might say something. The industry leaders will look at each other waiting for the other guys to blink as cleaning up will make them uncompetitive. At this stage, vague promises are made by industry and government to see if the problem will just go away. Maybe some players in the industry will look at modifications to production but nobody is going to act in a way that makes them uncompetitive. Industry and government will study Y. If Y doesn’t get better, and likely it won’t, there will be more outrage and reporting. Ultimately, the government will have to pass legislation to level the playing field for the industry to fix Y. Legislation that forces all the players to make changes ensures that the competitive playing field remains level. It also puts the cost of not making changes in the ledger, hence accounted for. An enlightened industry player can reduce its long term costs by preempting as much as possible potential environmental problems. It can sell itself to the financial market as a “green” play, thus more competitive at raising capital.

    No action on the environment will happen unless there is a direct cost of inaction. Ultimately, money trumps all. If still uncertain, consider the tobacco industry.

    A vital part of the cycle is awareness. In the West, this comes largely from a trusted media that is free to report on the environment and industry practices. How about in China? Will this role be carried out by the traditional media or will the online community fill the gap? The problem with both is trust. The online community suffers from credibility as it is prone to rumors. Accountability is an important part of trust.

    What’s happening with Beijing’s air is like tidying the house when a guest comes. Sweep here, gather there, make the place more presentable. When the guest is gone so goes the broom. In fact, I would be concerned that shutting down certain industries will have a reactionary effect. Who is going to cover the cost of the shut down? “We bore the cost of all this and still the West complains – what was the point?” is the sort of reaction I expect to hear.

    And frankly I would agree with the reaction “what was the point?” What does it matter if an asthmatic marathon runner chokes up? Heartless of me? Sure. But what is the point is that days with a 421 on the Air Pollution Index costs society in lost productivity and chronic illnesses in the general population. If the clean up is being done to please the West, the exercise is almost pointless. When the cost of a sick population becomes significant compared to the benefit of industrial development, then something concrete will be done.

    This is also an area where a sort of “micro-democracy” can have a positive role. One of the reasons Western politicians move on environmental issues is that they could lose their jobs by being voted out. Generally, a tenured politician has motive to not make changes whereas an elected politician at least needs to look like he’s responsive to his electorate. I don’t know how elected local officials work in China. Do they act as representatives of the local people to higher officials? Are there any case studies of how elected local officials deal with local pollution problems as compared to non-elected officials?

    I’ve rambled long enough. Gotta get some work done 🙂

  38. yo Says:

    “I think voters are asking the smart follow-up question: who’s paying for this? ”

    The same way Sinopec and PetroChina gets it’s money, through the government in the form of tax credits. (FYI, both of these companies survive on tax credits, they are not viable without the government) There is nothing wrong with government incentives, many industries receive them and it is important for start up industries. Once things are standardized, like ethanol, it becomes viable (see Brazil). The upfront cost of converting an economy should not overshadow the long term advantages of innovation.

    Further more, my solution is to first upgrade the power centers. Build more wind plants, solar(China is the biggest investor in this field which is great), solar thermal, natural gas plants, even nuclear. You don’ t need to worry too much about infrastructure here, all you are changing is the source of the power, transmission stays the same. That is a great first step, and it helps to alleviate itself from oil(which I don’t think the government can sustain paying out subsides, money they can use elsewhere) and coal(which has huge costs associated with environmental damages, and public health).

  39. vadaga Says:

    @Buxi re: comment 35. I am not sure if you are familiar with the economics concept of ‘externalities’
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externalities…), if this link is nothing new for you, please excuse my posting it.

    My take on the economy in China is that a lot of ‘negative externality costs’, things like air pollution, water pollution, dumping, corruption, and tax evasion by those who can afford it are getting passed on to society. They are costs to society, but don’t show up on the ‘normal’ economics balance sheet. However, they show up in things like increased cancer cases, or higher national healthcare bills.

    I remember that in recent years the PRC government released a report saying that there are several provinces which, when externality costs were factored in, did not have any net economic growth whatsoever. Shanxi was the main example in that report.

    Of course the central government has made many speeches on this subject, and talked about the ‘scientific development outlook’ and often talked about sustainable development. They are definitely pursuing an environmental agenda, one indicator of the importance of which is the upgrading of SEPA into the Ministry of Environmental Protection at the National People’s Congress this past March.

    Of course, the developed world is complicit in the situation by outsourcing its production to places such as China and other developing world nations. However, in the case of China a combination of corruption and lack of transparent governance, specifically at the local level, has allowed things to get fairly out of hand. Luckily now things seem to be getting better.

  40. Buxi Says:


    I think you make a very good point in your last post. Governments in the West have done very well in capturing “negative externalities”, and making sure the responsible parties take that into consideration.

    It’s still amazing to me when I read about companies paying clean-up costs for land that was polluted decades, maybe even a century ago (and often by a different company entirely, perhaps later acquired)… that sort of due process and transparency doesn’t exist in China today, and absolutely needs to.

  41. Buxi Says:

    By the way, if James Fallows et al is to be believed, Beijing will have beautiful blue skies for the Olympics:


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