China Watch

A joint initiative of the Worldwatch Institute and Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute (GEI), China Watch reports on energy, agriculture, population, water, health, and the environment in China—with an emphasis on big-picture analysis relevant to policy makers, the business community, and non-governmental organizations.
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A joint initiative of the Worldwatch Institute and Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute (GEI), China Watch reports on energy, agriculture, population, water, health, and the environment in China—with an emphasis on big-picture analysis relevant to policy makers, the business community, and non-governmental organizations. View a profile of the Global Environmental Institute.

View an RSS feed of the China Watch news service, or sign up for our list-serve to receive updates from China Watch and other Worldwatch Institute content.

State of the World 2006 State of the World 2006
Special Focus: China and India

"Top-ranked annual book on sustainable development."
—GlobeScan survey of sustainability experts

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News Updates

Multinational Corporations Violating China's Environmental Laws and Regulations

Over the last three years, the Chinese government has punished 33 multinational corporations for violating the nation’s environmental laws and regulations, according to Ma Jun, director of the nongovernmental Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs.

Chinese Government to Start "Buying Green"

China’s Ministry of Finance and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) have announced that starting in 2007, the nation’s central and provincial governments will prioritize their purchasing of environmentally friendly products and services.

China's "Green" Investment to Outpace GDP Growth

China’s investment in environmental protection is projected to grow faster than the county’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to Jun Ma, Greater China chief economist with Deutsche Bank. By 2010, “green” investments will account for 1.6 percent of Chinese GDP, or 1.9 trillion yuan (US$242 billion), growing at an average rate of 16 percent a year until then.

China's Growth Rate Revised Upward, Heightening Concerns About Overinvestment, Trade Surplus, and Environmental Destruction

In its Asian Development Outlook 2006 Update, launched on September 6, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) revised upward its economic growth forecast for China for 2006, from 9.5 percent to 10.4 percent. The Bank also projected full-year growth for 2007 at 9.5 percent.

New Report Urges Global Companies to Turn Attention to China's Surging Consumer Class

Amidst consistently high economic growth, a visible consumer culture is emerging in urban China.

Analysis

Deserts Swallowing Up China's Grasslands and Cities

In recognition of the grave perils of increasing desertification, the United Nations has declared 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and the theme of World Environment Day on June 5, 2006 is, "Don't Desert Drylands!".

News Updates

Analysis

Deserts Swallowing Up China's Grasslands and Cities

In recognition of the grave perils of increasing desertification, the United Nations has declared 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and the theme of World Environment Day on June 5, 2006 is, "Don't Desert Drylands!".

News Updates

China Issues New Regulation on Water Management, Sets Fees for Usage

The Chinese government recently passed a new regulation on water management, updating its system of use permits and stipulating charges for water consumption in agriculture.

ADB Financing Water Improvements in Wake of Songhua Disaster

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is financing a US $2 billion environmental improvement project in the Songhua River area of northeastern China, according to an ADB official in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province.

Expert: Half of Chinese Cities Have Polluted Groundwater

The rapid development of urbanization and regional economies has increased demands on local water resources, while simultaneously causing deterioration in the quality of urban groundwater in many cities.

Harbin Resumes Water Supply

The city of Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, resumed water supply to its 3.8 million residents on November 27, five hours ahead of schedule. The city cut off its water supply for four days after a chemical explosion spilled some 100 tons of pollutants containing benzene and nitrobenzene into its main water source, the Songhua River.

SEPA: China's Marine Environment Faces Irreversible Damage

The results of a 2005 marine environmental protection inspection released by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) on November 28th showed that in spite of improvement of marine conditions in some coastal areas, the overall quality of China’s marine environment remains dire.

Nearly 300 Chinese Cities Lack Sewage Treatment

As of late June, 297 cities in China had not yet built adequate sewage treatment plants, an official with the Ministry of Construction reported on October 10th. Of these nearly 300 cities, 63 are larger urban areas, including 8 with populations of more than 500,000.

Analysis

Yunnan Farmer Learns "Development" Lessons from Failed Fishery

BEIJING—In Chinese development theory, the saying goes that if you build a road, the wealth will follow. That is precisely what government officials have promised unemployed fish farmer Yi Zhuzhi once the new super highway connecting his remote village to larger cities in Yunnan province and neighboring Burma is completed. But Yi is skeptical that this will solve any "real dilemmas" he and other villagers face.

China's Rivers: Frontlines for Chemical Wastes

Three months after a chemical plant explosion contaminated northeastern China's Songhua River, a second large spill occurred on the upper reaches of the Yuexi River in southeastern Sichuan province, r

China's Rivers: Frontlines for Chemical Wastes

Three months after a chemical plant explosion contaminated northeastern China's Songhua River, a second large spill occurred on the upper reaches of the Yuexi River in southeastern Sichuan province, r

Scientists Explore Drought-Tolerant Plants to Offset Water Shortages

Chinese scientists believe that breeding new drought-tolerant crop varieties is key to easing the country's chronic water scarcity, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Human Activities Contribute to Drying Up of Major River Headwaters

As temperatures and human pressures have increased in China’s mountainous west over the past decade, the headwaters of two major river arteries, the Yellow and the Yangtze, are drying up at an alarming rate. The Chinese government has poured in money and other resources in an attempt to reverse or mitigate this trend, but observers remain pessimistic about finding a long-term cure.

China Embraces Meat Safety Legislation

In late August, legislators in Beijing met to discuss China’s first-ever comprehensive law on animal husbandry, pushing meat safety to the top of the national agenda at a time when avian flu and other livestock-related diseases are ravaging parts of Asia. The bill, initially proposed in 2001, underwent legislative review at the 17th meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), convened August 23-28.

News Updates

China's Remaining Intact Forests Face Grim Threat

Only 0.1 percent of China's intact forest landscapes—which cover an area of 55,448 square kilometers, or 2 percent of the nation's total forest resources—are under strict protection.

Analysis

Pigs: A Boon to Yunnan's Biological Diversity?

As environmentalists lament the rapid loss of forest landscapes in southwestern China's Yunnan Province, they may now have an unlikely ally in their efforts to preserve this biologically diverse region: pig geneticists.

Tibetan Antelope, a Protected Species, Becoming Fashion Victim

Due to the robust demand for its wool in the United States and Europe, Tibetan antelope, an endangered species at the top of both China's and international protection lists, has been decimated by poaching—the population shrank sharply from an estimated 1 million in 1900 to around

Think Twice Before Opening the Door to Exotic Plants

As disposable incomes rise in China, the desire to alter the landscape is intensifying. City authorities, tired of the same old surrounding flora, are eager to revitalize streets and parks with new and exotic greenery. Meanwhile, desertification researchers, faced with worsening sandstorms from China’s barren deserts, are keen to find more permanent methods for holding back the drifting sand.

Important Wetland May Soon Disappear, Take Endangered Species With It

Unless rainfall increases by at least 80 percent over last year, the remaining surface water in China’s 100,000 hectare Xianghai State Nature Reserve could dry up completely by the end of 2006. Loss of the massive wetland area would likely take the future of several of the world’s rare and endangered bird species with it.

News Updates

Analysis

Bus Rapid Transit: A Step Toward Fairness in China's Urban Transportation

Rush hour is usually a nightmare for Beijing's bus commuters. Squeezed from all sides, riders endure polluted air and chilly winter winds that seep in through gaps in the windows, or suffer en masse in the scorching summer sun.

Government Encouraging Smaller Cars, Improved Fuel Efficiency

In early January, China called for a nationwide repeal of restrictions on smaller, more economical cars by the end of March in a move to ease the country's growing dependence on imported oil.

China Opens Up Aviation Market, Bringing Potential Environmental Challenges

In mid-August, China’s aviation administration, CAAC, issued a series of new policies aimed at increasing private investment in the civil aviation sector, according to a recent report released by the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation.

News Updates

Study Highlights Four Key Health Challenges in Developing Countries; China Struggling With All

A new publication, Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, identifies four key challenges faced by the public health sector in the developing world: the transformation of epidemiology, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the emergence of new diseases, and high sanitation imbalances among countries.

China Tackles Disasters with New Emergency Response System

In 2005, China was plagued by all manner of natural disasters, from floods, typhoons, and earthquakes to droughts, blizzards, and landslides.

PVC Food Wrap Has Caught Chinese Government's Attention

Concern about the widespread use of carcinogenic polyvinylchloride (PVC) food wrap in Chinese supermarkets has caught the attention of both the media and the Chinese government in recent weeks. While most food wraps sold for home use in China are made of safer alternatives, PVC plastic is still used to seal vegetables, fruits, meat, and other cooked food in supermarkets nationwide.

China Faces Grim AIDS Threat

A public health official warned on Saturday that China will likely see a widespread AIDS pandemic if timely counter measures are not adopted, according to Xinhua News Agency.

New Outbreak of Avian Flu Reported in Inner Mongolia

A fresh outbreak of avian flu is reported to have taken place at a poultry farm in Tengjiaying Village, Inner Mongolia, killing 2,600 birds, Xinhua News Agency reported on October 19. China’s national bird flu laboratory confirmed it was the H5N1 strain, which is potentially lethal to humans.

Analysis

Filthy Air Choking China's Growth, Olympic Goals

In a recent study of overcast versus cloud-free days in China, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that the amount of sunlight reaching the ground at 500 measurement stations in China fell dramatically between 1954 and 2001.

News Updates

Villagers Attack Factories over Pollution in Eastern China

More than 100 villagers rampaged through a tannery complex in Quanzhou in China’s eastern Fujian Province on April 9, attacking several factories over their air and water pollution.

China Releases Latest Census Results

China's population was 1,306,280,000 on November 1, 2005, according to the latest census report released by China's National Bureau of Statistics on March 16. The number, which excludes Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, was estimated to reach 1,307,560,000 by the end of 2005.

Schools Overcharge Students, Revealing Imbalances in China's Education System

China's National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC) announced that eight schools overcharged parents to the tune of 22.7 million RMB (US $2.84 million) during the 2004-05 period, Xinhua News reported on February 19.

SEPA Releases New Measure on Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment Process

BEIJING—The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), China’s top environmental body, has released a tentative measure on public involvement in the nation’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.

SEPA Chief Resigns Over Harbin Disaster

China's cabinet today approved the resignation request of Xie Zhenhua, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

Rapid Urbanization Catching Experts' Attention

Shenyang, a northeastern Chinese city that has experienced rapid urbanization in recent years, will eliminate the formal distinction between urban and rural residents, granting 800,000 rural dwellers urban rights over the next five years, Xinhua Net reported in early November.

China Tackling Corruption, Safety Concerns in Coal Production

Recognizing that rampant collusion between local officials and private mine owners is the main reason for poor safety conditions in China's coal mines, the central government has stepped-up efforts to root out this corruption. Among other moves, it has begun shutting down illegal coalmines, ordering local officials to withdraw their investments in mines, and strictly punishing officials who attempt to circumvent government investigations.

Analysis

Local Group Nurtures Indigenous Voices in Development of China's West

Nestled in a small building complex in the heart of Kunming in southwestern China, the Center for Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge (CBIK) is easily overlooked. But behind its modest headquarters, this 100-member strong organization is changing the face of development in China's remote western provinces.

Maturing Environmental Movement Takes Uniquely Chinese Approach

As this tumultuous year of toxic spills, violent protests, and mining disasters winds down, some Chinese environmentalists are heaving a sigh of relief in anticipation of better days ahead in the Year of the Dog, which begins on January 29.

Luxury Spending: China's Affluent Entering "Enjoy Now" Phase of Consumption

China is now the world's third largest buyer of luxury consumer goods, accounting for 12 percent of global demand, according to a Goldman Sachs report released December 11.

Tarnished Philanthropy: China Questions Recent Medical Supply Shipments from U.S.

Two U.S.-based philanthropic organizations faced considerable embarrassment this year when their donations to China were found to contain large quantities of expired medical supplies and second-hand medical equipment. While the details surrounding the cases have yet to be unraveled, the frequency of such events should raise alarm bells.

China to Strengthen Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessments

In early November, China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) circulated for comment a draft regulation intended to strengthen public participation in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.

In Wake of Songhua Disaster, Environmentalists Divided Over Future of Environmental Protection in China

The recent chemical spill on the Songhua River and resulting resignation of China's top environmental official Xie Zhenhua from leadership of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has brought much speculation about the future of Chinese environmental protection efforts.

Environmental Activist Arrested in Hangzhou; Movement Still Hampered by Legal and Financial Restrictions

The environmental movement in China received a setback in late October with the arrest of Hangzhou activist Tan Kai, founder of the monitoring group Green Watch. While charges are unclear, Kai and five other members of the group were brought in for questioning after opening a bank account for the not-yet-registered organization, according to the New York-based organization.

China Tightens Controls Over Internet News, Raises Concern Among Environmental, Grassroots Groups

On September 25, the Chinese government set new regulations on Internet news content, strengthening its control over the operations of online news organizations and the country’s rapidly growing Internet population.

News Updates

Multinational Corporations Violating China's Environmental Laws and Regulations

Over the last three years, the Chinese government has punished 33 multinational corporations for violating the nation’s environmental laws and regulations, according to Ma Jun, director of the nongovernmental Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs.

Chinese Government to Start "Buying Green"

China’s Ministry of Finance and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) have announced that starting in 2007, the nation’s central and provincial governments will prioritize their purchasing of environmentally friendly products and services.

China's "Green" Investment to Outpace GDP Growth

China’s investment in environmental protection is projected to grow faster than the county’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to Jun Ma, Greater China chief economist with Deutsche Bank. By 2010, “green” investments will account for 1.6 percent of Chinese GDP, or 1.9 trillion yuan (US$242 billion), growing at an average rate of 16 percent a year until then.

China's Growth Rate Revised Upward, Heightening Concerns About Overinvestment, Trade Surplus, and Environmental Destruction

In its Asian Development Outlook 2006 Update, launched on September 6, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) revised upward its economic growth forecast for China for 2006, from 9.5 percent to 10.4 percent. The Bank also projected full-year growth for 2007 at 9.5 percent.

New Report Urges Global Companies to Turn Attention to China's Surging Consumer Class

Amidst consistently high economic growth, a visible consumer culture is emerging in urban China.

China Faces Employment Crisis; Recent Graduates, Rural Migrants Among Hardest Hit

Despite record-shattering economic growth rates and swift industrialization, a major jobs crisis is brewing in mainland China.

China Integrating "Green" Concepts into Olympic Venues

As Beijing moves forward with construction for the 2008 Summer Olympics, project developers are embracing state-of-the-art energy technologies as well as measures to save water and protect sensitive ecosystems.

China's Pharmaceutical Industry Lacks Innovation, Lags Behind

The gap between the Chinese and global pharmaceutical sectors has widened in recent years

China to Become Second Largest Tourism Economy within the Decade

As China’s tourism industry flourishes, the country is poised to become the world’s second largest travel and tourism economy after the United States by 2015, according to a new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

China Imposes Consumption Tax on Large Cars, Environmentally Un-sound Goods

Starting April 1, Chinese consumers who buy cars with engine capacities of more than four liters will be required to pay a consumption tax of 20 percent.

China Submits 2,452 International Patent Applications in 2005, Enters World Top 10

Statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) indicate that China was the tenth biggest patent applicant in 2005, submitting 2,452 inventions, designs, and other items to the Geneva-based organization, reports China News.

Chinese Power Giant to Sell Carbon Dioxide to Spain under CDM Contract

The Chinese electric utility Huaneng and the Spanish National Power Corporation Endesa have unveiled a pioneering initiative for purchasing emissions credits generated under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), according to the 21st Century Business Herald.

Report: Multinational Corporations in China Lag on Environmental Protection

On December 7, Nanfang Weekend, a well-known Chinese newspaper, published a ranking of Fortune 500 companies' performance in China, revealing the poor records of the multinational corporations (MNCs) in tax payment, employee welfare, and environmental protection.

China Calls on the U.S. to Join Kyoto Protocol

China is the world's second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and its new assertiveness on the issue leaves the United States, the world's largest emitter, even more isolated.

China to Increase Investment in Environmental Protection

China is expected to invest over 1,300 billion RMB (US $156.6 billion) in environmental protection between 2006 and 2010, more than 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP over this period, Xie Zhenhua, Director of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said on Tuesday. Xie made the remark during a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholar's China Environment Forum.

China Woos Foreign Investors to Boost Sewage Treatment

As China aims to double its sewage disposal capacity over the next five years, the demand for additional treatment facilities is expected to skyrocket. The Chinese government is extending an invitation to foreign investors to make up for the huge financial shortfall in the country's sewage treatment market.

China Ranks Third Hardest Hit by Disasters

Over 70 percent of China's big cities, more than half of its population of 1.3 billion, and 75 percent of its key industrial and agricultural areas are located in regions prone to weather-related and geological disasters, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Analysis

Chinese Companies Tackling Intellectual Property Rights Issues

A Beijing district court ruled that China's top Internet search provider, Baidu.com, infringed the copyrights of 34 recordings belonging to the Shanghai-based agency Push Sound and must pay US $10,000 dollars in compensation.

Lack of Corporate Social Responsibility Behind Recent China Accidents

In the past month alone, China has suffered from two very serious human-caused disasters. Less then two weeks after a November 13 chemical plant explosion in Jilin province released a flood of toxins into the Songhua River, a blast at Dongfeng coal mine in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang killed 171 miners.
Over the last three years, the Chinese government has punished 33 multinational corporations for violating the nation’s environmental laws and regulations, according to Ma Jun, director of the nongovernmental Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs.

Chinese Government to Start "Buying Green"

China’s Ministry of Finance and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) have announced that starting in 2007, the nation’s central and provincial governments will prioritize their purchasing of environmentally friendly products and services.

China's "Green" Investment to Outpace GDP Growth

China’s investment in environmental protection is projected to grow faster than the county’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to Jun Ma, Greater China chief economist with Deutsche Bank. By 2010, “green” investments will account for 1.6 percent of Chinese GDP, or 1.9 trillion yuan (US$242 billion), growing at an average rate of 16 percent a year until then.

China's Growth Rate Revised Upward, Heightening Concerns About Overinvestment, Trade Surplus, and Environmental Destruction

In its Asian Development Outlook 2006 Update, launched on September 6, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) revised upward its economic growth forecast for China for 2006, from 9.5 percent to 10.4 percent. The Bank also projected full-year growth for 2007 at 9.5 percent.

New Report Urges Global Companies to Turn Attention to China's Surging Consumer Class

Amidst consistently high economic growth, a visible consumer culture is emerging in urban China.

China Faces Employment Crisis; Recent Graduates, Rural Migrants Among Hardest Hit

Despite record-shattering economic growth rates and swift industrialization, a major jobs crisis is brewing in mainland China.

China Integrating "Green" Concepts into Olympic Venues

As Beijing moves forward with construction for the 2008 Summer Olympics, project developers are embracing state-of-the-art energy technologies as well as measures to save water and protect sensitive ecosystems.

China's Pharmaceutical Industry Lacks Innovation, Lags Behind

The gap between the Chinese and global pharmaceutical sectors has widened in recent years

China to Become Second Largest Tourism Economy within the Decade

As China’s tourism industry flourishes, the country is poised to become the world’s second largest travel and tourism economy after the United States by 2015, according to a new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

China Imposes Consumption Tax on Large Cars, Environmentally Un-sound Goods

Starting April 1, Chinese consumers who buy cars with engine capacities of more than four liters will be required to pay a consumption tax of 20 percent.

China Submits 2,452 International Patent Applications in 2005, Enters World Top 10

Statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) indicate that China was the tenth biggest patent applicant in 2005, submitting 2,452 inventions, designs, and other items to the Geneva-based organization, reports China News.

Chinese Power Giant to Sell Carbon Dioxide to Spain under CDM Contract

The Chinese electric utility Huaneng and the Spanish National Power Corporation Endesa have unveiled a pioneering initiative for purchasing emissions credits generated under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), according to the 21st Century Business Herald.

Report: Multinational Corporations in China Lag on Environmental Protection

On December 7, Nanfang Weekend, a well-known Chinese newspaper, published a ranking of Fortune 500 companies' performance in China, revealing the poor records of the multinational corporations (MNCs) in tax payment, employee welfare, and environmental protection.

China Calls on the U.S. to Join Kyoto Protocol

China is the world's second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and its new assertiveness on the issue leaves the United States, the world's largest emitter, even more isolated.

China to Increase Investment in Environmental Protection

China is expected to invest over 1,300 billion RMB (US $156.6 billion) in environmental protection between 2006 and 2010, more than 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP over this period, Xie Zhenhua, Director of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said on Tuesday. Xie made the remark during a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholar's China Environment Forum.

China Woos Foreign Investors to Boost Sewage Treatment

As China aims to double its sewage disposal capacity over the next five years, the demand for additional treatment facilities is expected to skyrocket. The Chinese government is extending an invitation to foreign investors to make up for the huge financial shortfall in the country's sewage treatment market.

China Ranks Third Hardest Hit by Disasters

Over 70 percent of China's big cities, more than half of its population of 1.3 billion, and 75 percent of its key industrial and agricultural areas are located in regions prone to weather-related and geological disasters, according to Xinhua News Agency.