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A Call To Action: China’s Government Needs to Reduce Pollution Emissions
China’s government should reduce pollution emissions by creating more environmental protection laws and by strictly enforcing current environmental laws. Some of the many laws that could supplement the current laws include creating more waste management centers, setting a required distance for factories can be from a population while in operation, and monitoring the emissions of major pollutants frequently. By adding these laws, the number of people affected by pollution would greatly reduce, and create a better standard of living for the people of China.
Since industrialization, China’s economy has grown exponentially. As it moves from communist to capitalist economy, the ideas of free market trade allow for new industries to takes root within China. While this economic growth has been extremely beneficial for some of China's population and the rest of the world, this success has come at the cost of millions of lives. Chinese companies are not the sole entity to blame. Outsourcing, which has become a controversy political issue in many political arenas supports the Chinese government in their lack of action to create and enforce environmental protection laws.
Many of China’s citizens who are affected by water and air pollution are not receiving the benefits of their economy's growth and are purely paying the price for other people’s success through unfair challenges resulting from industrial pollution. Because there is ample open land in the interior of China’s mainland, many of the industries new to China have placed factories in these areas. The lack of dense population accompanied by China’s lack of environmental laws has created a haven for uncensored industrial growth.
Because China is environmentally and economically connected to other countries, these issues are not localized. China is responsible for one-third of the total world’s air pollution. The number of premature deaths from this pollution is so extreme and horrifying, Chinese government officials have removed statistics from published government documents. They have done this in attempts to prevent further civil unrest in China and from receiving additional judgement from the rest of the world (Platt). With information learned from fairly recent findings, it is possible for researchers to attempt to track and predict where pollution will travel. This is important because densely populated areas can potentially be protected from the detrimental effects of pollution. If these findings were implemented more frequently, the number of premature deaths from pollution could be dramatically decreased (Ho and Nielsen).
Currently, pollution in China threatens one-sixth of its population consisting of over 1.3 billion people. The World Health Organization (WHO) “estimates that diseases triggered by indoor and outdoor air pollution kill 656,000 Chinese citizens each year, and polluted drinking water kills another 95,600” (Platt). In this article, “Chinese Air Pollution Deadliest in World”, depicting the immense affects of air pollution in China, the statistic includes individuals who have developed cancer from their environment. Because the affects of China’s industrial pollution are so detrimental, there are villages with an overwhelming number of cancer victims. These villages are commonly known as cancer clusters. It is no surprise that this is occurring given that “90 percent of the rivers that flow through Chinese urban centers are severely polluted”(Liu).
Many of the people who develop cancer in cancer cluster villages neither have the financial means to receive adequate health care nor the ability to leave their polluted homes. Kong Heqin, who suffers from intestinal and throat cancer, is one of the many victims of industrial growth who has developed cancer as a result toxic water. She expressed her distain about her horrible situation saying that she had already undergone three cancer surgeries to contain her cancer and these operations had left her unable to pass solid waste. She continues by saying that she can still feel the tumors but “have spent 70,000 yuan ($8,700) on three operations and I can't borrow any more... My husband said we could sell our older son... to raise the money, but I refused. I would rather die” (Liu). While facing cancer, she and the rest of her community are straining water containing sediment and drinking and cooking with this contaminated water because it is their primary water source. While the factory that is creating this sediment filled water is making profit, Kong Heqin, is dying of cancer and does not have the financial means to seek further treatment.
There are many instances where these industries cause natural disasters or chronic illnesses for the inhabitance who live near the factories or use shared water sources. In November, iron ore mining blasts caused sever respiratory and skin irritations in the Gaocun Village and the ailments the villagers face as a result of the iron mining cannot be eased by medicine. Mine blasting in China have been notoriously dangerous both to miners and bystanders because of the lack of environmental protection and safety laws. While some people may think that this is an isolated problem, it is not. Contaminated water and polluted air spread to neighboring countries and harm the health of people who live there as well. Many of China’s citizens who are affected by toxic water produced by various industries are too poor to move or to force the government to make changes that will improve their standard of living. As a result, they have to make a choice to either spend money on buying goods that have not been contaminated or to chance developing a devastating disease. This ultimatum, created by industries who do not have to face the same choice, could be easily fixed with the help of the Chinese government by adding and enforcing additional environment protection laws.
Chinese Citizens have not been passive in voicing their desire for chance. Rallies of citizens have been known to destroy factories to bring light to the environmental problems that are a result of industrial waste. Because the environment is closely tied to the well being of this its inhabitance, when factories began to release toxic waste into the water, toxins quickly entered the water table. Many people who live in these area complain that it is difficult to find clean water for drinking as well as for growing crops. After these factories began to dump waste into the water, crops have not been able to grow through out regions of China. This creates even more devastation for the afflicted people of these areas. The inhumane actions of industries in China create a reality where people no longer have access to clean water, air, food, or the ability to grow crops to create an income. These abilities are all non negotiable human rights and should be insured to the Chinese people.
The need for change has not only voiced by the Chinese people, but by various global activist groups as well. This movement has allowed for some change within the country. Change can be seen by the banning of pollution in the Pearl River Delta region of China. This region is one of China’s leading economic and manufacturing regions and thus produces large amounts of toxic waste. The area’s government officials are attempting to stop the increases of pollution by preventing the three major polluting industries from expanding. This shows that both China’s growing industries are the direct cause of pollution, and that the Chinese government is aware of this fact. It is crucial for these environmental protection laws to be enforced because while some areas of China do have some kinds of environmental protection laws if they are not enforced it shows companies that they do not need to comply to Chinese law. It also demonstrates a greater lack of disregard for Chinese lives by their won government which feeds civil unrest. This is not a hypothetical situation, but reality as seen in “Zhoukou City in central Henan province, [where] 15 of 23 factories inspected were found to be illegally dumping waste” (Polluting projects banned from Pearl River Delta Area). If these factories were forced to comply with Chinese environmental laws, there would be less pollution harming the environment and people’s health and would also set a president for the strict implication of environmental laws in the future.
This toxic environment is a result of greed and disregard for human life. This greed is not only that of Chinese businesses, but other international organizations as well who take advantage of the lack of regulation in China and have no regard for the price their company’s growth. The only way this can stop, is though actions taken by the Chinese government. If they put into place stringent environment protection laws, it will be more difficult for companies to be as profitable in China because they will need to change their factories and plants to be more environmentally friendly. These modifications are expensive and thus the current lack of this regulation demonstrates the reason for the businesses locating to China. Cooperations may think that adding or enforcing these regulations now is unfair because it may be costly to chance factories and might reduce potential profits in the future, but a human’s right to life is much more precious and indispensable than the earnings of a company.