China has experienced tremendous economic growth over the years. This growth however comes with a number of problems including environmental degradation, management of exchange rate, export dependency, corruption, healthcare provision, a growing income inequality and many more. These problems have threatened to undermine the benefits of the country's economic growth.
Increased environmental pollution and natural resource degradation have proved to be very serious negative consequences of rapid industrial development in China. This has led to problems like desertification, soil erosion and fall in the water table, particularly in the northern parts of the country. Even though the country has passed various environmental laws and taken part in a number of international conventions against pollution, pollution still remains a very serious concern in China, both now and in the future.
According to a WHO report in 1998, seventy per cent of the most polluted cities in the world are in China. China's own evaluation admits that over 66 per cent of its cities are polluted, with two thirds of them being either severely or moderately polluted. Consequently, heart and respiratory diseases have become major causes of death in the country.
Most of Chinese rivers are polluted and more th...
The problem of severe water scarcity has also come out particularly in northern China (Starr, 2001). This has threatened the country's economic growth, forcing the government to plan diversion of the Yangtze River water to northern China cities which include Tianjin and Beijing.
Thirty per cent of China has experienced acid rain as a result of massive air pollution. China's GDP has been growing at a rate of between 7 to 10 per cent every year. However, over 300 million people in the rural parts of the country do no have access to clean, safe water. Moreover, about 800 million people in China have not seen any improvement hygiene and sanitation in the recent years.
China has attempted containing its rising industrial pollution mainly through efforts aimed at increasing public awareness and through administrative procedures. The severely polluted Pearl River Delta, which is among the country's first major industrialized areas, was targeted for a clean-up. Chinese officials were hopeful that replacing sewage treatment plants in cities within the delta would make it possible for the river to sustain a fish population before the year 2000.
China has also seen the emergence of a growing environmental protection industry. However, in a number of areas, pollution has been accepted as a cost related to economic development.
China's Three Gorges Dam has sparked a lot of controversy with regard to its environmental impacts. This controversy has mainly been among environmentalists both within the country and without. Critics have been of the view that silting and erosion of the Yantze River is a threat to a number of endangered species in the area.
On the other hand, Chinese officials have maintained that this dam will go a long