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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 pollution.

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in cooperation with Chinese government ministries over several years, acknowledged on Tuesday that some data had been withdrawn from the draft but did not go into details.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 transparent.

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 environmental accidents.
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/07/03/2258/

Russian Far East Under Threat of Pollution After China Factory Blast

Created: 23.11.2005 11:17 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:17 MSK

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.
http://www.mosnews.com/news/2005/11/23/amurpollution.shtml

Polluted river water heads toward Chinese city
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.
http://channels.netscape.com/tech/story.jsp?floc=ne-sci-8-l0&flok=FF-RTO-romta&idq=/ff/story/0002%2F20051124%2F0539196058.htm&sc=romta

Spill Taints Beijing Image
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 development.
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.
http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=Spill+Taints+Beijing+Image&btnG=Search+News
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-fg-water25nov25,1,3478322.story?coll=la-news-environment


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.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/19/international/asia/19china.html?hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1121767676-5CLjKZlkcolP8KZ2yhXosA

http://www.svtc.org/cleancc/video/asia2.ram