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China's Pollution Olympics

Posted July 9, 2008

Topics: Geo-politics, Global Business

Special to Asia Times Online
By Peter Navarro

Sometimes it's the little stories that tell us the most. Consider the news of a keel-crippling algal bloom covering a third of the Olympic sailing course in Qingdao, China. While a small army of workers, a large armada of boats, and a full battalion of dump trucks and bulldozers are desperately trying to clear up this embarrassing counterpoint to China's claim of a "green games", international competitors desperate for practice are forced to stew in dry dock.

In fact, this kind of event is far from atypical in the world's most polluted nation. Today, fully 70% of China's seven major rivers are severely polluted, 80% of its rivers fail to meet standards for fishing, and 90% of the country's cities suffer from some degree of water pollution. As a result, over 700 million Chinese drink fetid water of a quality well below World Health Organization standards. Meanwhile, liver and stomach cancers related to water pollution are among the leading causes of death in the countryside, while 21 cities along the Yellow River are characterized by the highest measurable levels of pollution.
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