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HENRY JL BADENHORST

CHINA: Sustainable
Development and the
environment
Henry JL Badenhorst
Email: henry_badenhorst@yahoo.com
4/20/2010

Soli Deo Gloria

Abstract: China is experiencing one of the most extraordinary economic growth rates in world history, since the
onset of its open door policy of economic reform and liberalisation. This explosive growth over the last 2
decades has left a serious scar on the environment and the prospects of sustainable development. In response to
this growing dilemma, China has initiated several environmental reforms, environmental protection initiatives
and environmental policies, to ensure sustained Chinese economic growth, while at the same time ensuring
environmental protection.

(i)

Title: The promotion of sustainable development in China with reference to its


growth and conservation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGES
1. Introduction

2. Environmental problems in China.

3. Case Study: Three Gorges Dam project. What can we learn?

4. Degradation and Restoration of forest eco-systems.

5. Chinese Environmental Policy: Successes and Challenges

6. Economical and Environmental implications of the relationship


between China and the World Trade Organisation.

7. Conclusion

10

8. Bibliography

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Introduction
Due to Chinas rapid rise economically and industrially, as well as its huge population, which
has done serious damage to the environment, China is now facing an environmental crisis,
like no country before. Chinas economic reform has increased the pressure on the
environment, from air and water pollution to soil erosion and desertification (Eyferth, Ho &
Vermeer. 2003: 107). Economical and Environmental Sustainable development in China are
being promoted by the Chinese government in various ways and through various initiatives as
China is being confronted by an economic explosion on the one hand and serious
environmental decline on the other. The current environmental problems in China are
discussed under the categories of air, land, fresh water, the ocean, and biodiversity. The largescale resettlement of the Three Gorges Dam reservoir area is discussed in terms of its
environmental impact, the challenges that the Chinese government faced and their response to
these challenges. Next, Chinas limited forest resources and the Chinese governments
response to this ecological dilemma receive attention. Lastly, the economical and
environmental implication of China accession into the WTO, is discussed.

Environmental problems in China


China faces a myriad of environmental problems, which ranges from air pollution,
biodiversity losses, cropland losses, depleted fisheries, desertification, disappearing wetlands,
grasslands degradation, and increasing frequency and scale of human induced natural
disasters, to invasive species, overgrazing, interrupted river flows, salinization, soil erosion,
trash accumulation, and water pollution and shortages (Liu & Diamond. 2005:224). Chinas
environmental problems are categorized under air, land, fresh water, oceans and bio diversity
and each will be discussed separately (Liu & Diamond. 2005:226).
The first category where environmental problems in China occur is air. The air quality of
China is generally low with 75 percent of urban dwellers living below Chinas air-quality
standard with a high incidence of acid rain, caused mainly by the increasing output of
industrial waste gasses (Liu & Diamond. 2005:226). Rapid industrial growth of approximately
10 percent annually has pushed Chinas sulphur dioxide (SO2) levels and soot emissions to 20
billion and 11 billion tons respectively in 2000, where it led the world SO2 emissions (Ho &
Vermeer. 2006:148). According to Wen (2009:24), China in 2007 overtook the U.S. as the
worlds largest Carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter. The Third Assessment Report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly indicated that most of the
global warming observed over the past 50 years, was likely induced by the increase in
concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4),
and nitrous oxide (N2O), due to human activities (Chinas National Climate Change
Programme. 2007:4).

The second category of environmental problems within China is land. According to the
UNDP, around 38 percent of China has been affected by soil erosion and is the area of desert
increasing at an annual rate of 2 500 km (Nolan.2005:243). The Chang Jiang (Yangtze)
rivers sediment discharges from soil erosion exceeds that of the Nile and Amazon rivers
combined (Liu & Diamond. 2005:226). Soil quality, fertility and quantity have declined, due
to long-term fertilizer use and a pesticide-related decline in soil-renewing earthworms (Liu &
Diamond. 2005:227). Salinization has affected 9 percent of Chins lands, due to poor design
and irrigation systems (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227). Chinas cropland has been reduced by a
combination of soil problems, urbanization, and land appropriation for mining, forestry and
aquaculture, threatening food security (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227). Cropland to the extent of
100 000 km has been taken over or damaged by unrecycled and unused industrial waste and
domestic trash in open fields around cities (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227).
The third category of environmental problems China faces is fresh water. Industrial and
municipal waste water discharges as well as agri- and aqua-cultural run-offs of fertilizers,
pesticides and manure, has led to poor and declining river and groundwater sources, as well as
widespread eutrophication (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227). The majority of Chinese lakes are
seriously eutrophied, yet chemical fertilizer usage is on the rise (Ho & Vermeer. 2006:147).
Chinas emission of organic water pollutants is as large as that of the U.S., Russia, India and
Japan combined (Nolan.2005:243). China is also facing one of the worlds worst water
shortages, since per capita it only has 35 percent of the worlds fresh water resources. A large
amount of Chinese cities, which depend on ground water from aquifers, are staring serious
water shortages in the face, since these aquifers are becoming depleted and in some cases
coastal aquifers are being filled by seawater (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227). Rising fish
consumption and overfishing have also degraded freshwater fisheries, disturbing the ecosystem (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227).
Another category where China experience environmental problems, is the ocean. Almost all
of Chinas 3 million km sea area, extending up to 200 nautical miles of its coast, is polluted
by pollutants from land plus oil spills (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227). In 2003, 20 outlets alone
of the 867 identified outlets, were pumping 880 million tonnes of sewage water, containing
1.3 million tonnes of pollutants, made up of lead, cadmium and arsenic, into the ocean,
leading to an ever increasing amount of red tides (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227). Here too,
fishing stocks have been severely depleted due to overfishing and pollution (Liu & Diamond.
2005:227).
The last category of Chinas environmental problems is that of biodiversity. More than 10
percent of the worlds vascular plant and terrestrial vertebrate species can be found in China.
In 2005, 15-20 percent of all species were considered endangered, despite concerted efforts by
the Chinese government over the past two decades to protect plant and animal life through the
establishment of nature reserves, zoos, museums and botanical gardens (Liu & Diamond.

2005:228). Invading pests and weeds, such as ragweed, water hyacinth and Amazonian snails,
have furthermore, inflicted heavy losses on the agricultural, aqua cultural, forestry and
livestock sectors of the Chinese economy (Liu & Diamond. 2005:228).
Factors that have contributed to the cause and exacerbation of these environmental problems
include; China huge population in the excess of 1.3 billion people; the presence of foreign
multi-national companies that have their base of operations in China, producing most of the
worlds consumer export goods; the rapid rate of industrialization and urbanization within
China and consequent economic explosion; the fact that China is the leading consumer of
fertilizer and the second largest consumer of pesticides, which leads to air, water and land
pollution; Chinas transportation networks explosive growth; energy inefficient, outdated and
polluting technologies in much of Chinas industry with regards to coal mining and cement,
paper and chemical production; irrigation methods that rely on inefficient surface methods
that waste water, cause eutrophication and wash nutrients out of the soil and sediments into
rivers; China being the second largest energy consumer in the world; and the fact that China
is the largest producer and consumer of coal in the world, the main cause of its air pollution
and acid rain, to mention a few (Liu & Diamond. 2005:224-229).
Case Study: Three Gorges Dam project. What can we learn?
Large-scale resettlement of the Three Gorges Dam reservoir area is one of the biggest
challenges facing the Chinese government, since the commencement of the Three Gorges
Dam project in 1994 and estimated completion in 2009, where an estimate of at least 1.2
million people had to be resettled to areas above the inundation line of the Yangtze river
Three gorges reservoir area. The main issue is whether there is sufficient environmental and
carrying capacity in the Three Gorges Dam area (Heggelund. 2006: 149). Carrying capacity
refers to the maximum number of people that a given area will maintain in perpetuity under a
given system of usage without land degradation setting in, while environmental capacity can
be defined as linking together several issues, such as resettlement, economic development,
and ecological and environmental protection of a fixed area (Heggelund. 2006:150,152).
The Three Gorges Dam resettlement process entails long-term impoverishment risks. A large
and growing body of literature on risk related to development-induced displacement of people
and an increasing awareness of the rights of the displaced people now exists (Heggelund.
2006:153). Cerneas IRR (Impoverished Risks and Reconstruction) model has been one of the
more influential and it presents operational tools and has identified key risks in resettlement
(Heggelund. 2006:153). According to Heggelund (2006:153), this IRR model is relevant for
identifying risks in the Three Gorges Dam Project.
Even though China has in many ways managed to pre-empt the potential risks of the model,
by greatly improving its resettlement programmes since the 1980s, the process are not going
as smoothly (Heggelund. 2006:154). Selected points or dimensions of the IRR model in the

Chinese context has been identified and include landlessness and food insecurity, joblessness,
and marginalisation and social disarticulation each of which will be briefly discussed
(Heggelund. 2006:154).
One of the biggest challenges for rural resettlement in the Three Gorges area is lack of
available farmland, which ultimately leads to food insecurity (Heggelund. 2006:154). A lot of
the land will be inundated, leaving very little to work with, since a lot of the land is
mountainous and a large portion already under cultivation. Before inundation, population
density was already high and losing land will exacerbate the problem further. Even before
resettlement, adequate farmland was a problem in some areas and inundation will only
aggravate the problem further (Heggelund. 2006:154).
Another dimension of the IRR model is joblessness. Many farmers will lose their land and are
forced to live in towns and cities, forcing them to change their occupation and seek alternative
employment in urban areas (Heggelund. 2006:156). Finding employment may seem difficult
for many and without land, they may not meet their daily subsistence needs (Heggelund.
2006:156). Unemployment in urban areas, severely restrict the prospects of rural farmers
moving into urban areas, engaging in non-farm work (Heggelund. 2006:156).
Relocatees, who are unable after resettlement to regain their economic strength, will be faced
by marginalisation (Heggelund. 2006:157). The rural population will, due to inundation, be
unable to use their skills and farm the land as before (Heggelund. 2006:157). There are also
secondary migrants who have lost their land due to the relocation and reconstruction of homes
for primary migrants who lived below the inundation line (Heggelund. 2006:157). Again
those who have lost their land are forced to seek alternative occupations within urban areas,
with relatively few skills and existing unemployment in urban areas. Community solidarity,
such as sharing of losses are non-existent in the Three Gorges resettlement, instead, conflicts
between the host population and relocatees are common (Heggelund. 2006:158). Resettlement
negatively affects relocatees in the sense that family networks are being disturbed, which
traditionally is very important in China (Heggelund. 2006:158).
Limitations to the IRR model in the Three Gorges Resettlement are; absence of the rule of
law, which includes, non-existent public participation in the decision making process, arrests
and humiliation of protesting relocatees, exclusion of human rights; a refusal to consider
population pressure, diminishing natural resources and environmental pollution when
resettlement is planned; the corruption and embezzlement of resettlement funds due to
decentralised authorities responsible for funds management; and little focus on the social
aspects and the social trauma of broken networks when friends and families are forced to split
up and ancestral land has to be abandoned (Heggelund. 2006:159-160).
The Chinese authorities responded to the resettlement problems by initiating two steps,
namely to move 125 000 people out of the reservoir area and by re-issuing new resettlement

regulations. Previously Chinese authorities resettled people in the vicinity of their former
homes, whether it was sustainable or not, but with their new approach they relocated people to
other provinces, aiming to protect the environment, whilst also reconstructing livelihoods for
the resettled population (Heggelund. 2006:161). The fact that the majority of these people will
be moved to provinces that is situated in the eastern coastal provinces or along or close to the
Yangtze River, has increased the chances of successful resettlement (Heggelund. 2006:161).
One major change in the resettlement regulations, is the increased emphasis on environmental
protection and all sections of the improved regulations have articles that have instructions
regarding the rational use of natural resources, environmental protection and water and soil
conservation (Heggelund. 2006:162).
Degradation and restoration of forest eco-systems
Over the past 4 decades nearly half of Chinas forests have been destroyed, leaving China
with one of the most sparse forest covers in the world (Nolan. 2005:243). Deforestation is
furthermore, a major cause of soil erosion and flooding (Liu & Diamond. 2005:227). China
has very limited forest resources with both the forest area and forest cover well below the
world average. (Wenhua. 2004:518,525) Even though the government has increasingly
addressed forest resource protection, the fact remains that degradation of forests, caused by
unsound exploitation, forest fires and pests and diseases, remains a serious threat. Further
factors that have led to the deterioration of forest and a reduction in biodiversity includes;
rapid population growth and consequent pressure on land, coupled with development of
agriculture, industry and construction; over-exploitation of forest resources; and the
subsequent farming activities on steep slopes (Wenhua. 2004:518-519). Forest degradation led
to a series of hazards and natural disasters, like soil erosion, desertification and floods, so
much so that 38 percent of Chinas total land area were eroded by 2004 (Wenhua. 2004:519).
Even though large scale plantation-style forests have increased, natural forests have declined,
resulting in a loss and fragmentation of natural habitats for many plant and animal species,
leading to the extinction of at least 200 plant species and the loss of habitat for more than 61
percent of wildlife species (Wenhua. 2004:519). In 1998, flash flooding as a result of loss of
vegetative cover cost the Chinese government US $ 20 billion in damages (Wenhua.
2004:519).
In response to this dilemma the Chinese government,

devised a strategy of forest

development under the framework of the sustainable development of the country was
published, with the following points for restoration of degraded forest systems, namely: 1.
The conservation and management of natural forest resources; 2. the control of forest fires and
the protection of forests from insects and pests; 3. rational forest felling and regeneration;
strengthening the development of protective shelterbelts in key environmental fragile areas; 4.
the conservation of biodiversity and the establishment of nature reserves; 5. afforestation and
mandatory conservation of farmland to forest lands; 6. the establishment of a strategy for

sustainable development of forestry; 7. forestry research, education and training; and 8.


policies to regulate forestry (Wenhua. 2004:519-525).
Highlights of these strategy points include: the establishment of the NFCP (National Forest
Conservation Programme), which aim to restore natural forests, planting forests for soil and
water protection, increasing timber production in forest plantations, protecting existing natural
forests from excessive cutting, and maintaining a multiple-use policy in natural forests;
Chinas aims to enhance its overall capability for fire prevention and control, with emphasis
on prevention, by means of prediction and forecasting, forest fire monitoring and look-out,
radio communication systems, airstrips for surveillance planes and the establishment of
firebreaks; an acute reduction in forest cover and deterioration of forest resources due to an
indiscriminate system of tree felling and where no attention were being paid to regeneration,
has led to government intervention, whereby government strictly control tree feeling and
selective cutting instead of clear-cutting is encouraged, as well as where regeneration is
required immediately after cutting; the establishment of five ecological forest projects as part
their strategy to strengthen the development of protective shelterbelts in key environmental
fragile regions; the conservation and utilization of biodiversity, wild fauna and wetlands by
promulgating laws to regulate and protect it, such as the Forestry Law and Wild Animal
Protection Law; efforts by the Chinese government to establish natural forest reserves and to
save and protect rare and endangered animal and plant species; Afforestation, to rehabilitate
mountain areas, highlands, abandoned land, degraded cultivated lands and dry areas and has
been used with success in China; a successful program launched by the Chinese government
to combat soil erosion and rehabilitate sandy areas, the grain for green program, whereby
farmland are being transformed into forests or grassland, and farmers who have lost their land,
being compensated by the central government; Chinas strategy for sustainable development
of forestry; its great achievements in forestry research and improved forestry education,
especially public education, creating awareness about the uses and value of forests; Reform in
the form of a legal system, to regulate forestry and ensure forestry development; and a legal
framework in conjunction with the Forestry Law and the Desertification Control Law, to
secure sustainable forestry development (Wenhua. 2004:519-525).
Chinese environmental policy: Successes and Challenges
Since 1998, the implementation of the Chinese environmental policy had a series of successes.
However, The state of environment in China is unsatisfactory, and despite some
achievements, the environmental policy has not achieved the expected results (Bao. 2006:13).
It must be mentioned that Chinas environmental policy, unlike those of advanced
industrialised countries, has been formulated and implemented from top to bottom, without
grassroots participation in its formation, as a result of Chinas centralised socialist political
system (Bao. 2006:2).

Successes include; the lowered rate of pollution emission to unit production in some sectors;
a drop in the total amount of primary pollutant emissions, such as SO2, smoke, industrial
powder, CO2 and industrial solid waste; the construction of new sewage treatment plants,
automatic monitoring stations for water quality testing and air; increases in the number of
nature reserves; increased vegetation cover through afforestation; the protection of wetlands;
restoring natural grassland vegetation; conversion of farmland into forest areas; reduction in
coal burning emissions; the advancement of science and technology to combat environmental
pollution, which included improved production technologies in some fields such as paper
making, printing and dyeing , processing of high density organic waste water, the treatment of
urban sewage, and incineration of harmful waste; improved urban environmental
consciousness, including environmental awareness and education; the establishment and
strengthening of environmental NGOs; Improved co-operation and communication with
international society; and the signing of International environmental conventions agreements,
such as the Kyoto Protocol (Bao. 2006:10-13).
The challenges or problems Chinas Environmental policy is facing, are: bureaucratic
fragmentation, in the sense that the various organisations, responsible for formulating,
implementing and supervising environmental policy, have overlapping functions, unclear
rights and responsibilities, and has therefore greatly interfered with policy implementation;
the fact that environmental protection is in conflict with economic growth, since the CCP in
its core work still focuses on the economic development of China and promotion for officials
at all levels, is mainly based on their ability to promote economic growth; the presence of
structural contradictions or defects within the system of law and its implementation of
environmental protection standards and practices, one being the fact that Chinas
environmental legal system has eleven sources, thus resulting in confusion and lower
efficiency of law implementation and local protection, exacerbated by the fact that judiciaries
cannot make independent judgements, since local governments pays their salaries and could
therefore influence their decisions; and lastly, the fact that peasants environmental
consciousness has not been turned into practice, therefore lacking in playing any role in
environmental decision-making and this weakness of environmental awareness amongst
Chinese peasants has seriously affected the implementation of the environmental protection
policy in China (Bao. 2006:13-17).
China has formulated some comprehensive environmental policies and some achievements
were made during the implementation, but China needs to overcome the structural issues
mentioned above if it wants to realise the unification of economic, social and environmental
benefits. Chinas environmental problems are not limited to scientific and technological
questions, but are integrated with Chinas social, economic and political development (Bao.
2006:17).

Economical and Environmental implications of the relationship between China and the
WTO
Predictions were made prior to Chinas accession into the World Trade Organisation (WTO),
that China would not only benefit economically, but that it would receive significant
environmental rewards. However, as it panned out, overall environmental benefits projected
did not materialise, in fact, some of the greatest economic advances in both the industrial and
agricultural sectors, due to Chinas WTO membership, are seriously exacerbating Chinas
most severe environmental problems and some of the worlds greatest ecological crises
(Jahiel. 2006:189,194).
Chinas ecological condition prior to accession into the WTO seems to have been in a better
state than now since joining the WTO. Gradual liberalisation of trade and investment policies
brought about a huge economic explosion, as well a broad improved impact on the
environment (Jahiel. 2006:191). Environmental improvements during this period included:
greater access to less-polluting technologies, pollution abatement equipment, and advanced
environmental management practices; Chinas

move away from energy-intensive dirty

industries towards labour-intensive light industries with less pollution; and heightened
international awareness and commitment to assist addressing Chinas environmental
problems, which contributed towards Chinas own efforts to develop an extensive
environmental protection apparatus, which included environmental laws, regulations and
policies. Chai (in Jahiel. 2006:192), however notes that despite these positive developments
the vastly increased scale of trade far exceeded the positive of cleaner production industries.
This period was further characterised by negative effects such as: vast exploitation of Chinas
natural resources, in pursuit of the export market; the over harvesting of China coastal
resources to meet international demands; and the transfer of pollution from dirty industries
and the waste trade (Jahiel. 2006:192).
With Chinas accession into the WTO, these environmental problems, despite positive
projections, grew worse. When China joined the WTO, it had to reduce its import tariffs and
all export subsidies, lower or eliminate import quotas, and open certain sectors of the
economy to foreign trade forcing structural changes to the economy (Jahiel. 2006:193).
Ecological benefits that were predicted by Chinese and International environmental officials,
included: the import of superior environmental protection equipment and less-polluting
industrial and agricultural technologies, due to lowered subsidies and tariffs; environmentallybeneficial structural adjustments to the Chinese industrial and agricultural economies, due to
heightened international competition; increased imports of consumer products and raw
materials, due to greater access to low-priced foreign goods, will lead to reductions in
domestic energy consumption, pollution emissions and impacts on natural resources; and the
strengthening of Chinas legal code, due to increased imports, to avoid an influx of pollutionintensive or environmentally-harmful products and demand the adoption of stricter domestic

environmental health and safety codes based on international standards (Jahiel. 2006:193194).
These predictions however did not materialise as expected. Economic growth due to WTO
accession, grew beyond expectations and it must be said that certain structural adjustments,
technological changes, and legal and cultural developments, did indeed benefit the
environment, but for the most part, these economical changes in fact only exacerbated Chinas
most severe environmental problems (Jahiel. 2006:194). Economically speaking, growth has
been explosive. Within 3 years of joining the WTO, Foreign Direct Investment grew almost
30 percent, foreign trade doubled, exceeding US $1 trillion, and China passed Japan as the
third largest importer (Jahiel. 2006:194).
The question however remains, what was the ecological and environmental impact of Chinas
accession into the WTO? Jahiel explored the industrial and agricultural sectors of China that
have prospered most under this trade regime since WTO accession and came to the conclusion
that it has caused significant harm to the Chinese environment (Jahiel. 2006:195). According
to Chai (in Jahiel. 2006:195), the scale or extent of overall economic growth is more critical
for the environment, than solely the shift in balance between various sectors. Even though
China moved away from the capital-intensive heavy industries towards less-polluting labourintensive industries, the fact remains that these labour-intensive industries growth was so
substantial, that the total emissions still rose, despite the fact that pollution intensity of
individual firms decreased (Jahiel. 2006:195-196). Thus the scale of light industry growth is
so large that its having an overall negative impact on the environment (Jahiel. 2006:196).
The most important industrial and agricultural sectors in China responsible for leaving a large
ecological footprint are: textiles; the automobile industry; and Fruit vegetables, horticultural
products and aquaculture (Jahiel. 2006:196-201). The factors that contribute so largely to
damaging the environment within these sectors, include: chemicals used in printing and
dyeing processes, heavy consumption of water in the manufacturing processes and the
generation of large volumes of difficult-to-treat waste water in the textile industry; destructive
manufacturing processes and car emissions as a result of consumption, in the fast growing
Chinese automobile industry; the increased use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers,
antibiotics and hormones, in some cases not only detrimental to the environment, but banned
internationally, the increase in genetically engineered food; and ineffective corrupt land use
practices, within the agricultural sector (Jahiel. 2006:196-201).
According to Jahiel (2006:203), The Chinese government faces a dilemma. It has followed
developmentalist policies, congruent with those of the WTO, which prioritise maximum
efficiency and economic growth and consequently have had an economic explosion. However,
the cost China is paying now includes; intensified socio-economic disparities, heightened selfserving actions by local political leaders and increased environmental harms, leading to a

10

surge of political discontent. China will have to make a strong commitment to pursue growth
in its own environmental interest and to prevent the transfer of environmental problems to the
rest of the world and the WTO will have to start incorporating the environment into their legal
framework and ensure the greening of their rules (Jahiel. 2006:205).
Conclusion
China is experiencing one of the most extraordinary economic growth rates in world history,
since the onset of its open door policy of economic reform and liberalisation. This explosive
growth over the last 2 decades has left a serious scar on the environment and the prospects of
sustainable development. In response to this growing dilemma, China has initiated several
environmental reforms, environmental protection initiatives and environmental policies, to
ensure sustained Chinese economic growth, while at the same time ensuring environmental
protection. The resettlement of a huge section of Chinese people below the inundation line of
the planned Yangtze river, Three Gorges Dam Project, brought about not only environmental
degradation on the resettled area, due to over capacity, but also had huge socio-economic
implications for relocatees who never had a say in the matter. Chinas forestry resources faced
a real dilemma, but in response to this dilemma the Chinese government, established a
strategy of forest development under the framework of the sustainable development to restore
degraded forest systems, which they have accomplished with great success through
conservation, afforestation, shelterbelts, conversion of farmland into forests, the establishment
of nature reserves, among some of the main strategies. Chinas environmental policy has,
despite some achievements, not achieved the expected results and needs to overcome the
structural issues that challenge its effectiveness if it wants to realise the unification of
economic, social and environmental benefits. The accession of China into the WTO did bring
about economic benefits for China as predicted, but at an environmental cost nobody foresaw
and China will have to make a commitment to pursue growth in its own environmental
interest, if it wants to sustain its economic growth. China is indeed at a crossroads and will
have to balance its economic growth with environmental protection, if it desires to leave a
China for future generations and an improved ecological environment for the rest of the
world. Due to its scale, Chinas environmental crisis not only affects China, but the rest of the
world, so its in the whole worlds benefit for China to act now. China is acting, but is it
enough to stop the freight train of disaster?

11

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