The Chinese government has forced the World Bank to censor a study into the human cost of pollution in China. Earlier drafts of the report, Cost of Pollution in China: Economic Estimates of Physical Damage had estimated than 750,000 people died of pollution related illnesses annually. However, this figure was removed following pressure from Chinese authorities.
China has one of the worst pollution records globally. The World Bank has also reported that 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China. Beijing, in particular, is often covered with an acrid polluting smog.
The Olympics, held next year in Beijing, have galvanised the Chinese government to some action. There are worries that athletes could be adversely affected by the air pollution, and there will be increased international scrutiny because of hosting the games. China has pledged to renovate 16,000 coal burning factories and to remove 1 million cars from the streets of Beijing.
But these initiatives are driven by concerns over international perceptions of China and the smooth running of an event designed to showcase china as an affluent and modern country. China’s environmental policy is indicative of the callousness with which China treats its citizens.