Summary of China’s Next Environmental Challenge Is Hard to See

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Explaining the need for ridding the air of thick smog or removing visible pollutants from rivers and streams is easy. Making the case for restricting chemicals whose harmful effects are long-term and more diffuse is much harder. According to journalists Ma Tianjie and Feng Hao, China must address the environmental impact of “hidden pollutants.” Their fascinating look at China’s “regulatory blind spots” addresses themes in environmental protection that remain relevant also in the developed world.

About the Authors

Ma Tianjie is managing editor and Feng Hao a researcher at the NGO China Dialogue. 



China has made strides in reducing pollutants whose harmful effects are immediate and visible to the eye. For example, the Chinese government managed to reduce air pollution in Beijing, as measured in atmospheric particulate matter, by 35% within only four years. Since the passing of the 2015 Environmental Protection Law, the Chinese government has also been cracking down on highly polluting factories more decisively than in the past. However, China’s environmental regulation record is poor when it comes to chemicals whose harmful effects on humans and the environment are more complex and long-term. Greenpeace estimates that half of the 45,000 chemicals currently in use in China...

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