750,000 a year killed by Chinese pollution

Richard McGregor – The Financial Times

Copyright The Financial Times
Beijing
July 2 2007
Beijing engineered the removal of nearly a third of a World Bank report on pollution in China because of concerns that findings on premature deaths could provoke “social unrest”.
The report, produced in co-operation with Chinese government ministries over several years, found about 750,000 people die prematurely in China each year, mainly from air pollution in large cities.
China’s State Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and health ministry asked the World Bank to cut the calculations of premature deaths from the report when a draft was finished last year, according to Bank advisers and Chinese officials.
Advisers to the research team said ministries told them this information, including a detailed map showing which parts of the country suffered the most deaths, was too sensitive.
“The World Bank was told that it could not publish this information. It was too sensitive and could cause social unrest,” one adviser to the study told the Financial Times…
Sixteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China, according to previous World Bank research.
Guo Xiaomin, a retired Sepa official who co-ordinated the Chinese research team, said some material was omitted from the pollution report because of concerns that the methodology was unreliable. But he also said such information on premature deaths “could cause misunderstanding”.
“We did not announce these figures. We did not want to make this report too thick,” he said in an interview.
The pared-down report, “Cost of Pollution in China”, has yet to be officially launched but a version, which can be downloaded from the internet was released at a conference in Beijing in March.
For the complete article, please see ft.com

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