I just returned from my fourth trip to China in the last year, and while the reports about the condition of the environment are true, that is only half of the truth. It is true the lakes and rivers have been severally damaged by the environmental impact of urbanization and industrialization over the past 15 years. It is also true that the air in the major metropolitan areas is contaminated. However, that is only half of the truth. The truth is that China is making great strides, and investing more in environmental infrastructure than any nation outside the US. They have a plan and are executing on that plan. They have authorized the construction of 1,000’s of water and sewage treatment plants, they are transitioning from coal to nuclear power more rapidly than the US, and have budgeted billions of dollars for environmental remediation.
The truth is the Chinese people are very proud of their nation, and ingrained in their culture is the belief that their nation is made up of their people and their land. In other words as they see the quality of their environment degraded they see their nation being degraded. The challenge for the government leaders is giving 2,000,000,000 people the opportunity to work, raise a family, and develop hope for their children while also developing the infrastructure to protect the environment. Given how far they have come over the past 15 years I would give them an “A”.