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Showing posts for "Environment"

Domestic Health Challenges and Global Health Governance: The Cases of China and India

by Yanzhong Huang
China's President Hu Jintao shakes hands with Indian's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. China's President Hu Jintao shakes hands with Indian's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (B Mathur/Courtesy Reuters).

It’s been a busy week for global health. With the Indian Supreme Court’s landmark decision to dismiss Novartis AG’s attempt to patent its cancer drug Glivec, the doors for low-cost generic drugs will remain open. At the same time in China, as it’s been covered by me and my colleague Laurie Garrett,  the rise  of  a deadly new bird flu strain has already infected nine people, three of whom have died, in Southeast China. Both developments have tremendous implications for global governance for health. Read more »

The Rise of a Deadly New Strain of Bird Flu: Has China Handled This Properly So Far?

by Yanzhong Huang
Health workers pack dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong December 21, 2011. Health workers pack dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong December 21, 2011 (Siu Chiu/Courtesy Reuters).

China has long been perceived as the epicenter of major infectious disease outbreaks. The 2003 SARS crisis was the most recent and notable example. However, over the past months, China has been caught up in a series of public health-related crises, including air pollution in Beijing and dead pigs in Shanghai. So when reports came out over the weekend that a new lethal strain of bird flu, H7N9, was identified in China, it should not be a surprise to anyone. Read more »

Dead Pigs in Shanghai: Failing Food Safety Regulations

by Yanzhong Huang
A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, thousands of dead pigs were discovered floating in the Huangpu River, which supplies drinking water to Shanghai’s 23 million residents. As of Tuesday evening, sanitation workers have retrieved nearly 6,000 carcasses from the river. The municipal authorities insist that the city’s water supply has not been contaminated, but they did admit that the dead pigs have tested positive for the PCV virus (which causes a sometimes fatal pig disease) as well as other pathogens, including foot and mouth disease (FMD), swine fever, hog cholera, and blue-ear pig disease. Initial investigations have also identified Jiaxing, a city in the neighboring Zhejiang province, as the origin of the dead pigs. Read more »

Poison Air, Dead Pigs, and Cancer Rice: The Reform China Really Needs

by Elizabeth C. Economy
Cleaning workers retrieve the carcasses of pigs from a branch of Huangpu River in Shanghai on March 10, 2013. Cleaning workers retrieve the carcasses of pigs from a branch of Huangpu River in Shanghai on March 10, 2013. (Stringer China/Courtesy Reuters)

The bad news doesn’t stop coming. First, Beijing residents learned that breathing their air on a daily basis was akin to living in a smoking lounge. Then Guangdong residents learned that Hunan rice sold in their province in 2009 was contaminated with cadmium, which is carcinogenic and can cause severe pain in joints and the spine. And just this past weekend, Shanghai residents watched more than three thousand diseased pigs float down part of the city’s Huangpu River. Read more »

Choking to Death: Health Consequences of Air Pollution in China

by Yanzhong Huang
Chinese commuters make their way in heavy smog in Beijing Chinese commuters make their way in heavy smog in Beijing (Reinhard Krause/Courtesy Reuters).

In the past few months, I wrote about the food the Chinese eat, and, more recently, Liz Economy wrote about the water the Chinese drink. But the air that the Chinese breathe is now a major concern. As the nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress (NPC) arrive in Beijing to attend the yearly event to formally endorse nominees for key government leadership posts and important national policies, it would be hard for them to ignore the poor air quality in the country’s capital. Last Thursday morning, readings near Tiananmen Square measured the concentration of PM2.5—fine particles in the air that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and are considered dangerous because they tend to penetrate the gas exchange regions of the lungs—at 469 micrograms per cubic meter, which corresponds to a U.S. EPA Air Quality Index reading of 479 (the scale stops at 500). Anything above 301 is considered “hazardous” in that it can cause “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly,” and there is a “serious risk of respiratory effects in general population.” The PM2.5 levels in other famously polluted cities pale in comparison to those in Beijing; for instance, the highest PM2.5 level in a 24-period recorded in Los Angeles was 43 micrograms per cubic meter. Read more »

China: Dirty Air, Dirtier Water?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A dead fish is seen floating in a polluted river on the outskirts of Yingtan, Jiangxi province, on March 20, 2010. A dead fish is seen floating in a polluted river on the outskirts of Yingtan, Jiangxi province, on March 20, 2010. (Stringer / Courtesy Reuters)

In recent weeks, the Chinese and western media have been all atwitter over the shocking levels of air pollution in Beijing and a number of other Chinese cities. But it really shouldn’t be all that shocking. After all, in 2007, the World Bank and China’s own State Environmental Protection Administration (now the Ministry of Environmental Protection) found that that as many as 700,000 people die prematurely annually from respiratory disease related to air pollution. And more recently, Greenpeace Beijing reported that in 2011 in four major cities, more than 8,000 people died prematurely as a result of just one pollutant, PM 2.5. Anyone who spends any time in Beijing knows that the city has not yet found a way to tackle the myriad sources of air pollution from construction to cars to coal. Read more »

Assessing the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Sustainability of South Korea’s Contribution

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korea's president Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul. (Courtesy Reuters) South Korea's president Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech at an inaugural meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul. (Courtesy Reuters)

When South Korean president Lee Myung Bak first offered to serve as a bridge between developing and industrialized countries on climate change issues in a speech August of 2008, it seemed implausible that South Korea, as a smaller country in the global climate change discussion, could have an influence on either group. In fact, the speech ultimately seemed more targeted at a domestic rather than an international audience, since it spawned the establishment of a Blue House-led Green Growth Committee tasked to reform national energy policy across all sectors (including the National Asssembly’s adoption of an emissions trading scheme) and to promote policies of adaptation through enhanced energy efficiency and promotion of Korean development of renewables. Read more »

“Winner Take All”—A China Story?

by Elizabeth C. Economy
A Chinese contractor walks at the site of the Nairobi-Thika highway project, under construction near Kenya's capital Nairobi, on September 23, 2011. A Chinese contractor walks at the site of the Nairobi-Thika highway project, under construction near Kenya's capital Nairobi, on September 23, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya / Courtesy Reuters)

It was with a mix of trepidation and anticipation that I read Dambisa Moyo’s newly-released book, Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What it Means for the World: trepidation because my colleague Michael Levi and I are currently finishing a book on China’s resource quest; and anticipation because it is actually fun to read a book on a topic on which you are writing … as long, of course, as it doesn’t say exactly what you planned to say. Read more »

China Tries to Breathe Free

by Elizabeth C. Economy
The National Stadium, also known as the 'Bird's Nest', can be seen next to a tower bearing the Olympic rings and a building under construction on a high air pollution day in Beijing on June 6, 2012. The National Stadium, also known as the 'Bird's Nest', can be seen next to a tower bearing the Olympic rings and a building under construction on a high air pollution day in Beijing on June 6, 2012. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters)

After one day in Beijing, I had a sore throat. After two days, I had a cough. In nine days, the sun never made an appearance. So, when I returned to New York from Beijing earlier this week, I wasn’t surprised to learn from a friend who tracks China’s air quality that the pollution in the country’s capital during my stay had been among the worst since 2007.

There really isn’t any mystery as to why Beijing’s air pollution is so bad. Read more »

An Emissions Trading Scheme for South Korea: Momentum for Rio+20?

by Scott A. Snyder
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the opening of the High Level Segment at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban (Rogan Ward/courtesy Reuters) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the opening of the High Level Segment at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban (Rogan Ward/courtesy Reuters)

Lee Myung-bak departs Seoul for the G-20 in Los Cabos and the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development with an unanticipated political feather in his camp in the form of ratified national legislation establishing an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that is scheduled to take effect in 2015. But, as Jill O’Donnell describes in her latest ROK Green Growth Quarterly analysis, the legislation passed as part of a lame duck session of the eighteenth ROK National Assembly prior to its departure from office in early May has received relatively little public attention in South Korea. Read more »