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Economic: Environment Quality in China and Policy Essay Sample

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Economic: Environment Quality in China and Policy Essay Sample


            China has steadily converted into a market economy during last two decades. Its growth pace has made China one of the fastest growing economies. Continued growth process is reducing poverty level of china by increasing their income. This rapid economic growth of China is stressing its resources and ecology, by increasing environmental pollution caused by industries and modernization in the country. (Walton, 1900)

This environmental change is damaging air and water quality, agriculture productivity, human health and ultimately the overall economy. Because of these environmental disasters, the government of China is encouraging harmony within local society and between human beings and nature. It has become one of the top national priorities of China.

China has started to establish and operate comprehensive laws and regulations to control environmental damage to its ecological environment such as soil erosion, quality of water resources and its pollution, desertification, air pollution and other major problems. As a result, State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) was established in 1998. Its role was to disseminate the rule and regulation of national environmental policy of China. (Gilpin, 2000)

The main functions of SEPA were collection of data and providing technological advices on environmental issues based on national and international scenarios. SEPA is developing a system for the evaluation of environmental performance related to governmental departments and other sectors.

The indicators set for the environmental enforcement objectives may be categorized according to their subject and targets of evaluation. For instance, those who are associated with perfect implementation of environmental policies, laws, and regulation of government are actually evaluating total environmental quality of China. On the other hand, those indicators who are evaluating different enterprises are actually emphasizing on environmental inputs such are emissions, rate and capacity of environmental impurities, compliance etc. (Economy, 1999)

Regardless of the efforts put by the government of China, most of the pollutants remained high. China still lacking with forest-covered area even it is having extending total forest area on around thirty percent. The yearly desertification rate is degrading grassland area with relatively high pace. On the other hand, erosion is also increasing in numerous places by which China is loosing soil and arable land frequently causing economic loss.

The rate of utilizing water resources has been increased even over the warning line accepted internationally. Consequently, the process of water purification naturally is un-accomplishing and damaging ecological environment by the rivers. Another challenge to ecological environment of china is the decrease in home species and biodiversity. Officials associated with ecological environmental issues blame rapid growth process of the economy of China for the current situation. (Bertram, 1937)

The traditional way of using resources in an unbalanced economic structure pays little attention to protect resources and change the way of using them. The idea to attain rapid economic growth by paying cost to sacrifice ecological environment still dominates in different regions and creating great threat to ecological environment.

For environmental requirements, China must take certain actions, evaluates different aspects like technologies, resources, information and other points. These actions must fulfill all the requirements regarding a standard and comprehensive environmental protection policy in accordance with the international environmental laws, rules and regulations and their standards. The operators of these plans may be government agencies and different administrative departments and may be public or private enterprises. They must fulfill the environmental requirements defined in environmental laws or policies. (Gilpin, 2000)

Despite efforts from Chinese government and SEPA, involvements of several pollutants in ecological environment remain high. China acted out the Cleaner Production Promotion Law In June 2002, by establishing presentment programs to redress pollution in ten major cities of China, and gave priorities to several river valleys. They are taking stand for the implementation of policies, laws, and regulations for the compliance and enforcement of environmental protection.

Currently we do not have many indicators available that can give a picture of environmental compliance and enforcement in China. Chinese government and other social agencies have been made few attempts to introduce such policies for the achievement of environmental control targets. The government of China is making strengthened environmental management an important consideration for their overall performance evaluation.

Water Resources & Pollution

As a precious commodity, water has high demand in improving living standards, population growth, and economic development. China needs to control the shortage of water and minimize the pollution in water is to continue its social and economic development. Water is an essential component for the survival of every organism. It is a renewable resource because water circulates from land to sea and then to sky to fall back.

It uses in circulation of material and transformation of energy. The rate of consumption and redistribution of water has increased than other non-renewable resources. Water is a vital element in agricultural and industrial sectors. In processing steel, activities in garment & textile units, generating thermal power water is a core component. China uses heavy amount of water in its agricultural activities.

The level of water must be maintained at a certain level to protect environment and eco-system. Water shortage is becoming more frequent in different regions allover the world. One of the big reasons of shortage is the pollution in water. The rapid growth in industrial sector of China is adding countless amounts of impurities into the water. It causes shortage of pure water and affecting productivity of the agricultural sector and eventually making negative impact on economy. (Economy, 1999)

Humans are being affected by the hazardous and toxins pollutants that are found in the water and cause water pollution in the country. In the result, hospitalization and sometimes, even death has been lead by these causes and water pollutants. Environmental condition of the China is also being affected by this water pollution.

Cases of water contamination, wetlands, and deterioration of the wildlife habitat are some of the examples of water pollution. In addition, overall ecosystem and plants environment is also being affected by the water pollution in the country, which is affecting the stability of the Chinese economy directly, as well as, indirectly. (Moss, 1967)

Quality level of the water must be maintained by the China, which should be measured by an acceptable level. The society should not be harmed by this quality of the water, and the health of the people should be protected by this maintenance of the government. The supply of usable water will be increased, the environment will improve, and the water pollution will be reduced by the implementation of wastewater treatment plants for the alleviation of water shortage in the China.

In many Chinese cities, unprocessed water is used for the agricultural activities, as well as, for the drinking purposes by the Chinese farmers. Domestic, as well as, industrial wastes are contained in this water, and by which waterborne diseases are increased and contributed by this careless use of the water. In the China, typhoid, cholera, and dysentery are some of the examples of waterborne diseases that have been occurred at relatively higher rate in the country. Since this polluted waster is also being used by the agricultural sector, contaminated chemicals and other wastes element are damaging the productive of Chinese land and eventually hurting food productivity and affective economic growth of China overall.

Air pollution

According to the report of the World Health Organization (WHO) released in 1998, China has seven out of ten most polluted cities of the world. The combustion of coal spread two major air pollutants soot and Sulfur dioxide. It causes acid rain, China has around thirty percent of its land area fallen acid rain. Furnace consumption and boilers in industries are the largest sources of air pollution of China.

Seven days a week, and day night shifts are worked by the people of China, as the China is still a developing country, and a rapid growth in the economy is necessary for the survival in midst of high competition among the different nations of the world.

The industrial region of the China is having no weekend effect in its sector due to an urgent need of rapid economic growth in the country. In the result, the satellites detect higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide continuously in the air of the China. In 1960s, the air pollution was similar to the Western European region’s pollution, and which is the same presently in the country. The picture of rapid industrialization process has been clearly shown by the increment of almost ten percent in the gross national product of the country. (OECD, 2006)

Substantial regions of China have already converted into highly polluted areas; this situation may be riskier in future. China is the second largest consumer of energy, regardless of relatively low industrial energy use per year. The population size became the reason for China to be the second largest energy consumer. So the emission rate of sulfur dioxide in China is the highest in the world, because of the combustion of fossil fuels.

The rapid growth in the number of automobiles in China is causing emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide and damaging of ozone. It is difficult to evaluate the negative impact of agricultural and industrial emissions to the natural environment of China. Climate is warming of different region of China due to the heavy discharges of carbon dioxide and methane from fossil fuels combustion and coal mining and farming.

However, heavy discharge of other chemicals pollutants like sulfur dioxide and particle formation through accompanying sulfate is leading climate towards cooling. If emissions of sulfur dioxide and sulfate have to be decreased to avoid negative impacts and health effects in the region the climate of China will probably go warmer.

On the other hand, the reduction in carbon dioxide and methane emissions will have opposite effect on the climate so it is the situation of dilemma for China. Therefore, China may have double environmental effects in future related to extreme heat or cool. This is due to greater reflectivity of sunlight back to space, which also leads to higher cloud albedo by increasing the number and concentration of cloud droplets, which condense on the sulphate aerosol particles.

In future, the consumption of energy and emissions of pollutants has several influential factors like economic development, the growing rate of population, structural change in industries, and progress in technology. These factors are creating an environmental mix for a developing industrial country of China.

The rapid growth in population and economic development with the increase in living standard will undoubtedly increase the industrial and agricultural activities. Therefore, it will create a huge environmental threat to China. The technological improvement may reduce the wastage amount of dangerous pollutants and cut down the energy consumption intensity.

One of the big examples for that is the government of China tool serious initiatives to reduce the usage of coal overall. To put some efforts in this regard they encourage the use of cleaner burning fuels instead of coal. The government of China even imposed tax on high-sulfur coals to restrict its frequent use.

Government official also established forty coal free zones in Beijing to terminate coal from the city gradually. The government of China is constructing national gas pipelines to encourage its common use. Chinese government is also taking such steps for other major cities affecting by environmental crisis. The system used in United States of emissions trading for sulfur dioxide, was tested in several cities and may be employed across the nation eventually.

To reduce pollution in the year, in 1999 the local government of Beijing ordered to convert city vehicles to liquefied petroleum or natural gas. Beijing achieved the largest network of natural gas buses of the world by 2002. In the city of Beijing, government has also expended Subway and light rail systems. The national legislature of China has enabled to reduce air pollution to some extent through clean production system and other considerable attempts.

It has adapted Law on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution significantly; the law was revised in 2002. Even though, in 2003 SEPA has issued a report regarding their doubts on the overall success of such program to control pollution in the air. The application of such policies and efforts are necessary to improve air quality and overall climate of the country. China has to focus on environmental issues caused by its rapid industrial growth. It has to increase efforts regarding environmental research and development by collaborating with related international agencies.

Water Crisis

            Water crisis has been one of the major causes that have influence and affect the economy of the China drastically. According to the experts, the People’s Republic of China has confronted threats by its water crisis with relation to its economic stability and prosperity in the region. According to the World Bank, a share of 2700 cubic meters per annum has been forecasted per-capita share in the Mainland China, which has taken it to the one-fourth of the average globally.

            By 2030, population of 1.6 billion has been forecasted and warned by the Chinese experts. In the result, 1760 cubic meters of the water resources will be remained in the country. In this regard, the benchmark for the water shortages has been recognized internationally as 1700 cubic meters per-capita share. Water deficits are being faced by half of China’s 617 cities. The most threat is being confronted by the Beijing, which is one of the hubs of economy of the China. (Zhang, 2001)

            About 36.5 percent of total territory of the country has been occupied by the China’s longest river, Yangtze River. In the result, 80.9 percent of the total resources of the water have been taken by areas south to the river. However, only nineteen percent of total resources of the water have been possessed by 63.5 percent area of the China that is north to the Yangtze River. In the result, a significant impact has been observed in the economy of the China due to the crisis of water in the country.

            In some areas, the quality of water has also been deteriorated due to the water pollution according to the Chinese experts, and leading environmental activists of the China. More than ninety percent of the Chinese cities are facing water pollution in their localities. In the result, the government has to plan and implement more budgets for the reduction and elimination of the water pollution in the country.

            Over the years, it has been indicated by the experts that as the economy is depended on the agricultural sector of the country at a higher extent, the water crisis is becoming a major threat for the economic growth and stability in the region. In this regard, billions of dollars is being invested by the government of China for different and various environmental projects for the purification process and proper distribution of the drinking water throughout the country.

            The World Bank has forecasted that China would have to confront millions of environmental refugees by 2020 due to the increasing stress and shortage of the water. In the result, a drastic effect will be confronted by the government and China will have to take various steps for the stability of its economy in the region. (OECD, 2006)

            A severe challenge is being met by the China, as only seven percent of water resources of the world have been occupied by the China. However, about twenty percent of population of the world has been possessed by the China. In this regard, it has been warned that the economy of the China is very much depended on the distribution and availability of the water resources, which have been scarce in the region.

            It has also been indicated by the experts and various environment-related studies that about 160 million people are being affected by the water shortages in the 660 cities of the China. This 160 million of people comprises of people associated with different working and employment sectors, such as agricultural, industrial, and educational sector. In the result, these people are facing difficulties in accomplishing their jobs due to the water scarcity and environmental issues in the country.

Environmental Law

            The national leadership of the China is planning, implementing, and trying its best to promote and strengthen its economy in the midst of environmental disasters, scarcity of water resources, and different other environmental issues in the country that are affecting the economy of the China.

            Solutions are being planned and found by different environment and economy-related agencies and organizations with the collaboration of the government. In the month of November 2006, Chinese lawyers, judges, and environmental activists attended the Sixth Annual Environmental Law and Practice Training Conference in the city of Beijing in China, which was co-sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

            It was indicated by the government officials of the China during the abovementioned conference that burning coal was the major resource for the seventy percent energy of the China. In the year 2020, 3.6 billion tons of coal per year would be required by the China for the continued stability of the country. China possesses world’s seven most polluted cities, and therefore, it is confronting a major environmental challenge with relation to its economy in the region. (Gilpin, 2000)

            It was also warned by the government officials that severe environmental pollution is affecting and resulting in the unrest of the public. In the past six years, twenty-five percent of increment has been observed in the activities that meant economic instability in the country. In the year 2005, cases of unrest came out to be fifty thousand that were concerned with the environmental problems in the country. In this regard, the economy of the country is being affected drastically by the subject of environment quality of the China.

      During 1950s, ‘Three Rivers, Three Lakes’ was the first considerable policy made by the Chinese government for the solutions of few water related problems such as river channel and water supply problems. Flood control and construction of the hydropower electricity were also included in the policy. During the next two decades, the era of Cultural Revolution in China disallowed the implications of any real programs for environmental protection.

However, by mid 1970s environmental protection concerns turned up again, and in the year 1975, new environmental laws were made by the state council for the protection of the nature and combat pollution in China for the elimination of any doubts regarding the instability of the economy of the China. During 1980s, the process went further and genuine steps were taken for the coordination of environmental policies among national, provincial, as well as, the local organizations. (Zhang, 2001)

            In recent years, environmental deterioration has been stemmed by some progress that has been made by the strengthening of environmental legislation by the People’s Republic of China. In the year 1999, more than one percent of the GDP was invested in the projects of environmental protection by the Chinese government. In coming years, likely increase in these environmental projects has been forecasted and deemed as necessary for the stability and prosperity of the Chinese economy.

In the 90s, a significant increase has been observed regarding the environmental protection funding in China as mentioned above. For the treatment of wastewater and solid waste, China increased its expenditure budget from four and a half billion Yuan to almost ten billion Yuan from 1990 to 1995. (Itoh, 1997)” From the year 2001 until 2005, the state appropriated 360 billion Yuan (US$ 45 billion) primarily for pollution control and prevention, excluding investment on ecological construction, which accounted for less than one percent of the GDP during that period”.

“Still, this is nearly twice as much as the total expenditures for environmental control programs in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Five-Year Plans (1986-2000) combined. Under the current Five-Year Plan (2006-10), investment on environmental protection could reach $700 billion Yuan (US$ 88 billion)” (Li, 2006). This much attention of China to environmental protection brought two positive things in the region one is public awareness to environmental issues and second is the development of an official channel for environmental protection funding. (Bradbrook, 2005)


Nevertheless, the government of China has shown its commitments toward the formation and implementation of such environmental protection programs, but because of this rapid economic growth since early 90s the attention towards environmental matters has been loosen by the government. It appears that economic reform and its resulting rapid growth are actually opposing the Chinese efforts for environmental problems. Economic reform started the decentralization process in China. Therefore, it became more difficult for national institutions to control over the environmental issues caused by rapid industrialization.

It has been noted and discussed in the paper that China has steadily converted into a market economy during last two decades. It growth pace has made China one of the fastest growing economies. Continues growth process is reducing poverty level of china by increase their income.

This rapid economic growth of China is stressing its resources and ecology, by increasing environmental pollution caused by industries and modernization in the country. This environmental change is damaging air and water quality, agriculture productivity, human health and ultimately the overall economy. We hope that our study will help experts and future studies related with the environment and its impact on the economy of the People’s Republic of the China. (Lardy, 1994)


            Adrian John Bradbrook. (2005). the Law of Energy for Sustainable Development. Cambridge University Press.

            Alan Gilpin. (2000). Dictionary of Environmental Law. Edward Elgar Publishing.

            Elizabeth Economy. (1999). China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects. Council on Foreign Relations.

            Frank E. Moss. (1967). the Water Crisis. F. A. Praeger. University of Michigan Press.

            Fumio Itoh. (1997). China in the Twenty-First Century. United Nations University Press.

            James M. Bertram. (1937). Crisis in China. Macmillan.

            Joseph Walton. (1900). China and the Present Crisis. S. Low, Marston & Company.

            Kevin H. Zhang. (2001). Financial Markets and Foreign Direct Investment in Greater China. M.E. Sharpe.

            Nicholas R. Lardy. (1994). China in the World Economy. Peterson Institute.

            Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2006). China in the Global Economy Environment, Water Resources, and Agricultural Policies. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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