News / Asia

China’s Other Pollution Problem: Water

Turbid Debate over China’s Wateri
X
January 23, 2013 4:49 PM
William Ide takes a look recent changes in Beijing's approach to an often neglected environmental concern: water pollution.

In Beijing, the long avoided public debate over water quality and quantity is coming to a head.

William Ide
Video Transcription:
BEIJING — When chemicals recently contaminated a river in China’s northern Shanxi province, it took authorities five days to report the incident. While the mayor offered an apology and chemical plant officials were dismissed, the spill ended up affecting drinking water in several cities downstream.
 
It also dealt another blow to public confidence in the government.
 
Official statistics indicate China has around 1,700 water pollution accidents each year, and up to 40 percent of the country’s rivers are seriously polluted.
 
Not only are natural water sources polluted, but they are becoming scarce as well.
 
Beijing is one place where the debate over water quality and quantity is coming to a head.
 
“Of the more than 100 rivers that there are now in Beijing, only two or three can be used for tap water – and those are the ones that the government in Beijing is protecting," says Zhao Feihong, a water researcher at the Beijing Healthcare Association. "Those are the ones that we can use water from, the rest of the rivers if they have not dried up, then they are polluted by discharge.”
 
Zhao and her husband, who is also a water researcher, recently became the focus of state-media online outlets after confessing they have not let Beijing’s tap water touch their lips in 20 years.
 
Their story drew attention just as Beijing’s city government began releasing water quality statistics – long treated as a state secret – for the first time.
 
According to Zhao, the move is a step in the right direction.
 
“The fact that it can be disclosed is an improvement for the common people who will better understand the water that they drink," she says. "So this is a relatively good thing, but I think that publicizing this figure is not enough.”
 
Instead of periodically releasing statistics, Zhao says, the government should let the public know immediately what to do if something affects the drinking water.
 
Hao Yungang became a part of Beijing’s water debate after publishing photos of gunk gathering in his faucet on China’s Twitter-like Weibo micro-blogging service.
 
“I did not anticipate that the level of interest would be so high," says Hao. "But these days, people have higher and higher expectations about the quality of life, whether it is water, food safety, pollution or even traffic.”
 
Like many in Beijing, Hao says he uses tap water to wash dishes and filtered water to cook.
 
While he believes officials who say Beijing’s water is safe at its source, he knows that what happens between the treatment plant and his home is another matter.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Stephen Real from: Colmbia USA
January 24, 2013 4:02 AM
The Chinese Communist Party should not wonder why their dynastic rule by party members are in question. Look what they do to the people all for greed and profit. What a shame.


by: Dan from: China
January 24, 2013 1:23 AM
". . . up to 40 percent of the country’s rivers are seriously polluted."

This kind of meaningless statistic isn't good journalism. Essentially all the country's major rivers servicing major populations are seriously polluted.


by: Charlie from: China
January 23, 2013 8:19 PM
What an evil government! Not to mention your bad governance, that you have hided the data for so long in defiance of your own people's health is intolerant

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid