There are literally tens of thousands of “mass incidents” each year in China, such as demonstrations and strikes. Such incidents regularly involve thousands of angry civilians and hundreds of armed police. According to China’s Ministry of Public Security, there were 87,000 such incidents in 2005, up from 74,000 in 2004.
Indeed, it’s the facts and figures associated with China’s colossal boom that are most disturbing.
Never has there been such a grand industrial experiment, and never has the planet and its inhabitants seen such devastating consequences.
According to the World Bank, China is now the world’s most polluted nation, laying claim to 16 of the 20 most despoiled cities on Earth.
The New York Times has reported that only 1 percent of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air deemed safe by the European Union, and 500 million Chinese lack access to safe drinking water. Not surprisingly, China’s Ministry of Health now lists cancer as the number one cause of death.
But China’s pollution is something that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. Even in the countryside, air quality can be abysmal (with trees just 50 yards away out of focus), and in cities it can be downright frightening. British writer, Simon Winchester, recently described the toxic pall that habitually loiters over Chongqing (China’s third largest city) as “so dreadful as to be barely credible.”
There are industrial towns in China where it’s rare to see the sun.
Economists might wow about the Communist leviathan’s command economy, but the statistics it produces come at a terrible – perhaps irreversible – cost.
A basic requirement for China’s moving toward anything approaching a superpower would be its evolution from world’s-factory floor to a more-brains-less-brawn economy, but that appears untenable. China’s advancement is hindered by its poorly educated citizenry, and central planning or not, the Chinese government fears the consequences of genuinely educating its people.