China Wakes Up to Its Environmental Catastrophe

Cleaning up the environment is an urgent task for China’s leaders, who face a backlash from enraged citizens
Illustration by 731; Li: Carsten Koall/Getty Images; Xi: Sergei Karpuki

At its worst, the “airpocalypse” that settled over Beijing and northern China in late February had a fine particulate matter reading 16 times the recommended upper limit, turning Beijing into a veritable smoking lounge. Satellite images, a click away on the Internet, showed a massive toxic haze. Farther south, cadmium-tainted rice has been a staple of Guangzhou’s food supply since at least 2009. The dead pigs that floated down Shanghai’s Huangpu River last year were grotesque enough to haunt citizens even in their sleep.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.