New Book Tackles China and its Environmental Exports

The rapid degradation of the environment in China has become a central topic of discussion this year. 

Air pollution in Beijing and other parts of northern China hit record levels in January. Water pollution was thrust into the spotlight this week when official news reports said that nearly 6,000 dead pigs had been found floating in a river that slices through the heart of Shanghai. Meanwhile, environmental advocates are pressing the government to release data on soil pollution, which officials have categorized as a state secret.

It is no wonder, then, that delegates to the National People’s Congress, which is holding its annual meeting now in Beijing, are debating environmental issues, even if the congress is largely a rubber-stamp legislature charged with giving Communist Party policy a veneer of popular legitimacy.

Just as worrisome, if not as hotly discussed among Chinese, is the impact that China is having on the environment in other parts of the world. It is not an easy thing to gauge, but Craig Simons, a former Asia correspondent for Cox Newspapers, set out to do exactly that. He documented his findings in his first book, “The Devouring Dragon: How China’s Rise Threatens Our Natural World,” which was published March 12 by St. Martin’s Press. Mr. Simons spoke recently about his reasons for embarking on this project, how Chinese officials assess climate change and what the United States can do to mitigate China’s environmental effects. These are excerpts from that conversation.

Read full text at The New York Times