01/16/2007, 00.00
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For the Chinese, pollution and the environment top list of problems

Water, air, contaminated food are “a serious threat” for 80 per cent of the population. There is trust in government but also concern. Few are those willing to file complaints against polluters. AsiaNews begins a series of reports on the issue.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Environmental issues have become the public’s main worry, a study shows. The China Environmental Culture Promotion Association, an agency overseen by the State Environment Protection Administration, yesterday released the results of nationwide survey on the environment that supports that view.

The report shows that more than 40 per cent of those surveyed identified the environment as the issue of greatest concern, particularly in relation to food safety. More than 80 per cent thought food contamination was an imminent environmental threat, and there was a similar level of concern about the dangers of water and air pollution.

Destruction of the environment is the result of unrestrained industrial development over the past 20 years. This has created a situation, according to official data, in which more than 320 million farmers do not have access to clean water and 190 million drink contaminated water.

Stinking polluted water is often used in irrigation, especially when drought limits other water sources.

Food grown on farms relying on polluted water ends up on the nation’s tables because it cannot be distinguished from the rest.

A lot of fish also comes from polluted areas.

However, the survey shows that the hole in the ozone layer and global warming are low on the public's list of concerns.

For Yu Jianwei, one of the researchers on the project, the study shows that when people are more informed about the environment, their satisfaction with present conditions drops, and their participation in conservation activities increase.

The survey indicates that people also tend to worry more about threats in their immediate surroundings, such as household pollutants and garbage in residential compounds, than wider public dangers.

“Our study strongly suggests the government should work harder to increase environmental awareness,” he said.

The study also noted that whilst more than 60 per cent of respondents thought Beijing was treating environmental issues seriously, only 16 per cent said they would be prepared to complain if necessary.


Beginning tomorrow AsiaNews will publish a series of reports on China’s pollution crisis.

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