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If you look at pictures of China today, you will notice a heavy fog around the busiest cities, like Harbin, Beijing, and Jilin. However, this is not fog, the thick gray matter is actually smog, and the air quality is getting worse. One recent example of China’s troubling smog is the case of an 8-year-old girl from Jiangsu province who became the youngest lung cancer patient in China. The People’s Daily reported the girl lived near a busy road and was susceptible to PM2.5 pollution. This level of pollution contains fine particulate matter that is very dangerous to humans because the matter can lodge deep in the lungs and then enter the blood stream. However the heavy smog is mainly in the northern reaches of China and around the large, major cities such as Beijing.
Many cities in the North face heavy smog as central heating systems are turned on and as the coal-power plants increase their work load as the winter months begin. The city of Harbin was effectively shut down last month when the smog pollution levels beat the records set earlier in the year by Beijing. It was stated in the same report done by the People’s Daily that lung cancer was the most common and the most deadly, killing more people in China than any other type of cancer. Now, an eight year old girl is the youngest person to have lung cancer, which her doctor reports was caused by the air pollution in her province.
China is a rapidly industrial country with a large population, which are two terrible things to have. Not only can the air pollution cause cancer, but China is also starting to roll out laws and regulations when the smog goes past a certain level. When this number is reached, schools, factories, car use, and other polluting means will be shut down, which could have a negative effect on the economy of China. This is specifically what happened to the city of Harbin as stated above and it is what both Korea and Japan are worried will happen to themselves as well.
As we learned last semester from Kim’s presentation on the Asian Dust storms that happen in the spring and summer months in East Asia. The dues originates in Mongolia, Northern China, and Kazakhstan where the high speed winds and dust storms pick of heavy clouds of dust particles and carry them over China, into North and South Korea, and Japan. With the increase smog and heavy particulates contained in the smog, North and South Korea and Japan are becoming more worried of the air coming from China and what is contained in the air.
I think this only adds onto the stress of the relationship between China, South Korea, and Japan. Not only is China becoming increasingly active in the island disputes and the power struggle between all of the countries in the East Asian sphere, they are also causing pain and hardships to the other countries in the area, which does not help in them working together to solve disputes. This also hurts China’s ability to be the economic powerhouse in the East. I think there is a chance for the other East Asian and Southeast Asian countries to compete with China’s economic powers if they are able to band together under one mission or goal. I think they could come together under the goal of fighting China’s pollution that is poisoning East Asia.
In the end, China will need to greatly reduce the smog and pollution in their country if they are to keep growing at the pace they are at right now. Shutting down cities and provinces does not help China’s goal to be the next world power. Having a eight year old girl with lung cancer caused by the smog can help give environmentalist groups the chance to significantly change the regulations and laws that can effect over polluting industries, power plants, and people.
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