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China dysfunction - May 22

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Birth Control Measures Prompt Riots in China

Joseph Kahn, NY Times
An intensive campaign to enforce strict population-control measures prompted violent clashes between the police and local residents in southwestern China in recent days, witnesses said, describing the latest incident of rural unrest that has alarmed senior officials in Beijing.

Villagers and visitors to several counties of Guangxi autonomous region in southwestern China said rioters smashed and burned government offices, overturned official vehicles, and clashed with the riot police in a series of confrontations over the past four days.

They gave varying accounts of injuries and deaths, with some asserting that as many as five people were killed, including three officials responsible for population-control work. A local government official in one of the counties affected confirmed the rioting in an interview by telephone but denied reports of deaths or serious injuries.

The violence appeared to stem from a two-month-long crackdown in Guangxi to punish people who violated the country's birth control policy. The policy limits the number of children families can have legally.

Corruption, land grabs, pollution, unpaid wages and a widening wealth gap have fueled tens of thousands of incidents of unrest in recent years, many of them occurring in rural areas that have been left behind in China's long economic boom.

The central government, expressing concern that unrest could undermine one-party rule, has alleviated the tax burden on peasants and sought to curtail confiscations of farmland for development. But China's hinterland remains volatile compared with the relative prosperity and stability of its largest cities.
(21 May 2007)
Also at TOD

BA writes:
Children are a much different proposition for a peasant family than for an urban couple. In an agrarian society with few government governments, a large family represent security. It's no surprise to see that population control seems to be a flashpoint, as China becomes more and more polarized, with social programs being cut. See
Chinese hospital staff face attacks amid high prices and dubious care

China's healthcare system - once almost free - is now one of the most market-oriented in the world. Since market reforms in 1979 the government's share of healthcare costs has declined from 54% to 17%. According to the World Health Organisation China ranks 188 out of 191 nations in terms of the equality of financial access to health.

Beijing blames pollutants for rise in killer cancers

Jonathan Watts, The Guardian
Foul air, filthy water and contaminated soil have led to a surge of tumours in China, where cancer is the main cause of death, the state media reported yesterday.

Raising fears that breakneck economic growth is having a dire impact on the nation's health, a government survey blamed pollution for a sharp rise in cancer cases.

According to the health ministry, the disease is ahead of cerebrovascular and heart ailments as the nation's biggest killer.

In a ministry study of 30 cities and 78 counties, scientists found that air and water pollution - along with widespread use of pesticides and food additives - was to blame for the trend.
(22 May 2007)

Three Gorges Dam is hurting river, study finds

Chinese experts say it's holding back most sediment, causing erosion
China's Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project, is retaining huge amounts of sediment and nutrients and causing significant erosion in the downstream reaches of the Yangtze River, researchers have found.

In a paper published in the latest volume of the Geophysical Research Letters, Chinese scientists said the dam had retained 151 million tons of sediment each year since 2003.
(21 May 2007)

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