China's Pollution Problem (In 1 Stunning Chart)

Tyler Durden's picture

The disgusting images of face-mask-wearing Chinese going about their daily business in minimal visibility and lung-busting conditions are strewen across the interwebs. However, even fake sun-rises pale into significance when the full dismal reality of China's pollution problem is put in context. Perhaps the following chart is why China's latest round of reforms appear to 'declare war on pollution'.


h/t @conradhackett


And it seems that has finally tipped the Chinese over the edge to do something about it... (via Charles Kennedy via

On March 5th China’s Premier Li Keqiang declared war on pollution, outlining significant steps the Chinese government will take to improve air quality. China has suffered from truly epic smog over the last two winters, choking its cities’ inhabitants and cutting off visibility. The pollutants in the air have surpassed hazardous levels, at times jumping beyond the index that measures particulate matter.


"We will resolutely declare war against pollution as we declared war against poverty," Li Keqiang told the legislature, according to Reuters. The central government’s top concern has always been social stability, and the Premier’s announcement that China will take some drastic measures to improve the environment indicates that the government is beginning to worry that air pollution may spark unrest around the country.


Among the measures the government will take, Li said the government’s focus will be on reducing particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10). The government will shut down 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces in 2014, and overhaul power plants in high intensity industries. China will also reduce steel production by 27 million tonnes in 2014 – equivalent to the total output of Italy. Also, the government will look at reforming energy pricing in an effort to pave the way to greater use of renewable energy and nuclear power. The government also hopes to remove six million high-emissions vehicles from the nation’s roads.


The speech comes after an announcement last month by the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC) that the government will spend $330 billion to reduce water pollution. Much of China’s agricultural land and rivers are contaminated with heavy metals.


Over the last several decades, China has succeeded in lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, often described as the greatest achievement in poverty reduction in human history. China hopes to continue to grow, but now with a greater pro-environmental focus.

Of course this all sounds great until growth is affected - or a coal plant is shutdown causing contagious defaults across the shadow banking system... at which time we will see just how committed the Chinese government really is...

Here, as we explained previously, are the coal-mining-industry-based trust products...

We believe that coal mine trusts are the most likely to default over the coming months because 1) coal price has dropped sharply in recent quarters; 2) most of the issuers are private enterprises; and 3) they tend to be from provinces whose governments rely heavily on resources related income, e.g., Shanxi and Inner Mongolia.

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Alpha Dog Food's picture



Written by Wun Tin Lung?



boogerbently's picture

How many China mans would there be with clean air?

They will mimic the USA during our "industrial revolution".
Unions, protection agencies, over regulation, then a slow slide into international obscurity.

Then, Africa.

LetThemEatRand's picture

The funny thing is that there are a lot of people who defend China's pollution, because it is a perfect example of what is wrong with letting companies put profit ahead of everything else.  

hardcleareye's picture

Can you give specific examples of the people who "defend" China's pollution "because it is a perfect example of what is wrong with letting companies put profit ahead of everything else."

Your statement appears to have several "logical fallacies" in it...

In other words, I call bullshit!   lol

LetThemEatRand's picture

Did you not read this thread?

Unpopular Truth's picture

pollution is the price to pay when saving on manufacturing costs.

and they have saved on manufacturing costs for years


now they're costs will go up as well and maybe some jobs will come back


come ba



Hobbleknee's picture

They actually had a cash-for-clunkers program in China, as well as 75 other countries, at the same time the US did.  Does that surprise you?

666's picture

I know 535 clunkers in Washington that I'd like to trade in for cash...

rpboxster's picture

The 535 have already been traded for $

johnQpublic's picture

if their war on polution goes as well as our war on drugs, or terror, or poverty, then the country i going to be covered in a permanent haze in 4,3,2....

Richard Chesler's picture

Ill take the smog over clean air with Obozocare any time.

11b40's picture

Are you retarded, or just a partisan nut bag?

FiatFapper's picture

Haven't tesla won a contract to provide shit loads of electric buses to China?

Sudden Debt's picture

Tesla? :) China has it's own electric car producers that build much better electric cars.

But the lithium batteries are still to dangerous and inefficient to use in a commercial way.


LawsofPhysics's picture

Fuck em, let them choke on thier own choices.

Let's hope that pacific filter keeps working.

Sudden Debt's picture

The only way to solve this problem is to change the maximum pollution levels to 200.


LawsofPhysics's picture

Please, problems like this tend to "fix" themselves.

NihilistZero's picture

As if the average Chinese person choking to death actually has a "choice"...

RaceToTheBottom's picture

If it is smoggy outside, won't they work longer hours so as not to be exposed?


trader1's picture

china is the single-largest agricultural producer, feeding 20% of the world's population.

what happens to ~ 1.5 billion people when they regularly eat contaminated food?



Sudden Debt's picture


I mean... I don't think their food can be more contaminated than this... gutter "oil"....

LawsofPhysics's picture

China is not the single largest ag producer.  Pure propaganda.

trader1's picture

for a moniker "lawsofphysics", you should at least offer up some evidence for your claim.

i'm waiting... 

ZeroPoint's picture

China had a war on poverty? Poverty won. They shifted poor farmers and poor laborers into poor factory workers.


redd_green's picture

Oh yeah.  The government had little control over farmers living in remote areas, but now all of those people are basically indentured servants living in barracks. so poor they can't even afford a train ride home to visit relatives.    It worked, all right!

Vendetta's picture

all that over supply of housing for the 'new' middle class that can't afford the ticket for the train ride home, much less the housing built for them.

Sudden Debt's picture

or shipped them to Africa... the land of opportunity...

X_mloclaM's picture

yeah China's all like: omg we switched to a mixed economy from full fascist, and reaped other informational benefits from dramatic advancements in telecommunications benefitting the Earth as a whole, and we so totally say any benefit derived therefrom was our "War", rather than acknowledging the central deciders stand in the way of prosperity, and are nothing but opportunistic leeches blocking the swift return to a natural state of affairs

J S Bach's picture

Anything the WHO recommends as a "safe" number is sure to be absurdly low (10 mpcm).  The American Medical Association says that I - as a middle-aged man, 6', good health -- should weigh 165 pounds.  C'mon.  So, if I'm in at 200, I'm obese.


By the way, even in the humble opinion of this baroque Master, the WHO did write a few good songs (Baba O'Reilly, Won't Get Fooled Again, The Kids Are Alright).

hardcleareye's picture

And the  WHO and AMA are associated in what manner??????????? 

MillionDollarBoner_'s picture

Maaannn! You never read the Illuminati Trilogy? Where you been all your life?

7. The American Medical Association

Long before Dan Brown incorporated Illuminati mythology and iconography into Angels & Demons as an action-adventure plot device, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson authored the definitive masterpiece on the “Illuminati conspiracy” in their picaresque Illuminati trilogy consisting of The Eye In The PyramidThe Golden Apple and Leviathan. In Shea and Wilson’s universe, the world’s attention is drawn towards the American Medical Association, the most popular and significant rock band in the world - imagine The Beatles in their heyday and then some. Foreshadowing the influence musicians would one day exert over populist political and social issues like world hunger, African debt relief and global warming, the American Medical Association uses their popularity to attract hungry concert-goers to Bavaria, Germany, the birthplace of the Illuminati, for their European version of Woodstock. Unfortunately, the AMA’s motives are far more sinister than the simple domination of the hearts and minds of the world’s youth. As Illuminati Primi, the AMA serves as 4/5 of the secret organization’s executive council and masterfully and invisibly orchestrates all the world’s major events. Satirizing the paranoid belief that rock and roll is simply a communist plot to take over the world by poisoning its youth, Shea and Wilson create a scenario that only a demented, tyrannical anarchist could love. The AMA plans to use the good vibes and energy generated from their performance at the concert to reawaken dormant Nazi battalions, bring about the resurrection of Adolf Hitler and conquer the world.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Illuminati Trilogy, my first experience w/ disinformation...

Kobe Beef's picture

...and still one of my all-time favorites. It's damned funny.

J S Bach's picture

I know it's Monday, Gents... but you need to chill out.

I was merely pointing out the fallacy of allowing the likes of Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey to dictate Global Pollution Standards.  That's all.  Sheeeesh.

hardcleareye's picture

Looking at that chart one might conclude it is time to get rid of the EPA...... 

GetZeeGold's picture



Maybe it's time to send the EPA to China....and leave the rest of us alone.


Send the NEA and Common Core with them....we need to dumb down the Chinese in a big way.

hardcleareye's picture

Reading some of the posts on ZH it seems that the "normalization of stupidity" has been accomplished....

11b40's picture

It sure looks lke it from some of he responses to this article.

Lost My Shorts's picture

Mr. Koch, is that you?  Why don't you just move to China, instead of trying to turn the USA into China?

Though I guess that turning the USA into a poison pit like China would stop the Chinese from moving here and buying real estate.  And you, I am sure, have an estate on a nice island with fresh air, and don't give a rat's derriere what happens to ordinary Americans.

hardcleareye's picture

I forgot to put <sarc> at the end....  I was subconsciously "trolling" on ZH......  lol 

Enjoyed your response and concur with you.

Lost My Shorts's picture

At ZH, you definitely need a sarc at the end of that comment.  Straight up, I think it's a fairly common opinion around here, unfortunately.

I have lived in Asia and seen and tasted the poisoned air and food first hand.  The EPA (not counting the global warmist aspect) is the only thing right with America.

Flakmeister's picture

The snark/sarc was very clear, not your fault that many here suffer from terminal confirmation bias...

I would love to know what the PM2.5 levels were in major US industrial cities before the Clean Air Act...

Vendetta's picture

BP and numerous large multinationals would thank you profusely