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Mon 30 Jun 2008
The China Price
Category : Commentary/ChinaPrice.txt
This is the smog in Nanjing. You can't make out the details of buildings that are less than 400 metres away on foot. Actually, it's the same in Shanghai and Suzhou, but maybe not as bad. The air is especially bad in Nanjing because it's surrounded by mountains. The smog gets trapped in between.
On the bullet train from Suzhou to Nanjing, if you sit on the left side of the cabin, you see the source of all these pollution - smoke billowing out from umpteen furnaces.
It's easy to imagine lungs blackened by continued exposure to the smog. Especially wretched are the fumes coming off the buses when you're stuck with them in traffic. You gulp for air - but what you get is nausea.
So, for the time I was in Nanjing I was thinking, the famous so-called China Price does come at a great price - to the Chinese people. Eventually there will be a payback - tuberculosis, exploding heath-care costs - and China will no longer be able to offer the China Price.
And that time may come sooner rather than later.
I had picked up Kishore Mahbubani's book, "The New Asian Hemisphere", immediately when I got back home (my hunger for information having grown stronger rather than was satiated from that trip) and this jumped out at me on page 190, in the section on global warming -
I hadn't known all these. So that was interesting. Because, while Shanghai was predictably Shanghai, and Suzhou was depressing, and Nanjing somewhat surly, Hangzhou had a nice, clean, cool, happy feel - like Fisherman's Wharf during WWDC week. And I was told China had more great places just like that. So there's all this potential - if they could just fix this pollution problem. They'll have a place where no Chinese would ever want to leave. What more incentive is there, then, to lick the problem?