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Looking at China and the Global Environment

April 25, 2022

Select USCI resources relating to environmental issues in China:
air pollution & climate change | water & soil pollution | waste & recycling | global reach | conservation | urbanization | issues aren't new | government documents

Air pollution and climate change

Clearing the air

Los Angeles and Shanghai smoggy skylines, 2020-2021, Creative Commons licenseApril 22, 2022, along with purifying water and soil, a pressing issue for China and the United States.



Is China going green?

April 22, 2021
Scholars Genia Kostka and Angel Hsu look at China's environmental protection efforts and the use of data in making and implementing Chinese environmental laws. (YouTube)


COVID-19 is changing the environment

March 26, 2020
A drop in travel and shuttered businesses has resulted in noticeably cleaner air: China's CO2 emissions are down 25% and satellite images show drops in pollution worldwide.

Could China save the planet?

May 14, 2019
Longtime Natural Resources Defense Council leader Barbara Finamore examines China's environmental challenges and a new global system of green finance. (lecture | interview | YouTube)

Measuring to monitor and to mobilize

April 24, 2018
The Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs is a pioneering and influential Chinese NGO. One of its officers, Xu Xin, shows how the organization collects and presents environmental data to inform the public and encourage enforcement of environmental regulations (YouTube). Environmental scientist Angel Hsu discusses data-driven environmental policy. (YouTube)

Blue Skies over Beijing: economic growth and the environment

September 9, 2016
Economist Matthew Kahn looks at the everyday choices made by the China's citizens, families, and government. He and his coauthor examine how urbanites increasingly demand cleaner living conditions. Where is China headed? (interview | YouTube)



Running out of water

April 22, 2021
Freshwater supplies have been shrinking worldwide. How are the U.S. and China coping?

Water and Food - Lucy Hornby and Simon Shao at our "Finding Solutions" conference

April 24, 2018
Journalist Lucy Hornby discusses why water and soil pollution are persistent problems and deepening public concerns (YouTube). Biologist and farmer Simon Shao discusses efforts to address China's food needs (YouTube).



Buried in plastic?

April 15, 2021
The plastics industry is global and the task of cleaning it up should be global too.

Recycling in Beijing

January 21, 2021
Historian Joshua Goldstein discusses the role recycling and recyclers have played in China's economy and its new sustainability challenges. (YouTube) "Waste not, want not" (2016 report) China's wastelands: How the world's trash ends up in China (2013 USCI | YouTube)



Environmental concerns along the Belt and Road

The environmental impact of BRI projects

April 12, 2021
Political scientist Jessica Liao looks at "green merchantilism" in BRI infrastructure projects, exploring what China refers to as "green foreign aid," "green financial systems," and "green trade and investment." (YouTube)



Preservation efforts

Documenting China's wild places and conservation efforts

June 18, 2021
Conservation photographer and writer Kyle Obermann discusses his work documenting the evolution of China’s nature reserves, national parks, and grassroots environmental groups. (YouTube)

Pandas as China's modern icon

August 26, 2021
Historian Elena Songster's new book links the emergence of the giant panda as a national symbol in China to the development of nature protection in the country. (YouTube)

Panda power

August 26, 2021
For a creature whose numbers are small and whose natural habitat is tiny, those lovable pandas have played key global roles in conservation, science and even diplomacy.

Pangolins and a pandemic -China's wildlife trade

August 18, 2021

This US-China Today article offers a look at China's lucrative wildlife trafficking industry and how the pandemic is driving demand.


Simba on saving Africa's lions

April 24, 2018
Simba (星巴, originally Zhuo Qiang 卓强) is the first Chinese national engaged in full-time wildlife conservation in Africa. He talks about his life and work among lions in Kenya (YouTube).


Expanding cities


Urbanization in China and the U.S.

October 19, 2021
China's urbanization has raised living standards and astonished observers.


Urbanization's benefits and its costs

May 17, 2016
Speaking at our "China's Growing Pains" conference, scholars Jonathan Woetzel (USCI | YouTube) and Tao Ran (USCI | YouTube) presented contrasting views of what China's rapid urban growth has meant and its sustainability.

Issues of long-standing

When a billion people jump

November 11, 2010
Journalist Jonathan Watts criss-crossed China to report on "an environment in crisis." He tells of this crisis by through vivid stories of individuals, including those with power and many without. (YouTube)


The global impact of China's environmental crisis and resource hunt

May 12, 2009
Researcher Elizabeth Economy looks at the range of environmental challenges in China, governmental and non-governmental responses, and the potential for multilateral cooperation to address problems. (YouTube)


Air quality at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

August 21, 2008
Comparing this summer's air in Beijing with that in Los Angeles (2028 games), New York, and London (2012 games).


Breathing in Beijing: pollution and the Olympics

November 9, 2007
In a US-China Today story, Laura Dilley talks with scientists, athletes and coaches about the challenges pollution imposes on competitors.

Government Documents

Visit our collection of reports, declared intentions, and speeches from Chinese and U.S. government agencies. For example: "Strategy for Cooperation," "Comparison of Green Energy Programs," and "Seafood: Safety and Trade Issues."