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China has achieved rapid economic growth over the past decade, but the rapid success has come at the expense of the environment. Independent Television News reports on pollution in China and the price of development.
LINDSEY HILSUM, ITV News Correspondent:
Scarcely a pastoral scene, coke smelters and steel plants where there used to be grazing lands. The government environmental watchdog in Beijing has told the Tangshan local authorities to stop building, but new factories are going up all the time.
The people are getting desperate. Their crops die, they say. And in this community of 3,000, 70 people, including many under 40, have had strokes. Medical studies show a correlation between stroke and air pollution.
Wei Wen Zheng was 37 when he suddenly blacked out while driving his taxi. Seven years on, he can manage a few household chores, provided he takes it slowly. He can't work, so his wife has to provide for the two children. His brother has also had a stroke.
WEI WEN ZHENG, Chinese Citizen (through translator):
We drink the water that's polluted by the factory. There are test reports on that water. Also, whenever we work in the field outside of the factory, we come home covered in coal dust.
The factories dump their garbage out in the open. Lee Suo Jiao showed us around. He's turned from farmer into campaigner, filing endless reports and petitions, but to no avail.
Environmental inspectors came from Beijing, he said, but went away and did nothing. Factory owners frequently bribe local officials or go into business with them.
Whatever environmental directives come down from Beijing, it seems that here in Tangshan they take no notice. Local officials carry on approving factories, even though they've been told specifically that they may not build anymore.
And as for those who are sick, apparently because of the pollution caused by those factories, they're just seen as necessary sacrifices, the unfortunate casualties of progress.
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