WASHINGTON—2007 was a significant year for China's environment. An estimated 750,000 people in China died from respiratory illnesses related to air pollution, while approximately 60,000 died from waterborne diseases. China's food processing and production sectors made headlines around the globe. Growing desertification in north and northwest China due to excessive water use and land mismanagement created more intense sand storms that affected the economy and health in China and Northeast Asia. In addition, China most likely surpassed the United States as the leading emitter of greenhouse gasses—and while the central government set laudable energy efficiency goals, it recently admitted that China had not met them.

The latest edition of the China Environment Series (CES), the flagship publication of the China Environment Forum (CEF) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, examines these and other increasingly serious environmental problems in China, focusing on linkages between health and the environment and identifying promising trends and opportunities for U.S. collaboration with China.


  • Xiaoqing Lu and Bates Gill see incredible challenges facing China as it attempts to address its environmental health problems, but they identify important next steps for policymakers, NGOs, and researchers.

  • Kaleb Brownlow and Stephanie Renzi ponder whether Guangdong province could be a vanguard for addressing pollution and related threats to human health.

  • CEF's Jennifer L. Turner and Linden Ellis turn attention to China's domestic food safety problems, which stem from unsustainable and unsafe animal husbandry and aquaculture practices.

  • In the China Environmental Health Project Special Report, Chris Groves and Amelia Chung describe their environmental health research work with scientists and communities in the karst water region of southwest China, and Wei-ping Pan introduces the progress of his coal-emissions monitoring and health study initiative in Huainan city in Anhui Province.


  • W. Chad Futrell outlines the health consequences of China's rapid desertification, and illustrates how increasingly frequent and severe sandstorms are sparking regional cooperation.

  • Christine Loh reports that the Pearl River Delta's dire air quality problems are catalyzing cooperation between the Hong Kong and Guangdong governments.

  • Kong Chiu, Yu Lei, Yanshen Zhang, and Dan Chen summarize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's studies linking energy initiatives and greenhouse gas reduction measures in China to concrete health benefits.

  • Chris Nielsen describes the Harvard China Project's extensive air and health research, which lays the foundation for stronger air pollution policies in China.

  • H. Dean Hosgood III introduces vital research on indoor air pollution, the fourth-largest cause of death in China.


  • Laurel Meng Lelan Miller and Samantha Jones delve into the health threats of Beijing's increasingly contaminated groundwater, which provides nearly 70 percent of its drinking water.

  • Baohua Yan describes how environmental education at a school for migrant children can plant the seeds for addressing water pollution in China's marginalized communities.


  • Wu Fengshi's article on the growing involvement of grassroots groups in HIV/AIDS policymaking highlights the potential for other health groups to become active in environmental health issues.

  • Jamie Choi describes the deleterious impact of the electronic waste trade and highly polluting recycling on communities in southern China.

  • Wen Bo introduces Chinese activists calling for more access to information about nuclear power plant construction, which he believes may support an emerging anti-nuclear movement.

  • Spotlights on NGO Activism offer succinct stories and anecdotes on grassroots and international NGO activism in China, including: Pesticide Eco-Alternatives Center, Green Camel Bell, Green Anhui, Shanghai Green Oasis, Green Hanjiang, Tai Lake Defenders, A Child's Right, China's Roots & Shoots Program under the Jane Goodall Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council's China Program, and the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction.

  • The online version of CES also includes an inventory of international NGOs working on environment and health in China.

  • For 10 years, the China Environment Forum (CEF) has implemented projects, workshops, and exchanges that bring together U.S., Chinese, and other Asian environmental policy experts to explore the most imperative environmental and sustainable development issues in China and examine the opportunities for business, governmental, and nongovernmental communities to collaboratively address these issues. The networks built and knowledge gathered by meetings, publications, and research activities have established CEF as one of the most reliable sources for information on China's environment and have given CEF the capacity to undertake long-term and specialized projects on topics such as environmental health, food safety, water management, nongovernmental organization development, and municipal financing for environmental infrastructure. This publication was funded by Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue.

    For more information on CEF, contact Linden Ellis at (202) 691-4022 or at Linden.Ellis@wilsoncenter.org