Pollution kills more than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. 16% of all the deaths in the world, as a matter of fact. And many of these are in China, where in 2015 it was estimated that the dense air pollution contributes to between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths every year. What happens when a regime on the more … authoritarian [end] of the spectrum decides to take the environment seriously? We’re finding out in China, which has temporarily shut down 40% of its factories in the past year, and charged staff from over 80,000 of them with criminal offences for breaking emission limits. “[B]asically, you’re seeing these inspectors go into factories for surprise inspections,” Gary Huang from 80/20 Sourcing told NPR. “They’re instituting daily fines, and sometimes – in the real severe cases – criminal enforcement. People are getting put in jail.” “For those areas that have suffered ecological damage, their leaders and cadres will be held responsible for life,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy director of the Communist Party’s office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs. “Our people will be able to see stars at night and hear birds chirp.”
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