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The Lessons of Harbin

Author: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies
November 27, 2005
Time Asia

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“The environmental disaster that has unfolded over the past two weeks in the northeast Chinese city of Harbin has the makings of a great story: explosion at large petrochemical plant releases toxic pollutants into major river, threatening millions; local officials attempt cover-up; panic ensues; wiser voices prevail; corrective action is taken. Unfortunately, the real story remains largely untold. China’s rapid economic development, endemic corruption and highly decentralized political system have produced a life-threatening environmental crisis for hundreds of millions of Chinese.”

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