China's environmental woes are mounting, and the country is fast becoming one of the leading polluters in the world. The situation continues to deteriorate because even when Beijing sets ambitious targets to protect the environment, local officials generally ignore them, preferring to concentrate on further advancing economic growth. Really improving the environment in China will require revolutionary bottom-up political and economic reforms.
Elizabeth Economy, the Council's senior fellow for Asia, says that when President Hu Jintao of China meets President Bush at the White House next Thursday, the administration would like to see some progress on "sticky security issues" like North Korea and Iran. But she does not expect to see much help from China on these questions.