China's environment linked to birth defects

10/29/07 Mitch E. Perry
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A government report says that birth defects in Chinese infants have soared nearly 40 percent since 2001, and officials linked the rise to China's worsening environmental degradation.

The report said 2 to 3 million babies are born in China with "visible defects" every year, and a further 8 to 12 million would develop defects within months or years after birth

According to a World Bank study, about 460,000 Chinese die prematurely each year from breathing polluted air and drinking dirty water.

The report comes a week after China concluded its 17th Annual National Congress.

The Chinese government has long been considered one of the most repressive in the world, but recently has made some moves to open itself up, including inviting limited criticism on websites and publishing draft legislation before it becomes law.

Elizabeth Economy is the award-winning author of The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenges to China’s Future. She says that the Chinese government is taking some steps to open up, but its still very limited.

Economy is also a contributor to a new book published by National Geographic called, Inside China.

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