China from the Inside:  Shifting Nature (Part 3)


How did Poisonous Illegal Industrial Chemicals End Up in Our Pet Food?

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I was immediately prompted to make these pages by the widespread tainting of American pet food with cheap Chinese grain filler that was contaminated with industrial chemicals that are illegal in most of the world except China.    When you have seen this documentary, you will not be left wondering why Chinese toxic industrial chemicals ended up in our pet food.    One can really understand most clearly by seeing the actual documentary, and I highly recommend it.  It is available for $20-$25 at all major outlets online, for instance at Amazon, and also for rent from Netflix.    However, the information in the documentary is far too important to restrict it to people who have access to buy or rent it.   Presumably that is why PBS finally put the transcripts online, but photos are also very helpful.


China has extremely grave problems and is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe the like of which has never been seen before, and exceeds human powers of imagination.   First of all, China is fully industrialized, to a degree that alone will shock people who see these documentaries.   Only one river in the country is not a polluted sludge, though people drink from water scooped directly from the rivers as well as dump all personal trash and sewage in them, and they are the main source of water for crops, one cannot see nor breathe in the cities, people are being uprooted and shuffled all over the place into high rise apartment buildings that make American slums attractive places to live, the entire northern steppe region has been converted to sand dunes, and Beijing's once huge reservoir has just short of gone the way of Lake Chad, and China's only apparent answer to this is to spread the polluted water around via huge canal projects that will further disturb the environment and uproot more hundreds of thousands of people.    The people as a whole are ignorant about hygiene beyond the level that is normal in the third world, are less able and accustomed to think for themselves and act as individuals than those of any other human culture, have serious attitude and moral problems, and are ill equipped to fix their environmental crisis.   The specific chemicals that turned up in the tainted wheat gluten, namely aminopterin and melamine, and since neither selectively causes kidney damage it is likely that there are more, could have been used to treat the fields where the wheat was grown, in the river water the fields were irrigated with, been in the water used to wash the grain, or settled out of the air onto the grain as it sat in the open air.   Moreover it is far from unlikely, and would not be unusual, that wheat gluten intended for industrial use was sold for use as food or that poisonous chemicals were added to the food deliberately for fraudulent purposes.   The rest of the world has no need to be eating or feeding animals with food produced in China.   Clothes and toys are one thing, but no sane person really wants to be eating their food.


But when you see what genuinely appears to have actually led to contamination of the pet food - it only makes sense given the rest of the information on these pages.  Adding poison to animal feed in China to raise readings on protein tests is considered normal practice.   Only one way to possibly understand such a thing.   Read the rest of these pages.   


Once THAT appeared, the FDA seems to have finally cut the shit, and (note: page is no longer there) BANNED THE IMPORT OF VEGETABLE PROTEINS FROM CHINA, FOR HUMAN OR ANIMAL FOOD!    Their explanation of the reason for the recall is fairly instructive; they did some sort of sampling of wheat gluten and concentrated rice protein, apparently wider than that from the two companies whose products prompted the recalls.   Nearly half the samples had melamine, and all the samples that had melamine were from China.   Mind you, however, this is a VOLUNTARY ban.    The FDA can't order actual import bans.   The specific wording says that inspectors can hold and importers can refuse to import the included products from China if they happen to feel like it.   


Note:  I didn't know it when I transcribed this, as transcripts were not available last time I looked, but PBS now ahs transcripts of the entire series on the program web site at  The China from the Inside website, at   It really isn't fully comprehensible without photos.   Below is my own transcript of Part 3 only.   Problems with the Chinese political system, for example, are well described in Part 1 and Part 4.   


These problems are not confined to food products shipped abroad and intended to feed animals.   My page of articles from BBC and New York Times reporting on several baby formula scandals in China in 2004 illustrate the full extent of the problems "China from the Inside" examines below.   One scandal concerns the sale of baby formula that was contaminated with toxins, and the other concerns the death of large numbers of Chinese babies from fake baby formula that actually contained no nutrition.   And for a Communist government, it emerges that the poor in China have no access to medical care.   


Two articles, one in the Wall Street Journal, from the Yale Global page, and the other from AP and ABC News, discuss China's growing routine problem with exporting food tainted with bacteria, industrial toxins, and pesticides.  Neither mentions that the water in the local river does the chickens and those who eat their eggs no more good than, for instance, feeding them cancer-causing industrial dye to boost egg production.


Here is a slide show of screencaptures from the documentary.  Included are two shots from Al Gore's Dvd on the environment, and screenshots of how Chinese industrial workers live from "Walmart, the high cost of low price", and of the general trade picture between the U.S. and China - literally - from "Is Walmart Good for America"   There are also several photos of the nice modern China that we hear so much about in the media.    Note that I haven't mastered how to order my slideshow, so the photos are in the order they organized themselves in in the original folder I have them in on my hard drive, which isn't particularly logical.  For instance, the photos of the living conditions of Chinese industrial workers, the clean new buildings look China is trying to project, and the photos of the scope of teh U.S.-China trade balance are near the beginning.  

Note:  If you get an error message saying you need the Windows Media Player plugin Windows Mediap Player 11, this is the standard error message the code on this page displays in some error circumstances and may not really be the problem.   If you're using firefox, the problem is most likely that you need to download and install the windows media player plugin for Firefox.   

Or see A gallery of photos that can display as a slide show of larger, higher resolution photos.

For why our companies are buying bargain basement junk pet food fillers from China, not to mention why Walmart imports its frozen peas from China, see my page on the two documentaries on Walmart.      For my own observations from experience and talking with people from China, as I knew many Chinese people  well when I lived in Buffalo, and my boss's observations from supervising factories in China, see my page of personal observations.    


Someone with a terrible British accent and British manner of speaking that is sometimes hard to understand, narrates this film produced apparently for PBS.  


An earlier episode explained current political developments in China.   While there are increasing moves toward a popular role in government, the main legislature has yet to ever go against the decisions and wishes of the high party officials, and while members of the legislature don't ahve to vote if they "have doubts" on a measure, they can only vote yes.  The popular mind is that without guidance and correct understanding all is anarchy.  Party officials still oversee the intensive indoctrination of the people in each village.  The government is obsessed with modernization, and local corruption is rampant.  People vote in local village elections under the close eye of Communist Party officials who are physically present as the people meet in the village square and line up cast bright colored ballots, one color being shown for each candidate.   People can apparently speak more freely than they once did, but it is seldom possible to get many people to listen to you.  Most attitudes are dictated by ignorance, inertia, the community, and the Party.


Voice over:  People welcome the factories. Because the factory's moving in, we could earn some money, and prosper.  


Wu Dengming, Environmental activist:  And then once the factories were here, our water's been poluted.  We can't drink it.  Our soil has been polluted, and grain production has fallen.  Our fruit trees have died of pollution.  Our pigs have died, our sheep have died, and our people have died, too.   We did not bargain for this, factories like these.  At first we wanted money, but now, we want quality of life.  


Narrator:  China's people are paying the price for her rapid economic growth.  The prosperity touches some; the pollution touches all.  


Deputy Minister Pan Yue, Environmental Protection Administration:  The environmental challenge isn't just to provide our children with future happiness.   But the real question of whether our generation will survive and ___.


Narrator:  This may be China's century.  She's growing richer, growing stronger.  And the process is taking her people through momentious upheavals.  



Nature in China is becoming a battleground.  Contested by scientists, activists, government, and ordinary people.  1.3 billion of them, whose air, water and soil are at stake.  Development creates human as well as environmental cost.  Giant construction projects involve resettling people in new cities, uprooting millions from land, job, and home.  


There are places in China which remind us what it must all once have been like.  When the rivers were at the center of daily life.  When the water was clean enough to wash vegetables in.  When the air was pure enough to dry meat safely.  When taming nature meant using cormorants to catch fish.  


Yet the Chinese also have a long history of improving nature.  Two and a half thousand years ago they started building the Grand Canal, linking rivers and cities.  


By the 1950's, heavy industrialization was the priority.  Chairman Mao Tse Tong (sp?) urged the Chinese people to conquer nature, thereby freeing themselves from it.  Half a century later, China opens  a new coal power station every week of the year, and emits more greenhouse gasses than any country other than the United States.  


Professor Lei Hengshun, Sustainable development expert:  You can't solve the problem of poverty without economic development.  But as you seek out economic development, you can't help but destroy the environment.  To cultivate more land, you have to build roads.  Chop down forests.  You have to do the same to build a factory.  And with this kind of economic development, emissions of industrial waste, and gasses, massively increase.  

As does human sewage.  With the rise of population density and living standards.  And so there's more and more pollution.  


Minister Pan Yue:  Of the world's ten most polluted cities, five, unfortunately, are in China.  Such severe pollution is undoubtedly a grave threat to the health of the Chinese people.  


Narrator:  The Huai River flows for 600 miles across the middle of China, providing water for over a hundred and fifty million people.  


Huo Daishan, Environmental activist:  I was born on the banks of the Huai River.  It was in 1987, that I grew worried, about the quality of the water pollution in the river.  I go back to take pictures of the scenery, but then there never was any scenery.  Instead, I find myself taking photos of the people dredging up dead fish.  


Narrator:  Huo Diashan gave up his job as a newspaper reporter, to save the Huai.  


Research took him to its main tributary, the Sheiying (sp?).  Nearly half a million tons of human sewage a day flow into it.  Plus a million tons of untreated waste water from paper mills, tanneries, chemical works.  Some use processes ---   Their effluents include ammonia, cyanide, arsenic.


Diashan:  Water from this river has flowed through irrigation channels into villages, and sunk into the ground.  People who drank this polluted ground water just became ill.  


Deishan:  The water from this river, the black and stinking water, takes death with it wherever it flows.  It really is a river of death.  Before the local rate of cancer was one in a hundred thousand.  Now in some villages it's one in a hundred. Cancer doesn't differentiate between age or gender. This cancer sufferer is one year old.  A grandmother, grandfather, mother and father have all died from cancers.  She has cancer of the liver, and has had an operation, which left a deep scar.  This woman had esophogeas cancer, and had an operation, which required therapy.  She lost all her hair.  When I saw her, she was already beyond cure, was preparing for death, and... her burial place.  This is an esophagus cancer sufferer from Penong Yi Village (sp?)  Her name was Jon De Jin.  Cancer had --- her whole belly.  ... she died.


Wang Canfa, Environmental lawyer:  It's widely reported that because of Huai River pollution, there are cancer villages.  But if you sue through the courts, the requirements for evidence are very strict.  If you don't have this evidence, you might lose the case.  And where the cause of illness is pollution, it's very difficult to gather evidence.  So, say you've got a disease, like stomach cancer, or lung cancer, and you say it's caused by polluted water, it's extremely difficult to prove a causal connection between the two.  


Narrator:  Vice Minister Pan Yue does not need convincing of the link between peoples' health, and their environment.


Pan Yue:  Too many of our people die from cancer every day.  We don't have accurate figures.  We haven't done the ___.  But many cancer cases are related to environmental pollution.  


Narrator:  But teh booming economy is one of China's priorities.  And the environmental administration has limited power to hinder that.  


Our environmental law has tens of sections, but stipulates that it can only play a supervisory role.  They don't have the power to shut down polluting companies.  It's surprising that in all these sections we haven't been granted this authority.  We don't have the power to do it.   The fines that can be imposed are tiny.  The cost of observing the law is high, but it costs very little to break it.  So why would anyone listen to what we have to say, and stop pollution?  Of course they won't.  


Narrator:  Another problem is the complex web of links between local industry, and local government.   These range from legitimate common interests, like maintaining employment, to out and out corruption.  Some local governments are even part owners of the local factories, and treating waste eats into profits.  


Deishan:  Local protectionism is everywhere.  These big companies are pillars of the economy.  They're powerful taxpayers.  They play an important supportive role for local finance and development.  


Narrator:  Environmental activits like Yuo Deishan operate in a gray area.   Nationally they can be taken as heroes, fighting for cleaner, safer China.   But locally, they can seem more like troublemakers.  


Daishan: I've had anonymous threatening phone calls saying, this isn't any of your business, so keep out of it.  Don't stick your nose into matters that don't concern you.   That's one thing.  But it's not all.  I've been beaten up.  


Narrator:  One result of local protectionism is that local bosses tip off factories that inspectors are on the way.  Then the factories hurriedly treat teh waste, making the river flow clearer, for awhile.


Daishan:  There's a folk song going around with the words,

Emitting clear water is the sign that soon it's official inspection time.  


Narrator:  China's official news agency, Cheng Oi (sp?) says that around 50,000 people on the Cheyenne (sp?) River have been found to have cancer.  As for Hom Yen Hying (sp?), the original cancer village, local government was shamed by Huo Deishan and his photos, into giving teh villagers a deep well with safe water.  But only after a hundred and eighteen of them had died.  


Daishan:  The situation there is improving, but Hom Yen Hying village isn't a special case.  Isn't a ---- incident.  These high cancer rates we're seeing, these cancer villages, are just the tip of the iceberg.  


Narrator:   The scale of the problem is daunting. Amost anywhere there are people, there is pollution, and pollution is easily spread.  This river flows from Tibet into India, and Bangladesh.  A third of the world's population uses water from China.  China's acid rain falls on Korea, and Japan.  Pollution from its factory chimneys lands in Canada.  There's little incentive for individuals or industry to take responsibility for waste.


Here's a typical scenario.  A small factory on the edge of a village.  Around the side, an outflow for waste from the industrial process.  This is then piped into an irrigation channel that provides water for farmers' crops.  


This is called the ___ River.  It ahs been killed by waste from a pulp factory.  


China grades water into five categories, level 5 being the worst.    Over half the country's major river systems are level 4 or higher.   And so are unfit for any human use.  A third are so polluted, they're above level five.  


One of the few lawyers in China who will take on pollution cases is Wong Tse Far (sp).


Screen caption:  Let's see the photos from Pinnan.   The pollution there is terrible.  


Narrator:  He's won nearly 80 environmental cases, securing restitution for victims.  He helps draft environmental laws, and trains judges, but its hard getting justice in pollution cases.  


Screen caption of Wong Tse Far speaking angrily:  It used to be bamboos and trees, and now it's all dead!


Wang Canfa, Environmental lawyer:  According to our system, the courts are financed by local government.  So if a court finds a local business in teh wrong, and orders it to stop production, the local government will stop receiving tax revenues.  That's why there's often interference in court cases.  So you can't get a fair judgement.  


If we had a lever, for forcing the local governments to see environmental protection as their responsibility, even their mission, then environmental protection would be improved.


Narrator:  There's no consistent pattern.  Some local governments resist environmental protection, others encourage it.  The  Han River in Huvay (sp) Province runs through areas of heavy industrialization.  But it has guardian angels, both in Communist Party offices, and along its banks.  


Woman hands out leaflets to boat captains.  She is with a group with green flags.  "Take this and spread the word.  It needs more of us.  You see more people than we do."  


Narrator:  You Chang Lee leads the Green Han River Group on a campaigning field trip.  (the group marches in a line, wearing identical red jackets and caps and carrying several green flags.)  Their leaders include teachers, and engineers, policemen, and businessmen.   (They look like student clones of each other.)  Senior local party official Marlee sees them as allies.  


Mai Li, Xiangfan Party Official, who is by far both the best dressed and the most intelligent looking Party official seen on the entire series so far:  The government has always supported these activities.  We think that having such a beautiful mother river, we should treasure it as we do our own lives.  We take pride in the fact that you can drink water straight from the middle __ of the Huang/ Huvay (sp?) River.  


Narrator:  One of the group's main tasks is getting local people to help look after the river.  (the local peasanst are healthier looking and better dressed than any Chinese peasants seen so far.)


Screen cap of Red Jacket propounding: Criminals who pollute the water won't dare if the people are watching.   The places where people have cancer didn't protect the water.  So we must protect the environment.  Some people just want to make alot of money and leave a legacy of a pot of gold.  But it's better to leave green hills and clear water.  (Unusually plump and well dressed peasant nods reverently at Communist official in the red getup.)   Group marches in a line through the countryside singing and waving their green flags.  


*****  Narrator:  The group is worried about heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which run off the fields into the river.  Yuong Chi Lee preaches green values to a poultry farmer.  


Screencap:  Put the duck manure on the fields.   We don't throw it in the river.  We should protect our ancestors' river.  


(My note:  Light dawns.  Of all the people in China, the upbringing of people living along the Han River has not been to disrupted by such Communist policies as the Cultural Revolution, to remember what ancestors are!)     


Narrator:  What gives the Green Han River group the freedom to operate is the approval of local officials who put the environment ahead of local commercial interests.  


Party Official:  There's a fermented ___ soil factory in the upper reaches of teh Han River.  And the waste it produced heavily polluted the river.  Around a thousand people work in this factory.  But we shut it down.  We shut it down without any hesitation.  There have been many cases like this, cement factories, paper factories, there's a long list.  


Whether it's governmental organizations, or NGO's, we pursue the same way; a better life, a better environment.  


Narrator:  In the North of China, millions of people don't even have dirty water.  


Ma Li, Ningxia villager:  It would be OK if it rained.  The trees would grow in teh mountains.  We'd have water to drink.  The wheat would grow instead of defeat to eat.   The problem is, it doesn't rain.  (she suddenly forgets to stupidly smile constantly.)   


Narrator:  China is trying to feed 20% of the world's population on just 7% of the world's arable land.  (showing large stretches of desert in northern China)  Over a quarter of China is sand, and an awful lot of that sand is in Ningxia, a part Muslim region in Northern China.  (some of the people in the villages have dark skin and wear middle-eastern Muslim style hats.)  The terraced fields have been plowed, waiting for rain that doesn't come.  (Wasn't this region once grassy steppeland?   Was it ruined?)  This village village is even called, "crying out for water".  The people of Ningxia are among the poorest in China.  Some, like Ma Li, follow tradition by making their homes in caves.  


Ma Li: We have nothing.  You see, there's nothing here.  ... no water, no washing.  Water costs money.  No money, no water.  (Ma Li doesn't suddenly look bright, but she isn't smiling.)  


Narrator:  Ningxia's main source of water is the Yellow River.  It's also been Ningxia's barrier against the Dobi Desert to the north.  The people have chopped down the trees that once lined and protected its banks.  Forests have given way to sand, pushing up silt levels in the river.  The Gobi Desert is now spreading into Ningxia.  Some people have overplowed, and overgrazed, turning grasslands to desert.  Add climate change, and the results are sandstorms, hunger, poverty.  But not for all.  


Ma Zanlin, Director, resettlement project:  Huang Se Po was virtually part of the Gobi Desert.  It really was a desert, with one sand dune after another.   And now, it's been turned into an oasis.  The Chinese have created fertile farmland in the desert.  At a cost of 350 million dollars.   Pumping stations and canals bring precious water up from the Yellow River, twenty miles away.    A hundred and fifty square miles is now producing crops.  (that would be an area 10 miles times 15 miles.   Not quite as much land as they've ruined.)   Millions of trees have been planted, to strengthen the bank and act as a windbreak.  (Shows the water truck they run down the road every day to water teh trees on the bank of sand and dead grass.)  And with the hydraulic engiering, goes social engineering (what, again?)   Four hundred thousand people ahve been resettled here from the driest parts of Ningxia. (on a piece of land 10 x 15 miles?)  (Shows dark skinned women in Muslim head scarves.)   


Zanlin:  They say it because they're right... development (garbled).  Our company, among others, now advocates human rights.  (Please.)  But if people don't even have subsistence rights, how can you talk about their right to development?   (How does Mr. Zanlin look half European, not to mention half Italian mobster - and I SWEAR that's a gold front tooth in his mouth?)  So as long as the state can afford it, we should try to move people up there from the south.   


Narrator:  The first village in this new house was built by Ma Li Jong.  (sp?)  


Ma Yingzhong, resettled farmer (has Arabic colored skin, a beard, and a Muslim cap, and a rasping Middle Eastern voice; on the wall and the sofa behind him are hangings with Middle Eastern motifs, and the floor is covered with mats and blankets):  People LIKE to settle here.  It's not like they don't want to.  Even if you didn't want to move, what could you do without rain?  There's no way of surviving.  


The wind was light... and didn't blow away the sand, a big improvement.  Wherever there's water, things are good.  That's why we can sell our harvest on teh land here (he points upward with his long skinny finger).  


Narrator:  But they can't afford to move everyone. 1.7 million people will have to remain in the arid areas.  


Ma Li is back, and so is her stupid constant smile:  I'd like to go, and I'd take my ma and dad and everyone with me.  (Giggles)  Who doesn't want to move?   We're not being moved.   We have to stay here.   (What - strict orders from the Communist officials said she has to stay in that exact spot?  If China is now a free society, I'd be gone south to a city!)    


The other day I said to a party official, if you won't move us, can you atleast give us running water (smiles)?   (giggles)  Running water? he said.  Have you been drinking?   You see, we're too far, and too high.  We can't get water up here.   


Narrator:  Drought and the Gobi Desert are creeping across northern China.  The Gobi is just a hundred miles from Beijing.  Her ten million people rely for their water on the Neean (sp?) Reservoir, fifty miles from the Capital.  But the level has dropped to a third of its capacity.  The water's edge has receded so far that farmers now cultivate the land.  


The mayor of Beijing would be very nervous if there weren't enough water in the reservoir.  (The mayor of Beijing is a wonder.  He's atleast half Black, with kinky hair, medium deep brown skin, and half negroid features, and his nose actually suggests part European ancestry!.  He too has the stubble of a beard and mustache.  One or more of his parents is no more Chinese than that mobster who founded the oasis in the Gobi.)  


Apparently the mayor being translated:  If the water supply stopped, it would be a disaster for Beijing.   A crisis like that would affect the stability of peoples' lives.  The stability of our society.  (He's a shape shifter, and a year and a half ago, he was the Mayor of New Orleans.)  


Narrator:  Two hundred million people across the north of China face the very real possibility that one day, the water will run out.  To head off this catastrophe, their leaders plan to spend fifty six billion dollars diverting water from teh south of China to the north.  Three new canals will be created, each hundreds of miles long.  


(Map shows one of them from the Yangtse River in the west toward near the beginning of the Yellow River in the western desert, and the other two run from the head of the Han River, and the Yangtse River near the ocean, to the Beijing area, which actually is not far from the the Pacific Ocean.  A branch would extend along the peninusula south of Beijing.   Three of the four branches of the two canals that go to Beijing go to the Pacific Ocean.  The fourth goes to Beijing.)  


Narrator: It's the largest hydraulic project in the world.  Professor Leo (?) is responsible for this, the middle canal.  


Professor Leo or whoever:  You could describe this project as extremely big.  The total length would be 900 miles.  We're talking in effect about building a new river.   A rather large, man made river, running from the south to the north.


(They show "Professor Leo", who they never identify, and it is the same man they previously appeared to identify as the mayor of Beijing - evidently he's actually a geologist.  They consistently show him standing next to topographical maps on his office wall.  Whoever he is, his intellect continues to resemble that of the Mayor of New Orleans, and one still has to wonder what a half Black man is doing in China propounding policy.)  


Narrator:  All three waterways involve mighty feats of engineering.  At Danjeinka Reservoir, they'll have to raise the height of the dam by fifty feet, to increase water capacity.  Here, Professor Rillio's/ Rufessilio's canal will burrow under the Yellow River itself.  (Why would it burrow UNDER the broad river?)  The eastern line will commandeer the ancient Grand Canal studding it with pumping stations, forcing the water uphill to Beijing.  


But the most challenging, and uncertain route, requires tunneling for a hundred and sixty miles through the mountains of the Tibetan Plateau.  The whole project will take perhaps fifty years to complete.  


Professor Whoseit:  I don't feel we are conquering nature.  But maybe nature itself isn't very fair.  God isn't fair.  (big grin on face)  Why is that?  (Still grinning)  He's given southern China so much water, but given the north so little.  It's good land.  Nice, flat land, up there.  It's got so little water.  (Grinning again)  So we say, as God isn't fair, we are trying to balance out God's unfairness (looks smug).  


Narrator:  But there's no point in balancing it out with dirty water.  The grand canal is so polluted, that the northern city of Peinjing, with low reserves and ten million people (I think this might be the city just southeast of Beijing on the Pacific Ocean)  is reluctant to accept water from it.  


And what affect will the north-south diversion itself have on China's environment?   


Minister Zhang Jiyao, South-North Water Diversion Project:  We must assess the ecological impact during the process of diversion.  That's precisely why we provided the project with several phases.  According to our current assessment, the north-south water diversion will not have much effect on climate ---


Narrator:  But all that water going north has to come from somewhere.  And the less water there is in a river, the higher the proportion of pollution.  


Professor Lei Hengshun, sustainable development expert (Appearing to show the healthy Han River):  We've been forced into the south-north water diversion because of China's particular situation.  Of course, alot of experts are against it.  The most crucial thing will be to guarantee the quality of water.  If it's dirty water being diverted over thousands of miles, then the losses will outweigh the gains.  


Narrator:  The Han River flows into the Yangtze at Wuhan.  This blooming city has realized that water pollution now threatens its very character.  But for once, rivers aren't the problem.  


A suction pump/ pipe blows a deisel of black mud into the sky.  (Photo shows black liquid spewing from what looks like a hole in a pipe in the water.)   Dead fish --- the edge of the water, too dangerous to paddle in.  A sewer is backed up, sending raw sewage into another of the city's ornamental lakes.  


Huhan was once famed for its hundred beatiful lakes, but as the city's grown, it's used them as dumps for industrial waste adn raw sewage.  


Now the people who go boating on Lotus Lake take not picnics, but funnels, filters, sample bottles.  (the people shown demonstrating their project are all clones. Some of tehm wear identical sober business suits, and the rest wear identical white plastic suits and bright red life vests.)    Professor Wu Jin Ben is an expert on water and the environment.  He's running an experimental project over three years to try to clean up just six of Wuhan's lakes.  (Four clones in not business suits row onto the lake in a small green and white rowboat.)  


Professor Wu Zhenbin, Institute of Hydrobiology, in a business suit - no, he's got on a deep purple shirt and a sweatjacket made to RESEMBLE a sober business suit:  Ahhhh... there's collecting samples to analyze the water quality, and its biological composition.  We collect samples four times a week.  The water may look alright, but its quality is actually very poor.  If you touch it, it's bad for you.  And just standing near it, you can tell it stinks.  It's no good for peoples' health.  


Narrator:  Thirty years ago, people used to be able to swim in the water.  Not any more.   People really (?) want to use the lakes.  (Or don't want to - not clear.)  


The cleanup has already begun, using natural methods.  Water is pumped up from the lake, is passed through layers of plants, which absorb and break down the pollutants. (shows water coming out of many small holes in the pipes) It then seeps through a bed of earth, which acts as a second filter.  (Before it gets near the little sparse plants, as nearly as I can tell. Professor Wu Zanbin stands talking and gesturing over an entire little garden of his sparse little plants.)  Having gone through two levels of treatment in this experimental system, water comes out over tehre, having been nicely purified.  (Then it's used to - wash the grain sold to Americans for pet food?)  That's how the water in this small lake is being improved.  (No wonder it isn't improving.)   


Narrator:  Professor Wu plans to reopen connections between the lakes (which explains the men in business suits who look like they're on tour), and flush them through with water drawn from the Han River by this new channel.  --- around China are watching to see if his solutions will work for them.  


Professor Wu:  It looks like what we're doing is (painting?) things.  Actually what we're doing is recovering things.  We're trying our best to get everything back to its original state.  Our work benefits the environment as well as the quality of peoples' lives.  That's how I see it.  We don't think ---, we're trying to get back closer to nature, ---- (garbled).


Narrator:  Some of the rarest animals on the planet live in teh Wuhan area.  Here too, scientists are working to recover a desperate situation.  


Professor Wang Ding, Institute of Hdyrobiology:  The porpoises in the Yangste River are the only fresh water porpoise in the world.    You can't find them anywhere else.  And, they're different from the ones living in the ---.  That's why they're unique.  They're very special.  


Narrator:  The porpoises are rarer than pandas.   But the pandas' environment can be protected, whereas the porpoises have to take their chances in the busy waters of the Yangste.  But pollution is only part of their problem.  The north-south water diversion will reduce levels of the Yangste, increasing under water noise from ships' engines and propellers.  


Professor Ding:  The porpoises use the same echo radar system in the wild to communicate, but the noises greatly disrupt their sonar system.  Sometimes, especially during the low water season around the narrow channels, we find them killed by propellers.  


Narrator:  This female porpoise is pregnant.  Professor Wang will release her, and others, into protected backwaters of the Yangste.  


Professor Ding:  China is the most populous country in the world.    Given this, competition for resources is inevitable between man and animals, as well as other living beings.  Humans are always on top.  But as they develop, they musn't damage the environment too much.   Because in the end, humanity as a whole will have to face the consequences.  


Narrator:  According to official Chinese figures, a hundred and sixteen million people in China's city's breathe air considered too dangerous to breathe.  Four hundred thousand of them die prematurely from air pollution every year, mostly from lung and heart related diseases.  


Environmental activist Dai Ching, put herself into the mind of a corrupt official who protects polluters rather than their victims.  


Dai Qing, journalist and activist:  Whatever I can grab, I grab.  Hang the rest.  Without a --- environment, air quality, I don't care.  If there's money, I'll take it.   And then, the country's got no clean water, or clean air, so I'll emigrate.  Sneak my money away, and live a quiet life.  But what if everyone in China did this?  


Canfa:  Environmental protection departments should emphasize law enforcement.  And they can't just rely on one or two operations here or tehre to deal with companies that break the law.  It should enforce the law on a daily basis.  They must build strong mechanisms to enforce environmental laws.  They've got to be ready, at any time, to arrest those who don't abide by environmental laws, ---- .


Narrator:  Chongqing, on the Yangste River, is western China's industrial powerhouse.   


Wu Dengming, environmental activist:  The main pollutant being pumped out is sulfur dioxide.  Thsi comes from Congquing's high sulfur coal.  The coal used in our power stations hasn't had the sulfur taken out.  Now the state is gradually introducing requirements for sulfur removal.  But in order to cut costs, teh power stations just emit the sulfur dioxide and --.  


Narrator:  The high cost of cleaning up all this pollution, will effectively cancel out China's remarkable growth rate of 8% a year.  


Pan Yue:  I think it's safe to say that the loss to our economy caused by the environment is 15% of our GNP.  I wonder why Chinese officials fail to understand the linkage between the economy, and protecting the environment.  


Economic growth alone --- the increasingly serious problem of overpopulation, shortage of resources, and environmental pollution.  


Narrator:  Human costs in China are not just about pollution, but  as the Three Gorges Dam shows, its purpose is to generate electricity and control flooding on the Yangste River.  But there have long been serious concerns about its environmental impact, and the plight of the one million people forced to relocate.  


At the National Peoples' Congress in 1992, two delegates protested, as only supporters of the dam were allowed to speak.  With a third of the delgates abstaining or voting against the project, Professor Lea and others pushed through a key amendment, giving them the right to monitor the project and highlight problems.


Professor Lei:  I think this was a historic achievement.  It provided the legal basis for people like me to carry out research in this area.   Through this measure, the state acknowledged that any problems with --- should be further investigated.   And solved accordingly.  So after taking part in the 1992 National Peoples' Congress, I turned the focus of my research toward teh Three Gorges Dam Reservoir area.  


Narrator:  Almost every year since, Professor Lei has made field trips into the area of the dam.  


Professor Lei:  I'm an academic.  I can't just trot out what other people say.   I have to do research in person.   


Narrator:  First stop is a tree planting scheme about fifty miles upstream of the dam.   But even though the professor has won the right to ask straight questions about the progress of -- the dam, he has no guarantee of straight answers.  




How big is your test area?


What test area?


This green area.


Er... what we've already...


What are your targets?


Let me think.


How much have you planted?


Er... over fifty acres.


How many trees per acres?


Er... I'm not sure.




I'm not in charge of that.  That's one for the Reservoir Planting Department.  


So what's your department?




So noone here today knows the exact area ... or how many trees have been planted?...  


Offical turns to another man.  Do you have the figures?  What, you didn't bring the plans?   We sent you some stuff and said we'd look at the planting... and you said no need...


No, I didn't.   


Narrator:  Professor Lei strikes out on his own, to talk directly to the tree planters.  


You're working hard.


It's not too bad.  


Narrator:  The reason he's so interested in the tree planting, is that after the valley is flooded, it'll be the trees that'll help stabilize the upper slope.  




You've got to dig that deep!


Narrator:  Teh professor finally gets the answer he wants.


Worker: We plant 1200 trees an acre.  


Narrator:  Professor Lei is followed down the hill by yet another propaganda department official.  The Three Gorges Dam is a sensitive subject.


Narrator:  As well as the three famous gorges, whose cities, towns, villages, and fertile farmland will be submerged for four hundred miles.  And how clean will all this water be?   Chung --- Fu, the director of propaganda, is adamant.  


Propaganda minister:  The Yangtze River water is very, very clean.   We protect our mother river and the reservoir area.  Everyone, young and old, is protecting the environment.  


Narrator:  The Chang -- News agency admits that the city of Yunyang alone dumps over a million tons of untreated waste into the Yangste every year.  


Narrator:  Professor Lei now visits Huang Lang.  A new town is being built for over a hundred thousand people whose homes are to be flooded by the Three Gorges Dam.  Here, the propaganda officials agreed to stand back and let the locals talk freely.  


As in (the place up north), if you thought your previous life was harsh, you welcome resettlement.  


Two women: If it hadn't been for the new dam, we'd still be in our old town.  We've been through alot worse.  We're quite happy now.  


Man - with Chinese features, kinky hair, and dark skin: Since moving here, our living conditions have gotten alot better.


His wife, who looks Indonesian:  It's like heaven.


Man:  We never thought we'd be able to move to a house like this.    It's been good for us.  


Narrator:  But eleven cities are being submerged.  People ahve lost jobs as well as homes.  Many farmers have been moved off land they've worked for generations.  Modest compensation payments are soon spent, and what's a farmer to do in an apartment complex?  It's not enoguh for a person just to have a house to live in.  How can they make a living?  They don't know how.  


Professor Lei:  The housing is great.  For peasants, they're mansions.  But there's no safety net.  They're slipping into poverty.  People say they're beggars.  Beggars living in mansions!  That's what ordinary people say!  It's a vivid image.


Narrator:  And it lays bare the nature of the problem.  It's a long day for Professor Lei.  But he's still curious to learn more about life in _____.  He comes upon a group of people with new homes in Yinyang, but no jobs.  


Screencap, Hellow, I'm from Congqing University.   I see you're playing chess.  I just wanted a chat.  What jobs do you do?  


We've been laid off.  


So now what?


I'm looking for a solution.


Do you have any plans?  


Not really.  


How many people in your family?


Four or five.  


How many have been laid off?




(Angrily.  He has dark skin, kinky hair and negroid features as well.)  We're so deprived.  I can't even afford my child's school fees.  We need help from privileged people like you.  I don't want to ahve to sell my home to pay the school fees.  If we could only pay last year's school fees on time.  


Narrator:  They become increasingly relieved that someone is interested in their problems.   


Narrator:  Finally the professor is taken aside by a man who hints at even darker local problems.


Screencap:  The police can't do anything.  We need the county government to act.  Resettled people are having serious problems.    It's affecting atleast 12,000 of us.  You're from Chongqing University so could you help us?   Tell the city government about us.  Tell them to send somebody down to the riverside.  That's where the poorest of the poor live.  


Professor LEi:  In my opinion, because of China's particular situation, there are things being done today which aren't ideal.  But they're done anyway. (laughs)  That's my personal opinion.  Not necessarily ideal, but they still have to be done.  Why?  Because the problems of survival and development of China's billion odd people have become a real headache.  Firstly, we don't have enough economic power.  Secondly, our science and technology aren't very advanced.  (Oh.  They know how to make and use every sort of advanced chemical and manufactured item but not what to do with the leftovers.)  Also, most of our people are not very sophisticated.  Given these circumstances, which can't be altered in the near term, all we can do is to balance advantages and disadvantages.  As long as the disadvantages don't outweigh the advantages, we can do it.  But it might not be teh best plan.    I think it's a choice born of helplessness.  


Narrator:  The South-north water diversion scheme will dwarf the three gorges dam.  And it's advantages won't be for decades, and won't ever be felt by those who have to make sacrifices for it.  Because raising the ------- dam, will raise the water level of the rivers feeding it.  People living along hundreds of miles of fertile banks will have to move out.


Professor Whoseit is back:  Our government is relocating three hundred thousand people in order to maintain long term security and stable lives for three hundred MILLION people.  So the advantages of water diversion outweight the disadvantages of relocating people.  Our waterline is to make sure that living standards AFTER resettlement are noticeably improved.  


Narrator:  Huan Ling, and his wife, Ai Wanying, have lived and farmed and raised their family on the upper Han River for over 13 years.  On the hill opposite is Long --- Tower.   An ancient shrine, said to protect the area from flooding.   But it's no match for the south-north water diversion.   


(Fu Anyin, who looks like a simple man who has led a hard life, is plowing a field with a primitive wooden plow pulled by two oxen and pushed by himself.  His wife, who both looks and talks as if she is more intelligent than he is, follows him.)


Ai Wanying:  It's policy from the top.  If the authorities tell you to go, you have to go.  You can't stay.  The people in Beijing will be drinking this water.  In 2008, the water will go there.  We all know that.  In 2007, we will all leave.  


Fu Anyin, farmer:  People who have been here for a long time beieve it's better for a village to be poor than uprooted.  But people our age are more understanding.  I'll move when the Party asks us to.  For the sake of the country's construction.  Individuals can't stand in the way.  It's for the good of the majority.  


Ai: It's easy fishing, here.  


Fu:  The fish taste good.  The shallow water fish.  


Ai: We don't want to leave here.  Our life's alright.  We earn enough to eat, and get by.  If we move, we're too old to start again.  All we can hope for is to be moved to a good place.  If the new place isn't as good as here, we don't want to move.  --- we grow them to sell.  Here oranges are this big.  If you come up to my home, I'll give you some to taste.  There are some at home.    Come and try them.