China playing dirty on pollution?
Haze cloaks the skyline in central Beijing today.
Scott Jagow: We begin with an alarming statistic from China. Researchers have found that every year, 750,000 Chinese die prematurely from pollution — 750,000 people a year. But this information was left out of a new World Bank report on pollution in China. Our correspondent Scott Tong joins us from Shanghai. Scott, how on earth could that not be included?
Scott Tong: The Beijing Olympic Committee is really sensitive about the issue of air quality. And they're concerned about any issues that are seen as destabilizing society in China. So you take those, put them together and according to the Financial Times, they leaned on the World Bank to take out these mortality figures.
Jagow: But I would think that if these numbers are accurate, they have much bigger problems than a PR situation before the Olympics. Are they arguing that the numbers aren't accurate?
Tong: One participant in this research study questioned the methodology, that it was unreliable. This person also said that 'we did not want to make this report too thick.'
Jagow: And what does the World Bank say about this?
Tong: The World Bank in a statement today said that what is public now is a discussion version of a full report that's gonna come out at a later date and some of the issues are still under discussion.
Jagow: Scott, you live in China. How do you react to hearing this report?
Tong: You don't see a blue sky very often in Shanghai, I can tell you that, and it's not fog. There's just a lot of industrial development in a lot of China. Beijing adds a thousand new cars on the roads per day. Now I do have to say that pollution is an issue that's not just a China issue. I mean, these particles don't just stop at the border, right? They've been known to have floated all the way over to the Western United States and the Western North America.
Jagow: Alright Scott Tong our correspondent in Shanghai, thanks so much.
Tong: OK, thanks Scott.