By Eddy Montilla.
In China, there are two Great Walls: The first one is a World Heritage Site, well known and admired by people all around the world, but the second one, “The Great Wall of Pollution and Poverty”, quite the opposite, does not attract tourists or yield profits, and that’s why this problem is sometimes hidden and sometimes looked on indifferently.
China reported that nearly 60 percent of its groundwater is polluted. In some areas, the level of pollution is so high that not even after proper treatment, the water can be considered potable. Millions of Chinese people don’t have job or earn paltry wages. If they cannot put food over their table or drink tap water, then, it is impossible to imagine that they can find money to buy a bottle of water at a store. Are all these people condemned to live in poverty and also condemned to drink contaminated water?
Big cities in China are full of luxury goods and many people live in luxury there. These cities, filled with lights, are fascinating. But during the day, especially in winter, people have to wear air pollution masks because smog has reached alarming levels, smog caused by coal-burning power plants, vehicle exhaust and factory emissions and every time people go out, they are dying slowly but progressively. Near China’s big cities and their entire splendor, we can also see the other side of the coin: Over-exploitation of natural resources, exploitation of workers and environmental degradation. To some extent, these negative aspects have been used as means of support for the country’s economic growth during many years.
Since the eighties, China has grown steadier than any country. However, those who benefited most from China’s growth are only a handful of Chinese magnates who usually amass a large fortune, send their children abroad, take the money out of their country and buy properties in Canada or USA while the vast majority of Chinese people can only see Beijing’s restaurants on TV. This is the result of social and economic inequality in China. If Confucius and other great Chinese thinkers could come and see today’s China, it is hard to imagine how they would react. They might say: “We left a wonderful legacy of principles. Where did we fail?”
This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion with Eddy Montilla.
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