China must sharply improve environmental protection or it could face disaster following two decades of breakneck growth that have poisoned its air, water and soil, the country's top environmental official warned Saturday. The director of the State Environmental Protection Administration said that more than half of China's 21,000 chemical companies are near the Yangtze and Yellow rivers - drinking water for tens of millions of people - and accidents could lead to "disastrous consequences."
"Facts have proved that prosperity at the expense of the environment is very superficial and very weak," Zhou Shengxian said at a news conference during the annual meeting of China's parliament. "It's only delaying disaster."
China's cities are among the world's smoggiest and the government says its major rivers are badly polluted, leaving hundreds of millions of people without enough clean drinking water. Protests have erupted throughout the country over farmers' complaints that uncontrolled factory discharges are ruining crops and poisoning water...
China could face environmental disaster