Choking on Growth

Left to right: Michael Zhao and Susan Chira (Elsa Ruiz/Asia Society)

Co-sponsored by the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations

NEW YORK, March 27, 2008 - Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society’s Policy Programs, and the Council on Foreign Relations jointly hosted journalists from the New York Times for a discussion of the newspaper’s groundbreaking series on China’s environmental challenges, “Choking on Growth.”

In the accompanying audio, Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira and Joseph Kahn, the paper's deputy foreign editor and former Beijing bureau chief, discuss the overall pessimism of the series and China’s increasingly bleak environmental prospects.

As Kahn notes, the Chinese government and foreign observers were once confident that China would be able to have pollution under control in time for the 2008 Olympic Games. Now, the government is quickly running out of time, solutions are not materializing, and the international community is losing hope.

In China, a nation where politicians have never doubted the science behind global warming, the issues are far more tangible. Asked whether the Chinese people understand global warming, multimedia producer and former Times reporting assistant Michael Zhao of the Asia Society comments, “On the [Tibetan] plateau people are feeling it.... They are seeing the disruptive weather patterns... but they don’t connect real life with the term ‘global warming.’ Global warming has already affected a lot of their lives. The quality of the grass is dropping and the glaciers are melting much faster than the last 300 years."

Kahn, Chira, and Zhao delve into the difficulties faced by the foreign media in China, the work of Chinese civil society and NGO groups, and the effects of Chinese environmental policy on the rest of Asia and the world.

Susan Chira, Foreign Editor, the New York Times
Joseph Kahn, Deputy Foreign Editor, the New York Times
Michael Zhao, Asia Society Center for US-China Relations

Elizabeth Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Asia Society Center on US-China Relations

Listen on Demand (1 hr., 24 min.)