4 Things to Read About China A big, exciting country — with serious problems. James Fallows Apr 3 2013

Yan Lianke, in the NYT, on “China’s State-Sponsored Amnesia.” Sample: [Widespread Chinese ignorance of the “June 4 1989 episode”] reminded me of something another teacher told me. She had asked her students from China if they had heard about the death by starvation of 30 to 40 million people during the so-called “three years of natural disasters” in the early 1960s. Her students responded with stunned silence, as if she, a teacher in Hong Kong, was brazenly fabricating history to attack their mother country.

2) Christina Larson, in Bloomberg Businessweek, about new evidence on the birth-defect epidemic being caused by pollution in China. Sample: In the U.S., for every 10,000 live births, there are 7.5 infants with neural tube defects. In Shanxi province, that number is 18 times higher: 140 infants…. Over a 10-year period, the researchers gathered placentas from 80 stillborn or newborn infants in Shanxi with the disorder. Based on their analysis, they confirmed that those infants had been exposed in utero to significant levels of pesticides, industrial solvents, and especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are released into the air when fossil fuels are burned.

3) A Chinese language report saying that as many as 15 percent of overall recent deaths in China may be due to pollution; to similar effect in the NYT.

4) A Xinhua report saying that March in Beijing — when we were there — was the smoggiest in modern history. And this is without even getting into the dead pigs, the new cases of “bird flu,” etc. China is a big, exciting country. But it has very serious problems, and different problems from those in the Western world just now. __