- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

China’s Air Pollution Problems


In January 2014, NBR published a two-part interview with Daniel K. Gardner (Smith College) titled “China’s Off-the-Chart Air Pollution and Why It Matters (And Not Only to the Chinese).” The interview touched on a number of issues related not just to pollution and environmental quality in general but also to trade, technology, and quality of life in China, other parts of East Asia, and even the United States.

For this roundtable, NBR asked several who work on China and its environmental problems to comment further on the issues raised by Professor Gardner. Participants in this roundtable include Stevan Harrell (University of Washington), Isabel Hilton (, and Bryan Tilt (Oregon State University).

Download all three essays in PDF format or access them online below.

1. China’s International Air Pollution: Is the United States Part of the Problem?

    By Stevan Harrell

2. Addressing the Gap between Rhetoric and Reality in China’s Air Pollution Control:
    Why Civil Society Is Essential

    By Isabel Hilton

3. Hydropower as an Alternative Energy Source in China: Costs and Benefits

    By Bryan Tilt

This roundtable was organized by Claire Topal, Senior Advisor for International Health at NBR, for the Center for Health and Aging.

In part one of a two-part interview, Daniel K. Gardner, (Smith College) discussed the seriousness of China’s air pollution, the health implications for the Chinese people, the impact on the country’s economy, and the influence of domestic environmental NGOs. Read Part One.

In part two of the interview, Professor Gardner explains how the Chinese government has responded to the country’s air pollution crisis and what challenges it will face in implementing policies and measures developed to address the problem. He also discusses the impact of China’s air pollution not only on its Asian neighbors but also on the United States. Read Part Two.