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China enjoys economic growth at high environm -

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China enjoys economic growth at high environmental cost

Reporter: John Taylor

TONY JONES: China continues to enjoy breakneck economic growth but it's coming at an enormous cost.

Air pollution is a problem in hundreds of cities and acid rain now falls across two-thirds of the

Long stretches of the major waterways are so polluted all marine life has died.

While there is increasing official recognition of the cost of China's development, it's coming too
late for some of the nation's poorest people.

China correspondent John Taylor travelled to central China's Henan province to file this report.

JOHN TAYLOR: Sometimes companionship is all people have.

38-year-old Liu Yuzhi is desperately ill.

The family is too poor to see a doctor and she is steadily getting worse.

LIU YUZHI, FARMER: TRANSLATION: I feel so painful every day.

Don't feel comfortable.

I have to use my hands to massage myself.

I want to cry.

I want to cry all the time.

JOHN TAYLOR: Prayer gives some comfort.

But she's not the only sick person in Huangmengying village.

number of deaths has surpassed 240, the number of cancer deaths alone is 115.

For these 115 people they died of stomach cancers, liver cancers, lung cancers or rectal cancers.

JOHN TAYLOR: The WHO says it's clear environmental pollution is hurting many Chinese.

BOB DIETZ, WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION: There do seem to be areas where specific diseases are more
common and we have to make the assumption that that's related to the environmental pollution.

JOHN TAYLOR: A short distance away from Huangmengying village, an MSG factory spews out
foul-smelling waste water.

Photographer turned environmentalist Huo Daishan watches on.

He has brought the pollution of the Huai River basin and the suffering of nearby people to national

HUO DAISHAN, HUAI RIVER PROTECTORS: TRANSLATION: If there's no attention, then the problem will get
more and more serious and has several implications.

Up till now we've spotted several tumour villages which are dispersed throughout the area.

JOHN TAYLOR: This is a tributary of the Huai River, China's third largest, and infamous for its

Despite a highly publicised 10-year clean-up effort and billions of dollars spent officials can see
it remains as filthy as ever.

There is a growing official awareness of China's environmental woes.

Soon, a number of provincial Governments will test an experimental green GDP framework which takes
into account environmental damage.

green GDP system.

Otherwise, the concept for broad, balanced and continuous development can't be achieved.

The economic development will bring three overs -- overpollution, overdischarge and

JOHN TAYLOR: This woman has rectal cancer and has undergone surgery many times.

But she remains in poor health and worries for her children's future.

KONG HEGIN, FARMER: TRANSLATION: If they are thirsty and they want to drink water, I will boil the

I will try to ask them not to drink it.

I will not allow them to eat raw food.

I am scared.

JOHN TAYLOR: Change is coming to Huangmengying village.

Authorities have sunk deeper wells and an American NGO has donated hundreds of water purifiers.

Technicians from Shanghai demonstrate how to set up the water purifiers as an inquiring crowd
watches on.

The task is involved, but not hard.

Once finished, clean cups are especially brought in for the final taste test.

And the difference is obvious.

"This one is very good, that one is not good for drinking," she says.

The simple things make all the difference.

John Taylor, Lateline.

(c) 2006 ABC