Worth Reading: ChinaFile Discussion on 'Airpocalypse'

Guomao.jpg-jpgChinaFile is a new venture by the Asia Society, for which the Atlantic will be a partner and to which I will be one of many contributors.

The discussion today genuinely is worth noticing. It's about the reasons for, and likely consequences of, the "Airpocalypse" that is now evident through so many big Chinese cities. For reference: That's our old neighborhood in Beijing, in a picture shot from a 30th floor window last week.


The long introductory post by Alex Wang, whom I knew in Beijing when he represented the Natural Resources Defense Council there, and who is now at UC Berkeley, sets out all the reasons why the current emergency matters for China and the rest of the world. Other contributors elaborate on some of the even worse ramifications, and possible responses.

As I argued last month -- here, here, and here -- the nearly unendurable conditions that Chinese growth has brought to many Chinese people represent a kind of challenge that the system and its leaders have not reckoned with before. Apart, of course, from the effects on the rest of the world. I think you'll find this discussion valuable and clarifying, if not exactly encouraging. (I have a cameo entry at the end, saying essentially what I've just said here.)

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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