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Dark clouds

A thick layer of grey ash covers the surface of the roads leading to an industrial site. The air in the city is acrid and thick. Steel plants, coking plants and cement factories loom out of the haze and disappear once more as one travels beyond the city. Further out into the mountains, there are sounds of explosions as workers use dynamite to extract limestone from a mountain for the steel plants. In another valley not too far away miners go deep down into a mining shaft in the early hours of the morning.

China's economy is exploding and behind the scenes of this economic miracle is the industrial revolution powered by the cheap labour that is helping to build and sustain the economy. Coal for power, coal for steel, coal for cement. Coal and labour are the raw materials, the flip side and the dark side of this economic juggernaut that is China. But it comes at a heavy price for the country's environment and its people's health. And now that is has overtaken the US as the biggest producer of carbon dioxide, China's emission levels will increase anxiety about its role in driving man-made global warming and will add to pressure on the world's politicians to reach an agreement on climate change that includes the Chinese economy.

This is a journey into some of China's most industrialised cities, a journey to the other side of the bright shiny facade that is the economy. It is a glimpse of another life and another world that is rarely seen.

View the multimedia presentation here.
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