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Historically, rapid growth has produced environmental destruction. China is no exception. Because of its huge and growing population, 20 years of over nine per cent per annum growth, a history of neglect and adverse geography, China faces crises. Floods devastate in the south while droughts afflict the north. One in three of China's rural people lacks safe drinking water. China suffers air pollution, deforestation, loss of grasslands, and species, erosion, encroaching desert, acid rain, dust storms that engulf cities such as Beijing and can carry far abroad. It has 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. Environmental degradation grows and China's development is threatened by it. Water shortages have hit industries and factories have been shut by energy crises. The costs of cleaning up the environment will grow still greater if prompt and effective action is not taken. China's government recognises these problems and developed laws and institutions to protect the environment, but at grassroots level they fail to be implemented because local governments value short-term gains in growth and jobs over a better environment. The international community can help, but only China can deal with the problems.