Most read stories of 2011

It was another big year for Greenpeace in East Asia. Air pollution was one topic that dominated the headlines in China, with the government finally deciding to begin implementation of PM2.5 in air quality readings. Readers were also delighted to read of the country's GE rice suspension, our documentation of an illegal chromium waste dump in Yunnan province, and a fond farewell to an old, seafaring friend.

10. Toxic heavy metals found in children's products on the Chinese market

Heavy metals in children's toys

Every day many Chinese citizens head into supermarkets and toy stores, and buy children's products without knowledge of what these products might contain. A Greenpeace-IPEN study measured toxic metals in 500 children's products purchased in five Chinese cities: Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Wuhan. The results showed that one-third of tested products contained at least one toxic metal at levels of concern.

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9. Chinese government demand coal companies begin to pay for bad air

Xuanwei Power Station in China

For years Greenpeace has been campaigning for Chinese coal powers to pay the true cost of its environmental and health effects. In September of this year China saw a step towards that direction as the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Environmental Protection announced a new emission standard for thermal power plants, for NOx and mercury, and a tightening of SO2 and soot standards.

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8. Banned pesticides detected on vegetables in Tesco and other supermarkets in China

Greenpeace campaigners head to Tesco HQ

Sometimes supermarket shopping in China means getting a little more than you bargained for. How about eggplant with a side of the banned pesticide methamidophos? That's what Greenpeace campaigners discovered earlier this year when they went undercover to test the presence of pesticides in the rice and fresh produce being sold in Lotus supermarkets across Shanghai and Wuhan. Banned pesticides were also discovered in produce from the global supermarket chain Tesco in their Beijing and Guangzhou stores, and Lianhua supermarkets (along with affiliate stores Hualian and Century Mart) across Shanghai, Wuhan and Hangzhou.

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7. China says "no" to the commercialization of GE rice?

Rice held by farmer in China

In September Greenpeace learned that the Chinese government would be taking a bold new step by halting the commercialization of GE rice. It's a move that we widely welcomed as the long-term effects of GE products on human health are still unknown. China's major financial weekly the Economic Observer had quoted an information source close to the Ministry of Agriculture that China has suspended the commercialization of genetically engineered (GE) rice.

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6. What does a 140,000 ton pile of dumped chromium waste look like?

Chromium waste investigation

Earlier this year a Greenpeace team headed to an area in Yunnan featuring a 140,000 ton illegally dumped chromium waste pile. They visited a spot that locals call "the dragon's fountain" - the mouth of an underground aquifer. Ever since a chemical company moved in the water, that was used to irrigate crops and as drinking water by the monks of the local temple, had turned a nasty colour. One farmer told Greenpeace on video that his last rice crop, located near the site, had failed.

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5. The Rainbow Warrior's farewell visit to Hong Kong

Rainbow Warrior farewell

At the beginning of the year the Rainbow Warrior II made her final visit to Hong Kong where Greenpeace East Asia campaigners were given an opportunity to bid farewell. Later in the year at a ceremony in Singapore the iconic protest vessel was transferred to Friendship, a Bangladesh based NGO which will refit it for use as a hospital ship. It would be the beginning of a new chapter for a vessel that's been with Greenpeace for 22 good years, traversing the world's oceans in defence of the environment. Find out more about the new Rainbow Warrior III.

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4. From Chinese Young Pioneer to Greenpeace activist: the story of Tom Wang

Tom Wang, Greenpeace campaigner

Greenpeace East Asia's Communications Director Tom Wang wrote a long and moving account of the huge economic and environmental changes that have transformed his country, and what impels him to fight for a better, greener future. "In the mid-1980s, the government started to build wide roads that went in front of our houses. Trucks came for the coal underneath the mountains surrounding our quiet town. My parents and their friends were excited, at first, with the new jobs. That didn't last long. The trucks carried coal to other parts of China, leaving behind dark coal dust and smelly and sticky smog. The coal mines emptied our mountains; the houses and temples on top of the mountains began collapsing. The power plants used so much water. Only five years later, the river went dry. The cement factories spread a grey shroud of dust over the town all year round."

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3. Real-time apps, twitters tracking air quality levels in your Chinese city

Air pollution in China

With the rise of China's middle class comes a demand for improved quality of life. So its little wonder air pollution is an ongoing 'hot topic' in Mainland China and Hong Kong. For those living in China, we've compiled a list of real-time updated air pollution tracking sites, micro-blogs and apps. They'll help you closely monitor the skies (and know to stay indoors on those 'crazy bad' days).

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2. Report: China Wind Power Outlook 2011

China Wind Power Outlook 2011

In our report China Wind Power Outlook 2011, Greenpeace asked experts and scholars from the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association to closely analyze the development of China's wind power sector in 2010. They analyzed policies and other trend indications related to wind power in the government's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011 to 2015).The report also provides recommendations on how to promote the industry's development.

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1. Japan's nuclear disaster pose low risk of radioactive exposure for China

Fukushima, Japan

In March we wrote a piece reassuring readers that the radioactive releases that had occurred thus far in Fukushima, Japan, were highly unlikely to be an immediate danger to China. Even in the worst-case scenario - a massive release of radiation resulting from a breach in the containment vessel surrounding the core or damage to the spent fuel - the relative risk to north China would be low.

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