The chart below drawn from research by Pew highlights which issues are of most concern to Chinese citizens, and which have increased most in importance over the previous year’s survey. In addition to the expected priority given to air pollution, it was interesting to see water pollution moving up so fast.
Historically, certainly there has been little faith in the quality of tap water, even though it is a long time since travelers were recommended to wash their teeth using beer rather than tap water. Consumption of bottled distilled water in urban areas continued to grow robustly at 16% annually over the last 5 years to reach more than US$13 billion in 2013.
It is more surprising to see the large one year increase in concern over water pollution. I suppose that it is driven by people extrapolating from public incidents of industrial pollution poisoning rivers to a fear that incidents have or could occur closer to home without receiving timely publicity.
I look forward to seeing the 2014 snapshot.