Who cares about high-speed trains, mammoth real estate projects, and giant leaps in standards of living if, after 40 years of explosive growth, the Chinese government can't provide the most basic element of human existence: clean air. Like any real crisis, this one is unexpected, and to my mind it has become Xi's first real test as a global leader. The stakes couldn't be higher, because if he doesn't turn this problem around in short order, it will undermine the Chinese economy and could quickly spark the ultimate Chinese government nightmare, civil unrest. Obviously the implications here are global.
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