As the end of summer brings less-bad weather to much of China, it is also heralding the arrival of less-bad trade figures. Those watching for signs of a global recovery may be encouraged by September’s trade numbers, which showed China’s exports declining by their slowest rate in nine months in September. Exports shrank by 15.2% from September last year, compared with a 23.4% fall in August. Although year-on-year figures may be somewhat misleading in this case – the global economic crisis was certainly more advanced in September last year than in August – it’s certainly not a bad trend. More worrying is China’s ongoing problem with steel overcapacity, which has pushed Beijing to work on detailed plans to cut production and boost consolidation. It will be interesting to see if these will be any more effective than those that have gone before (best-laid schemes and all that). Indeed, progress in enforcement of regulations set out by the Ministry of Environmental Protection has not been encouraging. At least 18 major foreign and domestic companies failed to comply with pollution disclosure rules, and local officials failed to reprimand them. With such lax attention paid to environmental issues, it’s sad, but unsurprising, that more and more Chinese citizens are falling victim to industrial pollution. In Henan, nearly 1,000 children living near smelters have been found to have excessive levels of lead in their blood.