The report, produced over several years in co-operation with China's State Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and health ministry found about 350,000 - 400,000 people died prematurely each year from high air-pollution levels.
A further 300,000 people are thought to be killed by exposure to poor air indoors and another 60,000 deaths were attributed to poor water quality, largely in the countryside leading to severs diarrhoea and stomach, liver and bladder cancers.
China's State Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and health ministry asked the World Bank to cut the calculations of premature deaths from the report called the "Cost of Pollution in China" when a draft was finished last year, according to Bank advisers and Chinese officials.
Advisers to the research team said ministries told them this information, including a detailed map showing which parts of the country suffered the most deaths, was too sensitive.
"The World Bank was told that it could not publish this information. It was too sensitive and could cause social unrest," one adviser to the study told the Financial Times.As was recently reported in the Ecologist environmental protests are becoming more frequent and strident in China. The country has, according to World Bank research, sixteen of the twenty worst polluted cities in the world and even Sepa admits to a case of water pollution every two to three days.
The mortality information was "reluctantly" excised by the World Bank from the published report, according to advisers to the research project.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist July 2007