One of China's biggest problems with pollution has been the fact that the ministry responsible for the control had no power.
Just recently a super ministry was put together to centralise the control of environmental issues. It might work, but there are a lot of vested interests in the provinces who will still be able to circumvent the new laws.
China is very good at making new laws but has a very poor record of enforcing them. Plus there are many factions within the political system in China who will block moves for cleaning up, not because they are bad but because it is a way of showing their power and keeping their provincial power base.
Vehicle pollution in the cities is very bad. Though the Chinese govt introduced emission testing for petrol fueled cars about 4 years ago it did nothing to control the emissions from deisal engines. There is no clean deisal in China. There are winter and summer grades and both are dirty. Huge amounts of goods are transported by large trucks belching black fumes.
Car ownership has risen massively in China, but the no. or cars per head of population is still very very low, which means the problem can only get worse.
Shanghai has a population of 16m (official) and probably more like 24m unofficial. When I first arrived in Shanghai few homes had air conditioning, it was unaffordable. Today it is a different story. Nearly every house or apartment has at least one unit. Work on an average of 5-7Kw per unit, multiply that by lets say 10m houses and apartments and you can see the power problem. And that is only Shanghai.
There are regular brown outs summer and winter due to power shortages in Shanghai. The 3 Gorges is meant to be the answer, but that is at an even bigger environmental cost.
Water is in short supply, I think the last figures I saw where that only 5 rivers in China produce potable water. The rest are polluted.
They built a new sewage works in Shanghai. It opened to much fanfare, it now runs only intermittent because it cannot afford the power bills. Water bills are well below the actual cost of producing water, the tarrifs are set by the Govt. So though it can collect money, the money collected does not cover the running costs.
Shanghai is probably less polluted than Beijing and that is not saying much...