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some things that the U.S. once lead in but seems china is more then happy to tak
#1 spot for destroying the earth. doesn't look like they learned to much from the bad aspects of americans to me. this was taken from another post i can get the link if needed. |
"The coming slowdown in the Chinese economy should be viewed as a global event," warned chief Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach. "There is good reason to believe that the impacts of a sharp slowdown in the Chinese investment cycle could spread well beyond Asia."
For better or worse, every ripple from this giant economy, which is driven by the fast-expanding needs of 1.3 billion consumers, can now be felt across the world. Without China, even the mighty US could not run its huge trade and budget deficits. China is the world's second largest buyer of US government debt, as it recycles a $124bn trade surplus with the United States. No less significantly, the country's frenetic construction boom is driving up world prices of nearly every commodity, while large-scale foreign investment is powering a flood of exports which is bringing down global prices for manufactured goods.
Officially, China represents less than 4 per cent of the world's economy. But its spectacular rate of industrial production - which grew by 16.3 per cent last year alone - is making its effects felt all over the world. Last year, China accounted for 7 per cent of global oil consumption, 27 per cent of steel, 31 per cent of coal and 40 per cent of cement. And its appetite for raw materials has been growing for years.
Optimists are busy making plans on how to make money by satisfying China's growing demand for timber, iron ore, copper, grain, water, power, fish, meat, cars and everything else.
Others fear the environmental consequences of unconstrained growth. Last year, China added 1.8 million cars to its roads, bringing the total to over 10 million. At recent growth rates, the number of cars could double every three to four years.
The world's top carmakers are rushing to build new factories in China. Volkswagen announced last weekend plans for a new plant in China to help it ramp up output to 1.6 million vehicles there by 2008. DaimlerChrysler has just signed a €1bn contract to build a Mercedes-Benz car factory in Beijing in the hope that current annual demand for 12,000 of the top models will soon double.
Yet were car ownership rates ever to match those in the United States (135 million for a population of 270 million in 2002), then there would be about 600m vehicles on China's roads, more than all the cars in the world today.
China's own environmental record is so lamentable that if it were ever to import Western consumer habits, we might all suffer the consequences. Imagine, for example, what would happen if coal production were to double. China relies on coal for 75 per cent of its energy and already spews out 19 million tons of sulphur dioxide a year, compared with 11 million tons for the United States. It would soon rival the US as the world's largest source of greenhouse gases - although as a "developing nation" China is exempted by the Kyoto treaty from cutting its carbon dioxide emissions. The implications for global warming hardly bear thinking about.
Environmentalists point out that China's "ecological footprint", though large and increasing, is considerably less per head than that of either the US or the UK. Even now, however, the inhabitants of roughly two-thirds of the 340 Chinese cities, where air quality is monitored, breathe air that fails to meet national air-quality levels (which are considerably less stringent than World Health Organisation norms). Indoor pollution from coal burning takes more than 700,000 lives a year.
Then there is water. Two thirds of China's major cities are now seriously short of fresh water, and as many as 700 million people drink water that is contaminated with human and animal waste and that doesn't come close to meeting government standards (also below world norms).
Most lakes and rivers are now heavily polluted; coastal waters are plagued by red tides of algae. Fishing stocks are so exhausted that Beijing has had to impose ever longer fishing moratoriums and to try to cut the size of its fishing fleet.
But it isn't just China that suffers. The North China plain, home to 200 million peasants who used to grow half of China's wheat, is drying up. The spring dust storms which swirl out of North China and Mongolia are now depositing dust as far away as the US.
As the water table falls, large areas of farmland will be taken out of production and China will soon need food imports so large they will dwarf existing world reserves. Wheat production has been falling in China since 2000, and its once massive stockpiles of wheat and corn have disappeared. World food prices are bound to rise as a result, causing hardship for the 800 million people around the world who are already short of food.
China has so far succeeded only in exporting its environmental problems. When a national logging ban was introduced following disastrous Yangtze floods in 1998, timber imports from Burma, Thailand, Laos and Indonesia shot up. Imports from Burma reached 1 million cubic metres in 2002 and, according to the environmental organisation Global Witness, may have reached 1.4 million cubic metres in 2003. As a result, hundreds of square miles of ancient tropical forests in Burma have disappeared.
South-east Asia is also reeling under the impact of China's plans to build dozens of new giant dams across the Mekong, the Salween, the Irrawaddy, and the Brahmaputra. The Mekong River Commission, an international body representing Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, made official protests this year because the 4,500km-long river has seen record low flows since January and strange and unprecedented fluctuations in levels. China's construction of two large hydroelectric dams - the Manwan and Dachaoshan - is blamed. Two more dams are under construction, while at least another four are being planned.
After protests in Thailand and Burma against plans to build 13 hydro-power dams on the Salween River, China ordered one of the dams to be cancelled. Sooner or later, however, all China's rivers will be completely dammed. To keep its economy expanding, China needs some 800 million to 900 million kilowatts of electricity a year. Yet it currently generates just 350 million kilowatts.
In the past four years, China has gone from a surplus of energy to a deficit so serious that even cities like Shanghai have had to start rationing electricity. From being nearly self-sufficient in oil ten years ago, China is now the world's second biggest oil importer - and is on the verge of needing massive coal imports as well.
China is likely to realise plans to triple installed hydroelectric capacity to 270,000 megawatts by 2020: 28 large-scale hydropower projects are now being built, adding to 835 existing large hydropower plants. Many are in the central Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces where power outages were frequent last year.
Yet China's growing needs are also creating a boom for its neighbours. Many are now busy investing in giant gas fields or long oil pipelines to satisfy demand. Kazakhstan has said it will start building a 3,000km oil pipeline to China from the Caspian Sea later this year.
Moscow will soon declare a decision on a pipeline to carry up to 20 million tons of oil each year from Siberia to China. And most of Angola's oil exports now go to China.
Chinese oil companies are planning big investments in the Persian Gulf, while this year China National Offshore Oil Corp bought Indonesian offshore reserves from Spain's Repsol YPF for $585m. To provide more natural gas, China has turned to Australia. In 2002, an Australian-led consortium and an Indonesian gas field operated by Britain's BP won contracts to supply China with liquefied natural gas (LNG). This year ALNG, a consortium led by Australian energy giant Woodside, won a 25-year deal worth up to $13.5bn to supply an LNG terminal in China's Guangdong province while Indonesia will supply LNG for a proposed second terminal.