Tuesday, July 17, 2007

China and the Environment

Chinese products have been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. Ralph Nader spoke about this on CNN recently.

Environmental practices in China have been facing increased scrutiny as well. The writers at Globalisation and the Environment have done extensive reporting on the intersection between Chinese economic and environmental practices. Recently reports surfaced that Chinese government officials convinced the authors of a World Bank report to remove damaging information on Chinese environmental practices. Now, the Chinese government are saying the World Bank report is "not very reliable".

China is a rapidly developing economy and new administrative institutions are being developed to keep up with the growth. I'm not suggesting they have an excuse to pollute recklessly and sell contaminated toothpaste but if we can't inspect everything for safety how could we expect them to do so? I also don't think "developed" economies have an exemplary environmental record to parade around with. If we weren't buying cheap Chinese products they probably wouldn't have as many environmental problems. Again I repeat that I am not making excuses for the Chinese. Just in case somebody wanted to call me a communist or something. I think we need to consider the pace of Chinese economic development relative to the institutions they have to manage the economy. We also need to consider whether our economic relationship with/dependence on China is worth the environmental degradation.

1 comment:

M.S. said...

Well said. I saw a recent report on the news regarding imported food into the USA. Scary stuff...the majority of the food that comes in is not checked for quality or possible contaminants that could pose health risks to the rest of us.

I say, the heck with imported foods from countries who lack laws regulating the use of harmful chemicals/substances that go into the food supply. Grow your own (when possible) eat organic and buy local produce! And for the sake of your health...live without the rest of the garbage out there!!!