Grist Mill approvingly quotes Chinese researcher Pang Zhongying‘s essay yesterday in the China Daily, which in its broad strokes copies the Chinese government’s official position that climate change is a very serious problem that it’s not China’s responsibility to address.
You see, even though it’s China where the factories are, and the dirty coal plants feeding them electricity, this whole thing is the West’s fault.
A fact we must remember is that Western countries and industrialized Asian nations like Japan and the Republic of Korea have moved many of their factories to developing countries such as China and India, where cheap labor allows them to manufacture at lower costs than at home. This globalization of production has resulted in the discharge of much more waste in poor nations that otherwise would have been released in developed countries. As a matter of fact, not all of the greenhouse gases released “in China” or “from China” are really “China’s”.
I’m just baffled by this line of reasoning. I’m certainly for putting as much power — and responsibility — in the hands of the consumer, but nobody has forced China’s many state-owned companies to take on all this environmentally unsound business, or to work in such an environmentally unsound way. These economic exchanges wouldn’t happen without a willing supplier.
China’s major advantage is cheap labour, not its lax environmental rules; if the government that runs its still heavily controlled economy wanted to toughen up on greenhouse-gas emissions, it could be done within a year.
Indeed, not only does Pang argue that China’s greenhouse gases are largely the responsibility of the West because of our trade arrangements, but so are yet other countries’:
With a population of only one-fifth of China’s, the United States is the top consumer of natural resources and the leading waste producer in the world. It has benefited the most from economic globalization and developed a production style and life-style based on indiscriminate and care-free consumption of the world’s resources. This “American” production style and lifestyle have spread to the rest of the world, thanks to globalization, like a contagious disease, especially in the non-Western world: Go to any non-Western corner of the world and one will see copied, cloned or even blown-up versions of the American style.
This is written as if “globalization” were a force unto itself, and as if “production style and lifestyle” spread on their own, without anybody else deciding to adopt them. It utterly denies the role of human agency in these decisions. Which might be expected from a state with its roots in as determinist a philosophy as Marxism, but is still bunk.