The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that severe drought was threatening China’s wheat crop and resulting in shortages of drinking water for people and livestock, The New York Times said. Any move by China, which has essentially been self-sufficient in grain for decades, to import large quantities of food could drive international prices even higher than recent record levels.
China must speed up resource-tax reforms to fight heavy pollution and also make a priority of energy-saving to stave off “risky” dependence on foreign supplies, vice premier Li Keqiang said in remarks cited by Reuters. But, Li added, the country will not be able to wean itself from its dependence on coal.
Still, hopes for a cleaner future are rising ahead of a national blueprint to tackle pollution and waste and to champion renewable technology, The Guardian reported. China’s next five-year plan, due in March, is being hailed as the greenest strategy document in its history. Sceptics warn, though, of a new threat: excess consumption.
Measures instituted in Beijing to control air pollution for the 2008 Olympics, if continued, could halve the risk of lung cancer for residents, United Press International cited research by Chinese and US universities as showing. The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
A Greenpeace report has called on China’s textile industry to clean up its processes after finding high levels of pollution in the southern industrial towns of Xintang and Gurao, according to The Guardian. The report said the pollution is emblematic of Chinese textile manufacturing.
Competition between China and Brazil has created conditions favourable for exploiting the hydroelectric-energy potential of Latin America’s rivers, Tierramérica reported. Both countries have surplus capital and construction companies specialising in major projects, though their presence also fuels nationalist stances that add to environmental criticisms of those projects.
A decade ago, according to The Guardian, there were probably no more than 100,000 Chinese people working in Africa. Today, around one million lead a trade boom on the continent. China-Africa trade is estimated to have exceeded US$100 billion in 2010 as Beijing provides huge grants and loans to African governments to secure raw-materials deals or to finance infrastructure projects that could benefit its companies.
As China’s poor head for the cities in search of work and wealth, they are leaving 58 million children behind, The Financial Times said. This amounts to nearly one-fifth of the country’s children and almost half of all those in the countryside. Practical difficulties abound within the unprecedented social experiment.
If Beijing can make its suburbs work, the city could join London and New York as a major global hub, according to a Tsinghua University student writing in The Atlantic. If it can’t keep the economy growing and tame the traffic, however, the city could end up with suburban slums rivalling Rio de Janeiro or Mexico City.
Prepared in cooperation with PACE
China’s ‘new silk roads’ will have huge environmental consequences in Asia and Africa as giant infrastructure projects open up remote areas and build links reaching as far as Europe