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The Industrialization of China

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The Industrialization of China

Postby StlSluggers » Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:09 pm

The caption on the photo is only loosely related to the article, but I'm including it since Kyoto is such a hot topic. I'm not saying anything one way or the other. Just including it for completeness.

MSNBC.com wrote:Image
Up in Smoke: A factory in Changzhi, in northern China. A recent study named China the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter

July 16, 2007 issue - Wang Hai's phone won't stop buzzing. Everyone in China seems to want urgent help from the country's No. 1 consumer-rights advocate. He helps not only ordinary buyers of defective goods but whistle-blowers who risk their lives by outing unscrupulous firms. "A good system for guaranteeing quality control simply doesn't exist in China," says Wang, who has spent more than 10 years trying to clean up the Chinese marketplace. "Even confidential informants can wind up dead, under suspicious circumstances. I personally know of two."

Americans may suppose they have worries about Chinese products these days: killer pet food, antifreeze-laced toothpaste, lead-painted toy trains, unsafe tires, seafood contaminated with unapproved drugs and additives—the list keeps growing. Authorities in Panama announced recently that at least 93 people have died there since July 2006 from cough syrup containing Chinese-made diethylene glycol. But last week Chinese authorities pointed out that only 1 percent of foodstuff exported to the West failed to meet quality standards. By contrast, nearly 20 percent of domestically sold goods flunked. What the world should really be concerned about, says Asian Development Bank (ADB) economist Chris Spohr, "are the implications for food and product safety in [China] itself." Until attitudes change in China—among regulators, manufacturers and consumers alike—goods produced there will continue to be suspect everywhere.

Activists like Wang are badly outnumbered. Entrepreneurs across China are cashing in on murky regulation, rampant corruption and consumer ignorance. "The regime is particularly weak at regulating a cutthroat market economy with millions of private enterprises," says Wenran Jiang, a Sinologist at the University of Alberta. It's not unlike America in the age of the robber barons, more than a century ago. In 1906, ordinary Americans' outrage over unsafe medicines and foodstuffs—and books like Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," with its horrific portrait of Chicago's meatpacking industry—led to passage of the landmark Pure Food and Drug Act. Right now, though, most Chinese are busy earning a living.

And they're paying the price. At least 300 million Chinese are affected by food-borne illness every year, according to a recent report by the ADB and the World Health Organization, and mass poisonings by adulterated and mislabeled products recur constantly. Unsafe infant formula killed at least 50 babies three years ago and left 200 others severely malnourished, according to local media. The ADB/WHO report adds: "Despite stepped-up measures, a string of similar infant formula problems emerged in February 2006, indicating that systemic issues remain unresolved."

Chinese writer Zhou Qing has even produced a book that evokes "The Jungle." His "What Kind of God," a 2006 finalist for the Lettre Ulysses Award, tells of monstrous abuses: soy sauce bulked up with arsenic-tainted human hair; hormone-infused snack foods that grow facial hair on 6-year-old boys and breasts on 7-year-old girls; dangerous drugs fed to pigs to make their meat look better. Zhou's book concludes: "While cracking down on the immediate perpetrators of food-safety incidents, it's even more critical that we crack down on the officials who bear responsibility."

Bad publicity has forced Beijing to make at least a show of getting tough. Zheng Xiaoyu, the first head of China's State Food and Drug Administration, was sentenced to death in May for approving fake medicines in exchange for bribes. And at the factories whose chemical melamine was implicated in at least 16 U.S. pet deaths, two managers have been jailed. But Zhou remains skeptical. "Zheng Xiaoyu was [sentenced] because of America's dogs and Panama's cough syrup," he says. His book, which finally reached stores early this year, was edited heavily by its state-owned publishers and released with minimal fanfare.

Product-safety jitters will probably bypass at least a few export sectors. The chip industry, for one, is likely to remain unscathed, predicts Dan Heyler, a Merrill Lynch tech analyst in Hong Kong, since it's strictly supervised by the multinationals that dominate the field. But food, medicine and lower-end manufactured goods may need serious regulatory measures to win back the world's confidence. When NEWSWEEK asked his thoughts on "The Jungle," Zhou said he had never heard of the book. But, he added, it sounded like something he should read. The men who run China might also want to take a close look.
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby PlayingWithFire » Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:35 pm

When the per capita GDP(because I can't find per capita income) is under $8000, especially with the crapatistic rich/poor differences in China. There has always been a market for those lower end, potentially harmful food/drugs. Because simply put, a lot of people can't afford to get their medicine, toys, foods from the properest sources. China is on the edge of falling in to a recession soon(I didn't say it, lots of expert predicted it due to the un-sustainable growth that China has been through the past decade or so). I know it's not ethical and I wish everything is clean and all that. But I just don't know what type of impact having a tougher food/drug inspection policy will have on the Chinese economy. We could be talking about millions of people losing their jobs. Of course, most things gets worse before they get better. But for a country near some real economical struggle. Do you really want to risk it?

disclaimer: I'm not aware of ANY family member running anything related to food. I was a victim of food poisoning. No bias here, just understanding of the risk.
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby mbuser » Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:21 am

it's no small story that china is in serious upheaval right now. their environmental issues are near catastrophic levels and their upper and lower classes are worlds apart -- it is said that the largest migrant workforce in the world lives within china's borders. the people who farmed for generations in the country now can only find work (that pays) building the massive and ever-expanding metropolitan areas, of which they will likely never actually be a part of. and when it comes to checks and/or balances, china pretty much let the reins go everywhere with the all-encompassing goal of expanding the country's economy

Twenty of the world's 30 most polluted cities are in China, and every year more than 300,000 deaths there are attributed to pollution, according to the World Bank.

Much of that pollution comes from the coal-fired plants that produce about 70 percent of China's energy needs, compared with 50 percent for the United States and 16 percent for California.

But the problem in China is not just the amount of coal burned. Many of its plants and factories have inadequate pollution-control equipment, if any, and that is unlikely to change in coming years. Rising levels of sulfur dioxide from burning coal is causing acid rain.

Foul air is just one ingredient in China's stew of environmental problems. Seventy percent of the country's lakes and rivers are so polluted they would make humans sick. Every year, some 45 billion tons of industrial waste and raw sewage are dumped in rivers and lakes.

In late 2005, a chemical plant spill contaminated the Songhua River in northern China, forcing the city of Harbin to shut down its drinking water system. Earlier this month, more than a million residents of eastern China were left without drinking water when a fast-spreading, putrid-smelling green algae covered badly polluted Lake Tai.

The northern half of China is "drying out" as water tables fall, lakes vanish and rivers disappear, observed environmental analyst Lester Brown, founder of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. Much of the water in the southern half of China, meanwhile, is growing ever more polluted.

The land also suffers.

The government recently reported that 10 percent of farmland has been destroyed by pollution and that heavy metals contaminate 12 million tons of grain a year. Toxic food scares have become common in China and increasingly are a worry in the United States as food imports from China grow.

Rampant deforestation is expanding the country's deserts and contributing to disruptive spring sandstorms so big they have shown up on NASA satellite photos as giant blobs of brown passing over Asia and California. About 27 percent of China's land mass is now desert, or becoming desert.

The Gobi Desert in northern China expanded more than 20,000 square miles, about half the size of Pennsylvania, in just six years in the 1990s, Brown noted.

China also has become the electronic-waste garbage dump for the world. A recent report by the Beijing-based Science and Technology Daily, the official newspaper of the Ministry of Science and Technology, said most of the home electronics gadgets discarded by the developed world end up in China...

..."One hundred ninety-million Chinese are drinking water that is making them sick," observed Elizabeth Economy, director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of "The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future."

Growing health concerns from environmental calamities, such as industrial waste dumped into rivers that provide drinking water to rural communities, have triggered thousands of riots and protests across the countryside.

"It could undermine our social stability," said Ma Jun, a Beijing-based environmental crusader who heads the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. "The pollution is way beyond our environmental capacity, and it's increasing," he added.

Yet China's growing middle class -- estimated to be about 125 million -- wants the kind of lifestyle enjoyed by those in the car-loving West. That is evident on Beijing's wide streets and in auto dealerships that dot the city. China is now the world's second-largest market for automobiles, and the third-largest car producer.

Every year, about 300,000 new vehicles hit Beijing's streets, adding to the nearly 3 million already crowding the city.

"Money is no problem," said car shopper Zhang Qiang, 23, who had grown tired of his one-year-old Buick and was ready for a new set of wheels.

Chinese such as Zhang want to live like middle-class Americans, said Douglas Ogden, director of the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation's China Sustainable Energy Program. But he warned that if China reaches current American levels of consumption, it will be disastrous for the planet.

"If each Chinese were to consume the same amount of energy as the average American does, China would be adding 150 percent more carbon dioxides into the atmosphere than does the rest of the world," he said. "The clock is ticking. We are getting to five minutes before midnight."

http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_6168712?source=rss

i saw a really fascinating frontline presentation about china a while back. you can actually view it in it's entirety here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tankman/view/
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby Field » Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:44 am

Stuff like this honestly makes me uneasy. I really wish the government had listened to Al Gore and others decades ago. Over-population and globalization spells doom for the environment. Hopefully we can take care of the global warming issue like we did with the Ozone Layer. It just seems like a much greater task given the rapid industralization occuring around the world.

Let's hope we all turn things around and keep those ice caps frozen.

I'm glad the U.N is taking the lead on this one :-t . What a waste of time and money :-t .
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby PlayingWithFire » Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:02 am

Field wrote:Stuff like this honestly makes me uneasy. I really wish the government had listened to Al Gore and others decades ago. Over-population and globalization spells doom for the environment. Hopefully we can take care of the global warming issue like we did with the Ozone Layer. It just seems like a much greater task given the rapid industralization occuring around the world.

Let's hope we all turn things around and keep those ice caps frozen.

I'm glad the U.N is taking the lead on this one :-t . What a waste of time and money :-t .


Something made me think you didn't read the story :-D
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby Field » Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:11 am

PlayingWithFire wrote:
Field wrote:Stuff like this honestly makes me uneasy. I really wish the government had listened to Al Gore and others decades ago. Over-population and globalization spells doom for the environment. Hopefully we can take care of the global warming issue like we did with the Ozone Layer. It just seems like a much greater task given the rapid industralization occuring around the world.

Let's hope we all turn things around and keep those ice caps frozen.

I'm glad the U.N is taking the lead on this one :-t . What a waste of time and money :-t .


Something made me think you didn't read the story :-D


I was referring to the second one posted by mbuser.
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby PlayingWithFire » Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:59 am

Field wrote:
PlayingWithFire wrote:
Field wrote:Stuff like this honestly makes me uneasy. I really wish the government had listened to Al Gore and others decades ago. Over-population and globalization spells doom for the environment. Hopefully we can take care of the global warming issue like we did with the Ozone Layer. It just seems like a much greater task given the rapid industralization occuring around the world.

Let's hope we all turn things around and keep those ice caps frozen.

I'm glad the U.N is taking the lead on this one :-t . What a waste of time and money :-t .


Something made me think you didn't read the story :-D


I was referring to the second one posted by mbuser.


!+) sorry
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby Coppermine » Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:24 am

I thought this was the big story from China:

AP wrote:BEIJING - China executed the former head of its food and drug watchdog on Tuesday for approving untested medicine in exchange for cash, the strongest signal yet from Beijing that it is serious about tackling its product safety crisis.
During Zheng Xiaoyu's tenure as head of the State Food and Drug Administration from 1997 to 2006, the agency approved six medicines that turned out to be fake, and the drug makers used falsified documents to apply for approvals, according to previous state media reports. One antibiotic caused the deaths of at least 10 people.
His execution was confirmed by state television and Xinhua News Agency.
''The few corrupt officials of the SFDA are the shame of the whole system and their scandals have revealed some very serious problems,'' agency spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said at a news conference held to highlight efforts to improve China's track record on food and drug safety.
But by the looks of China's ever-expanding trade surplus, the world is not ready to wean itself from its dependency on Chinese products, despite reports of tainted toothpaste, fish laced with antibiotics, tires missing a key safety feature and toys with lead paint.


This seems extreme... even for China. But what does it really mean? That China is crazy-ass, or that they're serious about their country's ubiquitous "Made in China" label being synonymous for crappy, low-quality and even dangerous consumer goods?
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby StlSluggers » Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:36 am

Coppermine wrote:This seems extreme... even for China. But what does it really mean? That China is crazy-ass, or that they're serious about their country's ubiquitous "Made in China" label being synonymous for crappy, low-quality and even dangerous consumer goods?
I saw that story yesterday, and I was confused, too. Good or bad? :-?
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Re: The Industrialization of China

Postby mbuser » Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:41 pm

lets just say the gov't in china doesn't take being cast in a poor light... lightly. i think it is about saving face as much as it is looking out for the welfare of the people

one interesting tidbit from that frontline special -- they are huge informations censors, both coming in and going out of the country. thanks in large part to that censorship, students from the same university as the students who were the largest part of the protests in 1989 have no idea what the context for this pic was:
Image
one student even asked if it was a manipulated image meant to be art

do a google image search of 'tiananmen square' and take note of what you see. do that same search in china, and you won't see one single image of 'the tank man'

western companies like google, yahoo, and cisco have been among the largest enablers of gov't censorship, providing them with the technology to do so (in cisco's case with the specific intent to make tracking potential 'problem citizens' easier). when called to capitol hill, the company spokespeople all said it was a 'tough' decision to agree to the gov't demands just so that they could make untold millions of dollars by tapping into the massive new market. (on one hand, however, i do see that some freedom of information is better than no freedom of information at all)
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