China: Importers need to share blame for emissions


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So typically Chinese.

We are making money, exploiting our workers with low pay and horrible conditions and we are polluting the planet. Oh.....and by the way, its not our fault.

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archiebald - you are completely missing the point.

One of the main reasons Chinia is such a large emitter of CO2 is becuase its factories are producing product for overseas customers.

Rich countries are in effect exporting their pollution to China and Chinese people are paying for it with cancers, other diseases and polluted groundwater and food.

Just think - if the factories producing the products you buy were not in China but in your town - and polluting your air and environment - I don't think you would be so flippant.

"exploiting our workers with low pay" - that's primarily why you can buy Chinese products at such cheap prices.

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Sorry, it is not me missing the point.

My (small Japanese) company has a factory in Shanghai that was set up about 7 years ago. We had to jump through hoops of red tape and bureaucracy. All the approvals came from the Chinese because they know its good for their economy. Before you ask, the main reason we set it up was not for low cost but because China is a major market for us and it made sense to build a local production unit that lowered transport costs and gives better local service, rather than to export everything from Japan.

As for Chinese companies that are competing on the world market, they are doing it simply for profit, not as a favor to the rest of the world. As such they are wholly responsible for their manufacturing practises. The reason they are polluting so much is due to profiteering.

Personally, I have no problem paying higher prices for better quality products made in Japan or the UK where they will certainly be more stringent pollution controls and better conditions for workers.

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archiebald - "The reason they are polluting so much is due to profiteering."

The reason they are polluting so much is due to demand, primarily from other countries.

Yes, their production/environmental standards have a lot of room to be improved, but laying the blame for pollution on profiteering, I think is missing seeing the elephant in the room.

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It is perfectly possible to manufacture with minimal pollution. As one example, the bulk of China's pollution and CO2 emissions is coming from the generation of electricity by coal fired power stations being completed at something like 1 per week.

Not simply coal powered but lacking in any form of scrubbing equipment.

In the UK and Germany there are many coal fired power stations but with currently available technology it is possible to reduce emissions enormously.

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"In the UK and Germany there are many coal fired power stations but with currently available technology it is possible to reduce emissions enormously."

The Chinese have followed the "grow first, clean up later" model of economic development. The impetus to upgrade to green technology won't come from being berated by governments whose citizens purchase the goods made under these conditions but the Chinese people themselves, who are beginning to demand a cleaner living environment.

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Betzee, yes the people might complain but the government is shrugging its shoulders and saying, "blame our customers"

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Betzee, yes the people might complain but the government is shrugging its shoulders and saying, "blame our customers"

I was in Taiwan, China's renegade province, in the 1980s when the environmental movement was formed while the island was still under martial law. It started when a community resisted hosting a sixth naphtha cracker (六輕) plant. (I haven't the faintest idea what a naphtha cracker plant does, I only know I don't want to live around one.)

As the environmental movement got going in Taiwan, the effect was to send polluting industries scurrying across the strait to China where regulations are quite a bit laxer. This manufacturing migration underscored the reality that environmentalism is driven, to some extent, by the NIMBY (not in my backyard) mentality. Now we've discovered, someone else's background doesn't free us for the impact.

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Yo! Now, well, why don't we just stop doing business in China since all their health problems are now related to us? Do you think they would then say its unfair business practices?

Man, I can't wait for you to build you own little world one day. But, let me build you the first Mambo Joint there - ok?

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Well this certainly is a novel position from China. What's next? Demand that developed nations pay for a portion of the health care issues the Chinese suffer from because of their pollution?

I think a better idea would be for China to clean up their industries. Building products isn't the problem, building products in a way that pollutes the environment is. Besides, Chinese companies are going to pass the increased costs to the customer anyway. But in the end they are the ones who should be responsible for it since they are the ones who decide how they make their products.

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Breath-taking ignorance of how manufacturing supply chains operate.

Chinese factories fill orders from retailers like Wal-Mart which set the price. Buying agents "scour the globe to give shoppers an $8.63 Polo shirt" as an LA Times series put it a few years ago.

When Wal-Mart Stores Inc. demands a lower price for the shirts and shorts it sells by the millions, the consequences are felt in a remote Chinese industrial town, at a port in Bangladesh and here in Honduras, under the corrugated metal roof of the Cosmos clothing factory.

The competition to get the contract pits vendor against vendor, country against country. "If you can't fill it at this price, well there's a factory somewhere else that can." To bring it in at that price, corners have to be cut. Among those corners, are environmental safeguards.

There's such a thing as "responsible consumption" and people need to educate themselves about it. While Chinese pollution is not wholly the result of export industries, to argue the point you have to know something about the process.

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