China has a lot of people. Baoluan, 暴乱, is the Chinese fear of chaos, of the Government or Emperor losing control of their mandate to rule. The people, having little to lose, rise up and kick their overlords out. Today China’s overlords are the Chinese Communist Party. This recurring issue heavily colours what China does.
From China: They provide employment for their people
The solution in China is to give everyone work. With work they will not revolt and not upset the Communist Party, thus preserving the status quo: The Communist Party stays in power.
And so we embark on the quest for China to become the world’s factory. The Chinese government subsidizes factories in order to lower the cost of doing business and encourage factory owners to employ more people. Pollution, quality and safety checking, monitoring of business by government are all given a back seat. The products go out cheaply, businesses grow, factories grow, the people move from their rural farms to find work in big city factories. The Communist Party is not only supported, but hailed as reclaiming China’s long lost reputation. All seems well in China.
From the West: Lost factories and jobs
As China’s subsidized factories pump out cheap products and undercutting all other countries, world consumers eagerly lap up the reduced prices. Unfortunately their domestic factories can no longer compete. It is not that domestic products were inferior, on the contrary, but without government subsidies, very cheap labour costs, and having to comply with environmental and government regulations, margins shrink and turn into losses. Domestic factories around the world begin to close. The West becomes reliant on Chinese goods. Domestic workers lose their jobs, worldwide growth slows to a trickle, and people become increasingly angry.
Back to China; Air and Water Pollution kill people
Once content with just having a job, China’s middle class significantly grows. Yet they now live in a cesspool of filth, breathing air unfit for humans. The death and respiratory illnesses sharply rise. This is the price of being the world’s low cost producer.
Rich Chinese factory owners move their families and their money to clean air Western countries. At least they can escape the stench of China’s pollution. They begin to buy houses and land at a frenetic pace, leading to domestic price increases for houses that locals find very difficult to compete. Resentment rises against Chinese from China. The domestic governments love the influx of cash to their countries and block any means of slowing down this Chinese onslaught. Eventually the domestic people rise up, and just before domestic politicians are about to be booted out of office, they relent with weak policies, too little too late to save their domestic countries.
China’s Migrant Worker Population
For those in China that are migrant workers, moving from their rural farms to the urban cities and factories, tears their families apart. Kids only see their parents once a year. The kids are left to be raised by their grandparents. This weakens the bond between parent and child. Those that bring the kids to the big city face discrimination. Migrant workers do not have the government ID required to legally live in the city. They can be sent back to their farms on a whim. They do not qualify for health care, legal protection or any other city benefits. Migrant workers live on the fringe of Chinese society, to be used when needed and to be thrown away like garbage when their jobs are done.
Not only do China’s migrant worker population not enjoy the spectacular growth of China’s factories, but they are the least able to move to another country. They are stuck with the heavily polluted air and water, and least able to take care of their health needs when poisoned. At least they are not starving and have a job, right? They should feel happy to help China move forward.
Though they have more money in their pockets, their families are far apart, their relationship with their kids hangs by a thread, their environment is now heavily polluted, and often times their actual farm land is expropriated by the government to make way for more Chinese factories. This is the progress of the Chinese farmer.
Back to the West: Inferior products, low growth rates, dim outlook for employment
In the West we find the low quality products made in China are the only things left on our store shelves. All domestic manufacturers have closed, not able to withstand the triad of Chinese government subsidies, low wages and no environmental and government controls. They are gone for good. On top of this some governments have embarked on widespread programs to reverse climate change and to encourage green energy. This has added a significant tax to companies as well as regular people.
It needs to be addressed as the elephant in the room: Embark on a green energy program that makes earth cleaner, but make what is left of our factories less competitive, or ease up on these initiatives and try to get people back to work.
Looking forward for our kids, housing prices are out of reach, domestic factories are out of business, there is a very slow to no growth rate, meaning new graduates have great difficulty getting jobs. At least our air and water are clean. We are clean but poor.
China’s Environmental Offensive
China participates at every large environmental conference. As with many other products, China’s government subsidizes the solar panel industry, employing many more people, preserving the mandate of the Chinese Communist party, as expected. Huge solar farms are built and opened, but they we hear word that all that solar power is wasted because there is no way to store nor transport this power to far away the cities and factories that need it.
On the other hand China issues even more permits to coal burning power plants, encouraging and not curtailing their use. Say one thing to the gullible foreigners and do another within China. Encourage the foreigners to commit to ambitious green energy and climate change goals all the while stating that China is an emerging economy and can only commit to modest cuts to greenhouse gases in the distant future. And do none of it. Foreign governments are so gullible.
The fact is that China’s people and the very impartial aqcn.org monitor China’s air quality, and contrary to what China’s representatives say, China’s air is getting worse, not better. And the Chinese people, who live in the stench already know this, because they live in it and experience the consequences of bad air and bad water.
Who Wins Who Loses?
China’s Factory owners
Chinese Communist Party
People from the Developed world
China and other nations have gone on a worldwide coal power plant offensive. Instead of just building coal fired power plants domestically, they are building power plants in countries that need power but currently do not burn coal. They are exporting the problem to countries that currently do not. This is one of the reasons the Paris Climate Change Accord is a farce.
Building coal fired power plants in other countries employs Chinese workers, thus helping China’s domestic economy. What it does not do is help carbon emissions and climate change.
What to do next?
This is a complex problem and has no clear answer, but as Western people become more fed up with the status quo, trends are emerging. The status quo of buying from China at the cheapest price has significantly damaged domestic economies and their people. We can no longer play by the old rules.
The emergence of Trump in the US, though so far ineffective, is a step in a different direction. Will his “Buy American, save American Jobs” really work? He has hinted at putting an import tax on Chinese goods. This would go far in easing the Chinese pressure on domestic US factories.
Along the same lines I believe Britain’s Brexit is moving towards a similar goal, though they are distracted by their EU divorce. France, in the next few days, will also decide. The radical Marine LePen is leading the way, and may also lead to a Frexit, where France also cedes from the EU.
As for Canada, our government and leaders are too weak to stand up for fellow Canadians. They line their pockets and get rich, all while the regular people rot. Our Prime Minister is all for public relations opportunities and to not even uphold but to show the world how we are so progressive in our climate change initiatives, all the while ignoring the economic impact on fellow Canadians and Canadian factories. Canada is screwed, but we deserve who we vote into office.