Is China Starting to Clean Up its Act?
There's an interesting discussion going on over on Spend Matters about whether or not China is manipulating its currency. Well, I think it's interesting because I'm participating. I don't believe pegging a currency to the US dollar meets a normal definition of "currency manipulation." Your mileage may vary, of course. The discussion can be found in last Friday's Rant.
One of the other participants brought up the issue of China's poor environmental standards. That's true, as has been true of all developing countries. Back in the late 60s, Tokyo was one of the more polluted cities on earth. Traffic police wore oxygen masks. Electronic signs in Ueno and other places posted the CO and CO2 levels in the air. By the mid 80s the place was pristine. No outside pressure was brought to bear. The Japanese just got fed up and fixed the problem. It usually takes some degree of economic development before this starts to happen.
I've always hoped the same thing would happen in China. It looks like it's starting to happen. I'm glad, because China is too big for the environment to continue to accept their volume of pollution. Most importantly, it's happening because of internal Chinese policies, not foreign pressure. Thomas Friedman has a column in today's New York Times titled "The New Sputnik". It's about Red China becoming Green China. (You can read the opinion for yourself.) Friedman is less than totally optimistic, saying pollution is going to continue in parallel with development with solar and wind industries. He also points out that the US seems to be missing this market and most solar cells are coming from China already.