SOCIAL CHANGES IN CHINA - Moraine Park Technical College

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SOCIAL CHANGES
IN CHINA
Since the early 1990's,
Shanghai and other cities have
been making up for lost time.
In 2005, building at a frenetic
pace, the nation expected to
lay down the finishing blocks on
4.7 billion square feet or more
of construction, a record, up
from 2 billion in 1998.
The building boom is a principal
reason that China is searching
the world for energy and
natural resources: it needs raw
materials to build new cities,
and the energy to power them,
driving up world commodity
prices and threatening global
environmental damage.
China's heavy reliance on coal
to power its overcharged
economy has already made it
the world's second-largest
producer of greenhouse gases,
after the United States. And
the World Health Organization
says China has 7 of the world's
10 most-polluted cities.
Tiny airborne particles
have drifted just north of
San Francisco from coalfired power plants,
smelters, dust storms and
diesel trucks in China and
other Asian countries.
Sugai was destroyed by a flood of sludge
From the Wall Street Journal,
9/4/02:
Economic problems are the
biggest challenge. From 1996
to 2000, state-sector
restructuring led to the layoffs of 48 million people – equal
to the population of Korea.
China is home to an estimated
100,000,000 unemployed. To
put that in perspective, the US
economy employs 115,000,000!
Cities are trying to absorb
rural laborers leaving
unprofitable farms – a throng
estimated at 150 million.
“Reforms are good for
some people but not for us,”
says Ma Tao, who, with his
wife, was laid off from a
state-owned factory.
The spread of social unrest is a
serious threat to the (communist)
party’s grip on power in the future:
“Disgruntled Chinese citizens,
especially the newly unemployed,
join the Falun Gong (a religious
group, though persecuted, which
has advocated religious freedom
throughout the 1990s) as a ‘symbol
of protest’.”
Author Gordon G. Chang
The government says it has
thoroughly cleaned the areas to be
submerged. But environmentalists
say the residue of industrial sites
and toilets will further contaminate
an already polluted waterway.
“They have cleared the garbage
mounds less than five years old.
Those older than 5 years old are
simply buried underneath.”
In Zhongbaodao, a village near Yichang
in the Yangtze River Valley,
archaeologists have revealed more than
200 ancient tombs filled with pottery,
porcelain, stoneware, and polished tools
dating back at least 7,000 years! They
also unearthed a 3,000-year-old kiln
from the Shang Dynasty. At countless
other sites along the river, scores of
treasures have emerged.
PBS.org
GROWING SOCIAL
PROBLEMS
The inhabited part of China is roughly
half as large as the inhabited part of
the US, yet it supports five times as
many people. This is made possible only
by crowding some 2,000 human beings
onto each square mile of cultivated earth
in the valleys and floodplains.
One’s picture of a big empty landscape is
mirrored statistically in the estimate
that six sevenths of the population must
live on the one third of the land that is
cultivable.
The US has some 570,000 square miles
under cultivation and could greatly
increase this area; China has perhaps
450,000 square miles of cultivated land
(less than one half acre of foodproducing soil per person), with little
prospect of increasing this area by more
than a small fraction, even if it is used
more intensively.
In short, China must feed about 23% of
the world’s population from about 7% of
the world’s arable land.
China: A New History
Projected Demand for Water
Even as the Yellow River, aquifers, and
wells get drier, the need for water
continues to swell. Between now and
2030, UN demographers project that
China’s population will increase from 1.2
billion to 1.5 billion, an increase that
exceeds the entire population of the US.
Even if there were no changes in water
consumption per person, this would boost
the demand for water by one-fourth
above current levels.
THE CHINESE HAVE TO REDUCE
THEIR BIRTHRATE TO AVOID
DROWNING IN A POPULATION OF
MORE THAN A BILLION. FEMALE
INFANTICIDE IS ONE WAY; BIRTH
CONTROL AND ABORTION ARE
OTHERS. MANY AMERICANS
MEANWHILE WANT TO SAVE EVERY
FETUS AS A SACRED HUMAN BEING,
NEVER MIND ITS MOTHER
OR ITS FUTURE.
A study by Lester R. Brown depicted a
critical situation. Taking into account
China’s rapid paving-over of cropland for
new factories, roads, and housing; its
diminishing returns on applications of
fertilizers; and growing shortages of
irrigation water, Brown calculated that
China was headed toward a huge grain
deficit -- a situation that would
severely jeopardize world food security
by driving grain prices to levels the
world’s poor could never afford.
IN 2004, China’s forays into the world
market to buy 8 million tons of wheat
marked what could be the beginning of
the global shift from an era of grain
surpluses to one of grain scarcity.
In Washington, the National Intelligence
Council, concerned about the potential
effects of rising grain prices on political
stability, launched a major investigation
that closely corroborated Brown’s
findings.
Conclusion: Water and food shortages
could pose even greater threats to
human security in the next century than
the ideological threats that had
preoccupied us during the Cold War.
Worldwatch
july/aug 1998
Bill Zierdt, former Economics
Professor at Marian College,
says: “You just wait. After the
Olympics, the Chinese Gov’t will
really crack down on
protestors.” He claims
officials don’t want to raise the
ire of the international
community beforehand.

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