The Financial Times reports Chinese officials successfully pressured the World Bank to cut a third of a new report on pollution in China. The report finds about 750,000 people die prematurely in China annually due to pollution. The part that was cut noted that these premature deaths could incite “social unrest.”
The report, as it was initially published, is available here.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Elizabeth Economy discusses how pollution is nipping profits of Chinese companies.
Seems of late that China cannot remain below the world’s radar, which is where we suspect that is where they prefer to be. In Barbados we have the issue of Chinese working in the country without the required immigration documents, there is the confusing political situation where St. Lucia accepted pieces of silver in the election campaign but had an about face when the Compton led party captured the government. It resulted in St. Lucia establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which of course has rubbed China the wrong way. There is always the growing concern which Barbadians have had about the silently growing group of Chinese in Barbados. Along with the Guyanese they have been responsible of forcing the wages of artisans below subsistence levels in the opinion of Barbadian artisans. With the high cost of living Barbadians building homes have been taking advantage of the cheap labor by going underground. Often times the services of the Chinese and Guyanese are acquired informally. Earlier this month the story broke of Chinese factories exploiting child labor. The atrocities of human rights abuses can be listed on BU until tomorrow. The harsh reality is that the world continues as if these things are not happening.
China is the economic tiger of the world. The multinationals of the world led by the American companies Wal-mart and the rest have gleefully entered China to lower their cost of production. Only this week BU had to chuckle when we read that the American capitalists doing business in China are concerned because the country is currently seeking to tweak its labor laws in response to the embarrassing stories which are becoming more frequent in the international media. The capitalists are worried that the pittance which they currently pay in wages will be increased as a result of the exercise. The issue has become the greatest paradox of the time. The Western media highlights the human rights violations but covertly the Western multi-nationals are exhibiting concern at China’s effort to rehabilitate its labor laws. Too funny!
Don’t let us forget what China has been up to of late. It has entered Africa to satisfy its ravenous appetite for mineral resources. Whether it is oil, diamonds, it does not matter, China will take it. Should we blame the Arthur government for getting into the act when the whole world is standing in line at the door step of China? China already is a very active member of the Caribbean Development Bank and a generous donor. Of course this means that the conventionalities attached to bids successfully gained comes with the price tag of Chinese labor flooding our small islands. Arthur is an economist and he knows that the idealistic positions of some of our people cannot create the inflows to the capital account of government or provide the technical expertize to build Barbados for the 21st Century. Perhaps it explains why he appointed Sir Allan Fields to the important position of Ambassador to China. Barbados would be naive if it believes that China is providing assistance to our tiny island because it has a great love for the place.
BU will ask the 64 thousand dollar question. What is it that China wants from Barbados?
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