by John Brian Shannon
While some might think that the sky is falling now that a new President of China and a new Chinese Premier will be installed in March 2013 — Stephen S. Roach with his years of professional experience working with many of the individuals involved, tells us in his latest Project Syndicate article China’s Dream Team we should feel hopeful this time around.
Not that we didn’t feel hopeful when President of China Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jaibao came to power. In fact, I would like to take the opportunity to compliment the team of Hu Jintao and Wen Jaibao for their many successes — including the massively successful XXIX Olympiad held in Beijing.
Both men attended Harvard in younger years, both had plenty of exposure to Western ideas and neither seemed to ‘have it in’ for the West.
Historically speaking, communist leaders have generally displayed skepticism or outright hostility to the West and have been critical of Western thought and actions, even when some Western policies were of little concern to communist nations.
During the tenure of Hu Jintao and Wen Jaibao, China has advanced in many areas and has remained a peaceful partner of the West. In particular, both leaders ushered in powerful policies and regulations to help mitigate the environmental catastrophe which has resulted from such rapid industrialization.
China presently burns more than 3 billion tons of coal each year resulting in the production of 7.2 billion tons of CO2, plus other gaseous pollutants and particulates. These numbers are expected to double by 2020 based on already planned and funded (but not yet built) coal power plants adding to the output from existing coal-fired power plants there.
The successful Chinese program directed by these two great men to dramatically limit nitrous oxides at coal-fired power plants comes to mind. This is important because, according to Wikipedia; “Nitrous Oxide is a major greenhouse gas and air pollutant. Considered over a 100-year period, it has 298 times more impact ‘per unit weight’ (Global warming potential) than carbon dioxide.”
For an overview of the Chinese environmental situation and their response to it (current as of May 2012), please see my UNDP article here:
Or go directly to the downloadable PDF.
Over 382 billion dollars worth of conservation and sustainable energy projects have been announced since May 2012. And, another 56 billion was announced today, December 5, 2012 read the Reuters article here.
By 2020, when China will pump 15 billion tons of CO2 into the air just from its coal plants, any positive conservation and mitigation efforts made now will have enormous consequences then.
Let us hope that the new leadership team is as enlightened about the environment as the previous team. Let’s hope the calm and reasonable approach to international affairs and the wise economic choices of former President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jaibao will continue.
Above all, let’s not spoil the atmosphere with fearful or angry rhetoric. Minor irritants must remain minor! China needs us, we need them. Full stop.
Only second in importance to ending the Cold War (which was successfully ended by dialogue, goodwill and cooperation between the various players) is the need for China and the West to find ways to work together everyday for the betterment of the largest number of citizens in China and the West.
If the same degree of dedication, goodwill and cooperation is employed to find ways for China and the West to work together as was done to end the Cold War, everyone on the planet will reap those benefits for decades to come!
I welcome incoming Chinese leader President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to their new official positions and hope that Western leaders will reach out with sincere invitations to promote a grander and better vision of our world than was ever thought possible just 30-years ago.
Note: Xi Jinping became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the CCP’s Central Military Commission, giving him supreme authority over China’s armed forces. Next March, he will become President of China as well. Read more here.
- China pledges $56 billion to cut air pollution (www.reuters.com)
- Hu Jintao Exit Speech – Analysis (eurasiareview.com)
- VIDEO: China’s Hu Jintao opens congress (bbc.co.uk)
- More than 1,000 new coal plants planned worldwide, figures show (guardian.co.uk)
- China’s president Hu Jintao steps down and brings congress to its ‘victorious conclusion’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- America’s Coal Export Dilemma Intensifies (sustainablebusiness.com)
- Radioactive coal ash from mines near uranium deposits falls on China cities (chinadailymail.com)
- What Is The Future Of King Coal In China? – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)