The ten-foot tall midget
Consider stories like these from San Francisco, which talk about starting projects in the Chinese city where protesters were just shot:
"SAN FRANCISCO -- Entrepreneurs from China's Guangdong Province presented more than 150 business projects to potential American investors yesterday at the 2005 Hong Kong-Guangdong Business Conference in the U.S. ... The hotel was packed with 300 Chinese officials, including the Guangdong governor and mayors of all of the cities, and 600 business executives from America. ... Twenty-two officials from Shanwei attended the conference, including the mayor. ...
Huang brought pamphlets, video discs, and a thick business project book to introduce Shanwei city and its business opportunities. In the book were 180 business projects advertising foreign investment. The investment amounts for each project ranged from $ 100,000 to $50 million."
The growth is so fast and furious that there's effectively a Chinese government push to expand industrial sites from the city centers into the cheaper outlying areas.
Guangdong will soon introduce a new policy to facilitate the relocation of factories to lower-cost regions within the province in view of rising land and labour costs in the Pearl River Delta ... Hong Kong-invested factories will benefit from this new policy as they can look for less expensive yet suitable locations within Guangdong to continue their operations.
An article from People's Daily describes how the hunger for electrical power is driving China to build any source of power it can imagine including large wind farms in Guangdong, in places like Shanwei. The Standard describes the scale of the effort. "Shanwei already has a large wind farm on an offshore island, with 25 turbines. Another 24 are slated for construction." The incentive to take land from farmers in exchange for pittances is hard to resist in a command society. News Release Wire Com says:
Construction of a U.S.$743 million power station in China’s booming southern province of Guangdong has been stalled for weeks amid a dispute with local residents over compensation.
Residents of Dongzhou village, near Shanwei city in the eastern part of the province, rejected government proposals to pay them 600,000 yuan (U.S.$74,000) a year in compensation for land taken up by the power plant.
"Dongzhou has a population of around 30,000 people, so that works out at between 10 and 15 yuan per person per month," a local representative surnamed Huang told RFA’s Mandarin service.
"To put it bluntly, that’s not even enough to buy toilet paper. We villagers think that this is unreasonable."
Unreasonable, maybe. But not everyone may be aware of how the common folk feel. Consider this World Bank environmental review summary of possibly the very coal fired power plant that the Shanwei fishermen were complaining would end their livelihood.
Guangdong Shanwei Power Plant Project (coal-fired, 8 units x 600MW, planned start of operation for initial 2 units 2006-2007, located in Shanwei City, Guangdong Province):
GDIH owns 25% of the project. The project is being developed in two phases (Phase I 4 units x 600MW, and Phase II 4 units x 600MW). The Phase I plant is designed to adopt supercritical steam technology, more energy efficient than conventional subcritical steam technology. In addition to FGD, Electrostatic Precipitator, Low NOx burners, and 240m stacks, the project will also have an indoor coal storage facility to minimize fugitive dust and to protect coal pile from typhoons. The Environmental Impact Review Report concluded that proposed once-through cooling system will have limited impacts on marine environment. The plant is under construction on land largely reclaimed from the sea. The project covers a total area of 230 ha, relocated 10 to 20 households, affected some 200-300 people who lost some portion of their cultivated land. Ash from the project is planned to be comprehensively reused. However, a backup ash disposal site will be developed at an inland location about 6km from the plant. This may need to relocate about 60 family grave plots. GDIH is working with other Shanwei Power Plant Project sponsors to improve environmental and social performance targeting to
- minimize risks,
- achieve compliance with the World Bank Group policies and guidelines and
- enhance sustainability.
Shanwei, unfortunately for the Chinese authorities, also turns out to be home to pirates -- with potential Muslim connections, who are not used to be shot at without shooting back. One wonders how many of these the World Bank environmental review team spoke to.
China executed 13 Chinese and Indonesian pirates in South China's Guangdong Province ... the executions of Weng Siliang, Indonesian citizen Soni Wee and the other 11 who committed the crimes on China's territorial waters in the South China Sea were enforced in Shanwei City of Guangdong.
Jamestown.Org has a special article entitled The Costs of China's Modernization by Harbin-born Wenran Jiang. Excerpt:
According to a recently People's Daily online special, over 5 million "public accidents" occurred in 2004 alone, causing the death of 210,000 people, injuring another 1.75 million, and resulting in the immediate economic loss of over USD $57 billion (455 billion Chinese yuan). It is estimated that the direct annual cost of such disasters for China is more than USD $81 billion (650 billion yuan) on average, equal to six percent of the country’s annual GDP.
The Jamestown.org article, written before the shooting incidents in Shanwei, describes the 'costs' resulting from uneven growth when parts of a society are allowed to grow while related aspects, such as its legal and political system are artificially stunted. The Frankenstein-like freak that emerges from this process is one in which economic disputes are resolved in fights between PLA bullets and pirate bombs rather than in courts of law, a procedure which cannot continue indefinitely without something snapping.
Yet some Western institutions, for reasons they prefer to think altruistic, continue to encourage this process of distorted growth, as men two centuries ago desired women's bound feet, mistaking the twisted for the beautiful. The Kyoto climate conferences, for example, consciously exempted China from any Greenhouse Gas generation restrictions thereby encouraging further distortions; though they mean well of course. Nor are human rights organizations particularly strict with China, 210 thousand fatal accidents a year notwithstanding. They are accidents after all. With private sector companies driving the economic engine upward while political correctness simultaneously stunts civic expectations the world will get -- not the complete man it has no use for; nor even the consumerist coolie it expects, but something darker, and not wholly undeserved.