Perceptions of Chinese Economic Growth and Environmental Issues

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China has long been considered to be amongst the upper level of the developed countries of the world. However, post-Mao China has seen some major changes and reform in the past century. Part of that change has been the shift to a more market based economy. Overall, most of the Chinese population’s living standards have vastly improved. Still, much of the economic growth has spurred significant environmental issues which can affect the overall life quality of the people. While the country intensely focuses on economic stability and sustainability, the health of the environment in China has greatly suffered. The perception among the western developed nations is that Chinese people are only focused on economic growth with little to no regard for environmental issues. There is also the perception that in post-communist China, the Chinese government puts such emphasis on growing and developing the economy and that the people of China have no real choice in environmental sustainability and opt away from environmental issues due to the governmental powers in place (Tilt, 12). However, these common perceptions could truly be misconceptions. Through history there have been many developing countries which set goals for economic growth and then ignore or neglect the country’s environmental health. China’s overall industrial yield increased at a fast rate during the late 1990’s until 2004. The trend is still moving upward with no indication of impending decline. However, China almost solely depends on coal energy. Coal is a “dirty” energy and source of great pollution which is drastically affecting the Chinese environment (Tilt, 7). The government of China also does not readily support activism and there is a major lack of environmental “act... ... middle of paper ... ...for the environment due to the intense focus of creating and refining the market economy. The next assumption is that even those people in China who do care about the environment have little power to take environmental actions due the power of the centralized government and the governmental center of attention revolving around fiscal concerns. However, the Chinese people have demonstrated a certain amount of power in making changes to aid in mitigating environmental damages. They have taken steps, placed complaints and demonstrated for their environmental rights. The government has also taken some basic actions regarding the health of the environment although greater action is certainly needed. These facts suggest that the perceptions western nations have regarding the people (and perhaps the government) of China are quickly showing themselves to be misconceptions.

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