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Ecological Impact Of International Business On China

1664 words - 7 pages

Ecological impact of international business on China

In the last decade, China has undergone veritable economic expansion, but with great cost to its environment. Unregulated production and pollution have resulted in the existence of over 400 cancer villages in China, concentrated around areas of high economic development (Florcruz, 2013). According to the Chinese media, cancer villages are defined as villages where the number of cancer patients is extraordinarily high due to levels of water pollution from industrial activities. Outside of China, the scientific community identifies "cancer clusters" as regions where cancer is more common as a result of the density of cancer-causing ...view middle of the document...

, 2006). Trade liberalisation is implemented within the member countries of the WTO under the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a multilateral agreement that works towards lowering the trade barriers of countries through the gradual reduction of import tariffs, quotas and protectionist policies (Morrison, 2006). China's increased participation in the global economy allowed it to emerge as the 'workshop of the world'. The high supply and low cost of relatively skilled labour has allowed it to become the assembly plant for a high number of imports from developing countries meant to be exported to Europe and North America (Greene et. al, 2006).

The resultant rapid industrialisation and willingness to sacrifice the ecology for economic gain has had detrimental effects on the environment. A total of 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China (Lagorio, 2010). The country faces severe environmental degradation with measurable costs on the economy and wellbeing of the nation. Morrison defines environmental degradation as the environmental change caused through human activity which intensified after the Industrial Revolution; with the production of synthetic materials generating both new and old pollutants and widespread resource depletion due to the sudden hike in manufacturing capacity (2006). China currently stands as the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) (CIA, 2013). The high levels of CO2 emissions, material damages from air pollution and soil nutrient depletion combined result in an economic cost of 9% of the country's Gross National Income (GNI) (Hill, 2013). The cost of pollution has also continued to climb over time as the rising urbanisation results in more people being exposed to harmful pollutants in the air. Moreover, the external costs of pollution are not limited to China itself. Harmful pollutants such as sodium dioxide and black and organic carbon can have critical affects on their neighbouring countries (Hill, 2013). This transmission of pollutants across national jurisdictions is known as transboundary pollution (Morrison, 2013).

Hill states that one of the issues with environmental degradation and the systems in place for measuring them is that they do not take distributional concerns into account. Health problems caused by pollution affect the impoverished on a much larger scale compared to the economically well-off. Even if they wanted to relocate in order to pursue a better standard of living for their families, they face financial constraints which make it difficult for them to elude heavily polluted areas (Hill, 2013). Furthermore, farmers and labourers in the agriculture industry stand to lose the most if the problem of climate change increases in severity. Climate change is linked to the process of global warming which happens through the trapping and build up of several greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, leading to the greenhouse effect (Morrison, 2006). The agriculture...

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