Wednesday, December 01, 2004

China remains in the Coal Age.

Beijing Breathing

My friends in the US say that local TV and papers don't carry news about China. There's also not much of that here in Taiwan too, surprisingly. But if you go out of your way you can find news that leaks out of China's official PR screen. Much of it is dismal and frightening. Here are 2 examples this week of the kind of stuff I've been reading weekly for the past 5 years:

1. "More than 7,000 workers are killed each year in China's coal mines, considered the world's most dangerous. Labour rights groups say the real figure could be around 20,000." Today, December 1, families and friends of 166 dead miners rioted and trashed a 4 story building where officials were hiding. They were quoted as saying that the government doesn't care about worker safety, nor about surviving family members.
Note that these are only deaths in coal mines. Deaths of teenage girls in factory fires and unsafe work sites are higher than this. Think about that when you shop in any department store in the US.

2. "Booming China Awash in 'Out of Control' Acid Rain" is yesterday's headline from Reuters out of Beijing. Turns out they have the world's worst acid rain levels because 75% of power is generated by burning coal. So people die in the coal mines and then more people die from burning the coal. The government has tried some methods to reduce pollution, but so far it has had no positive effect. At the end of this article is a typical conclusion: "A government official told the paper that China had yet to set special regulations to control nitric acid."

But hey, it's all about cheap labor and new consumers. Welcome to the post-contemporary globe.


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