"China in sandstorm haze - Mar 23, 2010 Sandstorms continue to shroud the Chinese capital. -- Reuters", and
"China's worst drought in living memory - Mar 23, 2010 Reuters"
I read these 2 headlines and think about all the clamour by the USA and the EU countries asking China to let their currency, Yuan, to appreciate as it is creating an unfair advantage by artificially depressing the Yuan and made imports from China cheaper and resulting in huge trade imbalances!
If China is really that rich, it should plough a big part of that trade surplus into restoring the environment that the country has destroyed through neglect or sheer focused on 'if the benefit is not short term and immediate, we will not put money there' approach. The amount of money that will be required to rescue, if possible at all, must be more than these surplus can handle!
So, in this light, I argued that China is NOT a rich nation. In any case, it is still a poor country if we look at the per capita income!
I have experienced the sandstorm in Beijing when I visited it after I left in September 1998. It is just awful. It felt like the end of the world when everything is covered in yellow fine dust and many floating in the air as they were so fine!
I did not get to witness any drought in China but I can imagine the magnitude of destruction if those droughts shown on TVs in Africa, Australia and many other countries are similar to that in China.
Lessons for me are:
1. it is easy to focus on the immediate and ignore the long term project;
2. if one is the leader of a nation, his planning horizon must be a long term one and looking at places when most short-sighted people will not bothered to look at, much less to invest big money in them! China talked about protecting the environment, planting of a billion trees before the successful 2008 BJ Olympic Game, etc. Sad to say, the fact revealed that the efforts are not enough! Maybe there is no political will to REALLY carry out the green initiative?;
3. are enough leaders in the nation putting their focus on this long term challenge and making gigantic efforts to work on the short term and immediate actions to arrest the deterioration of the environment? I simple wish that they will take all the money poured into urbanization and creating property price bubbles into helping the earth seized back the land that it lost to the expansion of deserts and inadequate irrigation efforts. Of course, the people must also be educated on how to help Mother Earth nursed herself back to a healthy stage again.
This is about putting the resources into long term projects that will benefit everyone eventually. Do we have the foresight and the strengths to execute? For the future of China, I hope there are enough of such leaders in China!