The big story in China news this week was that there was an effort by Chinese arms companies to sell weapons to Qaddafi in mid-July, well after the UN embargo had begun. While the Chinese gov’t is denying any knowledge of these meetings (even claiming that it might have just been a friendly chat), and is stressing that no arms were sold. This does however fit China’s pattern of supporting dictators with small arms that they know are being used against civilians. As China’s strength grows, it is finding foreign policy to be a bit of a minefield.
China also used state media to focus anger at ConocoPhillips this week as news continues to pour in about an oil spill off China’s coast. While the spill is clearly troubling, I found it very interesting how effectively anger was channeled at the foreign company, even though it is a joint operation in which a state-owned enterprise controls 51%, you’ll notice their name is completely absent from this editorial. If you’re doing business in China, this should give you pause.
The New York Times (and several others) ran stories this week pointing to a push from the Chinese gov’t to encourage Chinese automotive companies to focus more on developing fuel-efficient cars, and less on sales. This comes after years of subsidies that encouraged personal car purchases that have left many of China’s cities choked with both gridlock and pollution. This seems to be a small step away from “GDP at the cost of everything” type policies.
Startling numbers also were released this week that showed suicide was the leading cause of death for Chinese between the ages of 15-34, and #5 for all deaths in China. Despite usual claims that suicide is the result of a high pressure, modern society, it is troubling that 75% of the suicides were in rural areas. I think this again shows that it is China’s farmers that face the heaviest burdens in new China.
Evan Osnos, who writes something amazing about China almost every week, wrote a short article reflecting on whether or not China has overreached in its growth. His comparison seems apt, as a director at the hospital this week told me, “China’s economy right now is very dangers, just like Japan before,” not a country China likes to be mentioned in the same breath with.
Finally I wanted to share a great photo essay from People’s Daily on Left-Behind grandparents, which fits perfectly with the posts I wrote earlier this week on both the elderly in the countryside, and the grandchildren they raise.