Arup, Tom. (2013) Where there’s smoke there’s China. The Age World, 8 May (accessed 7 June 2013).
As a former top diplomat in Beijing, and after three decades of professional and personal engagement with the country, Professor Ross Garnaut is no stranger to China.
In January, the respected economist and former Labor climate policy tsar found himself in Beijing again, this time to open a workshop hosted in part by China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.
Gathered were a group of international policy wonks, including many Australians and local government officials. They met to discuss options for what some in the public debate deny is happening – the introduction of a national carbon price in China.
In just over a month China will begin a massive experiment in emissions trading when the first of seven regional pilot schemes kicks off (and which one day may develop into a national scheme).
The stakes are high. China emits one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases. It is easily the world’s largest consumer of coal. In 2011 it released an estimated 9.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the US and India combined.
In his speech Garnaut painted a cautious, but encouraging, picture of where China stands on climate change.
Solinger, Dorothy J. (2013). Streets as suspect: State skepticism and the current losers in urban China. Critical Asian Studies. 45(1) pp.3-26
The Chinese Communist Party has been suspicious of people engaged in commercial activity on the streets ever since it took over the country in 1949, but the reasons for this have shifted in a paradoxical way over the decades. In the years when Mao Zedong ruled the nation according to his understandings and beliefs about socialist values and for several years after his death the suspicion in the main concerned the capitalist practices that business entails – profit making, inequalities, price-consciousness, class differentiation. Except for a few short intervals, doing non-state trade or providing private services was banned. In the first few decades after 1980, marketing outside was treated more leniently, although fees and licenses were still required in order to avoid harassment, and peasant migrants faced challenges. But once millions of people were laid off after 1995, the Party hoped to enable them to make a living, and also to prevent them from protesting, so it gave them special leeway to work outside from stalls and even directly on the pavement. After the mid 2000s, however, the indigent – the majority of whom were probably once members of the ideologically sacrosanct proletariat – have, ironically (in light of the values of the past) been discouraged from appearing on city streets to make money. Thus now that capitalist activity is common, the impoverished are considered to damage the city appearance, so that instead of capitalism being banned, it is the interests just of large-scale moneymakers that are to be served.