China Call Report

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A quarterly review on China, including global affairs, economic developments, business growth, and bilateral advancements.

 

THE OPPORTUNITY FOR CUTTING EMISSIONS

Photo: Flickr, Miha Pavlin

Beijing Will Spend Billions To Reduce Air Pollution in 2017

Beijing will spend RMB 18.2 billion (US$ 2.6 billion) to fight air pollution in 2017, according to the PRC official news agency, Xinhua.

“This year, the city will strengthen air pollution treatment, replace coal with clean energy for 700 villages, phase out 300,000 high-polluting old vehicles, close or upgrade 2,570 polluting factories,” said mayor Cai Qi in a report to the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress.

Beijing will also activate an environmental police force to crack down on polluters such as “open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads.”

A National Public Radio report recently described the main drivers of China’s air pollution as “mainly caused by coal-burning power plants and inefficient vehicles.” It noted a World Health Organization account that 1,032,833 deaths in China were attributable to air pollution in 2012.

According to The Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, many people, “including some in China,” are concerned that addressing environmental challenges will jeopardize economic growth.

The Institute is recommending a book, “The Economics of Air Pollution in China,” by Ma Jun, published by Columbia University Press, that makes the case that by targeting pollution, China has “a real opportunity to undertake significant structural economic reforms that would support long-term growth.”

Ma Jun is chief economist at the research bureau of the People’s Bank of China. Among other achievements he has worked as an economist and senior economist at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

 


 

VIEWS FROM ASIA PACIFIC

Chicago Council Surveys Asia-Pacific Attitudes

The views of people living in the Asia-Pacific area about themselves and their neighboring countries have been polled by organizations from six nations and revealed in a February 1, 2017 report.

The goal was to better understand how the publics in each country view the changes taking place in the Asia-Pacific and to better understand mutual concerns and competing visions in hopes of creating better-informed policy decisions.

The survey was made by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs partnered with the Lowy Institute (Australia), the Asia Pacific Foundation (Canada), Dataway Horizon (China), Genron NPO (Japan), and the East Asia Institute (South Korea).

The survey makes clear that there is a pull of both American and Chinese influence in the area.

  • While Americans and Australians see the U.S. as more influential than China, Chinese see the two nations as roughly equal in terms of global influence.
  • The United States is widely viewed as more militarily powerful than China, with majorities of Americans (50%), Chinese (54%), and Japanese (78%) – and a plurality of Australians (43%) – naming the U.S. the stronger military power.
  • There is less consensus on American economic power. Chinese (51%) and Japanese (61%) publics say the U.S. is stronger than China economically, but Americans (38%) and Australians (40%) tend to say China’s economy is strongest.

“Despite the evolving competition for regional influence between the U.S. and China, publics around the Asia-Pacific see their bilateral relationships as generally stable or improving – though there are several important exceptions.”

Americans largely see their relationships around the region as stable with majorities saying U.S relations with Australia (75%), Canada (69%), and South Korea (58%) are about the same, and plurality (46%) say the same about Sino-American relations.

“Relatively few respondents in any country polled say that their relations with the United States are worsening.”

Polled views are also fairly optimistic in assessing bilateral relationships with China. Pluralities in Canada (45%) and Australia (49%) says relationships are staying about the same and a plurality of South Koreans (48%) say they are improving.

Along with expressing warm feelings toward countries in the region, majorities of the Chinese public say that relations are staying about the same with the United States.

Note: All surveys were conducted in 2016. Actions of the new U.S. administration may have shifted some opinions.

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About the author: Anita Tang is strategic advisor to Great Prairie Group and managing director of Royal Roots Global Inc.