Archive for the ‘minerals’ Category

Aussies joke – and hope – that China can save capitalism

October 9, 2008

SYDNEY (AFP) – A cartoon on the front page of Australia’s national newspaper Thursday neatly illustrates an irony admitted by the government: communist China could save capitalism.

File photo shows the Chinese and Australian flags in Sydney. ... 
File photo shows the Chinese and Australian flags in Sydney. A newspaper in Australia has used a cartoon to illustrate the fact that the powerful communist Asian nation could save Australian capitalism from the global credit crisis currently afflicting markets.(AFP/Torsten Blackwood)

The illustration shows a Chinese man in a Superman outfit telling exactly this to a bankrupt, cigar-smoking Wall Street tycoon covering his nakedness in a barrel.

“Oh, you’re just loving this, aren’t you,” the fallen high-flyer replies in the cartoon in The Australian.

Amid turmoil in the world financial sector, the International Monetary Fund predicted Wednesday that China’s economy would grow at more than 9.0 percent next year while much of the West faces recession.

That’s good news for Australia, whose own economic boom has been driven for years by China‘s insatiable demand for mineral resources such as iron ore for steelmaking and coal to fire up its industries.

“China is now a major influence in the world economy and it’s significant that the IMF doesn’t downgrade its growth prospects,” Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner told national radio Thursday.

“So we are well positioned to continue to sell an awful lot of exports to China and we believe that that’s one of the important factors that’s protecting Australia, to some extent, from the influences of the US financial crisis,” he said.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081009/od_afp/financebank
ingaustraliachinaoffbeat_081009161249

Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Created Economic “Disaster,” Now Considers Defeat

April 1, 2008

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was hailed then for his policies of racial reconciliation and development that brought education and health to millions denied those services under colonial rule. Zimbabwe’s economy thrived on exports of food, minerals and tobacco.The unraveling began when Mugabe ordered the often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms, ostensibly to return them to the landless black majority. Instead, Mugabe replaced a white elite with a black one, giving the farms to relatives, friends and cronies who allowed cultivated fields to be taken over by weeds.

Today, a third of the population depends on imported food handouts. Another third has fled the country as economic and political refugees and 80 percent is jobless. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 35 years and shortages of food, medicine, water, electricity and fuel are chronic.

Today the ruling party may be facing ouster by the voters, if the election is honest….

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080401/ap_on_re_af/zimbabwe_elections;_
ylt=ArW7x7Pw7Mv.GJWLARZdy9es0NUE

China is the World’s E-Waste Dumping Ground

January 5, 2008

By Terry J. Allen
In These Times
January 5, 2008

The highway of poisoned products that runs from China to the United States is not a one-way street. America ships China up to 80 percent of U.S. electronic waste — discarded computers, cell phones, TVs, etc. Last year alone, the United States exported enough e-waste to cover a football field and rise a mile into the sky.

So while the media ride their new lead-painted hobbyhorse — the danger of Chinese wares — spare a thought for Chinese workers dying to dispose of millions of tons of our toxic crap.

Most of the junk ends up in the small port city of Guiyu, a one-industry town four hours from Hong Kong that reeks of acid fumes and burning plastic. Its narrow streets are lined with 5,500 small-scale scavenger enterprises euphemistically called “recyclers.” They employ 80 percent of the town’s families — more than 30,000 people — who recover copper, gold and other valuable materials from 15 million tons of e-waste.

Unmasked and ungloved, Guiyu’s workers dip motherboards into acid baths, shred and grind plastic casings from monitors, and grill components over open coal fires. They expose themselves to brain-damaging, lung-burning, carcinogenic, birth-defect- inducing toxins such as lead, mercury, cadmium and bromated flame retardants (the subject of last month’s column), as well as to dioxin at levels up to 56 times World Health Organization standards. Some 82 percent of children under 6 around Guiyu have lead poisoning.

While workers reap $1 to $3 a day and an early death, the “recycling” industry — in both the United States and China — harvests substantial profits. U.S. exporters not only avoid the cost of environmentally sound disposal at home, but they also turn a buck from selling the waste abroad. After disassembly, one ton of computer scrap yields more gold than 17 tons of gold ore, and circuit boards can be 40 times richer in copper than copper ore. In Guiyu alone, workers extract 5 tons of gold, 1 ton of silver and an estimated $150 million a year.

Many U.S. exporters pose as recyclers rather than dumpers. But a 2005 Government Accountability Office report found that “it is difficult to verify that exported used electronics are actually destined for reuse, or that they are ultimately managed responsibly once they leave U.S. shores.”

This dumping of toxic waste by developed countries onto developing ones is illegal under the Basel Convention, a 1992 international treaty that was ratified by every industrialized nation — except the United States.

Unhindered by international law and unmonitored by Washington, U.S. brokers simply label e-waste “recyclable” and ship it somewhere with lax environmental laws, corrupt officials and desperately poor workers. China has all three. And a packing case with a 100-dollar bill taped to it slips as easily as an eel through Guiyu’s ports.

E-waste fills a neat niche in the U.S.-China trade. America’s insatiable appetite for cheap Chinese goods has created a trade deficit that topped $233 billion last year. While e-waste does little to redress the financial disparity, it helps ensure that the container vessels carrying merchandise to Wal-Mart’s shelves do not return empty to China.

In the 19th century, England faced a similarly massive deficit with China until a different kind of junk — opium — allowed it to complete the lucrative England-India-China trade triangle.

Britain, after destroying India’s indigenous textile industry and impoverishing local weavers, flooded its colony with English textiles carried on English ships. The British East India Company fleet then traveled to China to buy tea, silk and other commodities to sate Europe’s appetites for “exotic” luxuries. But since there was little the Chinese wanted from either India or Europe, the ships traveled light and profitless on the India-China side of the triangle. That is, until England forced Indian peasants to grow opium and, in the process, precipitate mass starvation by diverting cultivable land.

The trade fleet then filled up with opium and pushed it to China through the port of Canton. Since opium was illegal in China, Britain started a war in 1839 to force Peking to accept the drug. By 1905, more than a quarter of China’s male population was addicted.

Now it is Americans who are addicted to Chinese junk. And our own government policies and corporations are the ones stoking the jones. Slick marketing and consumer fetishism push Americans to buy the latest, lightest, biggest, smallest, fastest, trendiest items. And even if you are not hooked on the latest gadgets, repairs or upgrades are impractical. The half billion computers we trashed in the last decade have to go somewhere, and shipping them to China and other poor nations is a win-win solution for Chinese and U.S. industry.

As for the populations of both countries, we can feast on the irony that the same ships that carry toxic toys and food ingredients to Americans return bearing deadly e-waste for the Chinese.

Terry J. Allen is a senior editor of In These Times. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, New Scientist and other publications.

U.S. and China: Which Way?

August 23, 2007

Alvin Rabushka
The Washington Times
August 23, 2007

Current U.S. headlines about China trumpet dubious dog food and lead paint in toys. Too bad all that is burying another important story. China’s emergence as an economic power has set off alarms among national security and military experts in Washington, D.C., about China’s rapidly rising military expenditures, including the acquisition of world-class submarines, development of a blue-water navy, modern aircraft, satellite-launch and -destruction capability, a broad range of missiles, and a more professional army.

An immediate concern is Taiwan’s security, but the longer-term threat resides in China’s growing influence throughout Asia and its forays into Africa and Latin America in quest of natural resources. What, then, should U.S. policy be toward China?

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http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20070823/
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