Is China too big to fail? An economic and environmental perspective
China’s rapid economic growth in the last twenty years has lifted millions out of poverty and given China a seat at the top table of world economies. However, such growth has come at a cost with a number of commentators arguing that the current growth path is unsustainable. As urbanization accelerates problems of environmental degradation and energy shortages will continue to grab the public’s attention. China is currently experiencing rising anger over air pollution and toxic emissions from chemical plants and heavy industry. As a result China’s new leaders have signalled that they are now willing to accept slower growth as they move towards a more sustainable economic model.
However, the huge scale of China’s economy means that addressing the environmental consequences of economic growth is a challenge. This lecture will discuss whether China can grow sustainably through the use of stringent regulation and green technologies often in the face of opposition from the West. The US and others complain that China’s currency is undervalued and that it emits too much carbon dioxide while foreign investors are warning that wages are rising too quickly.
Returning China to a rapid but sustainable growth path will require the rebalancing of the economy while reducing environmental degradation and inequality. The future of not only 1.6 billion Chinese but also the rest of the world economy depends on it. China may already be too big to fail.
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