China's pursuit of natural resources is restructuring markets, pushing up commodity prices, and transforming resource-rich economies. Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and the global effects of its meteoric growth.
China's environmental woes are mounting, and the country is fast becoming one of the leading polluters in the world. The situation continues to deteriorate because even when Beijing sets ambitious targets to protect the environment, local officials generally ignore them, preferring to concentrate on further advancing economic growth. Really improving the environment in China will require revolutionary bottom-up political and economic reforms.
The costs of China's deep and enduring environmental crisis are growing, yet Beijing's response to the country's environmental challenges has been far from sufficient. Increasingly, the Chinese people are pushing the government to do more to protect the environment, and Beijing must rise to the occasion, says Elizabeth Economy.
Elizabeth C. Economy says, "If the United States and China can begin the process by taking a step back to establish a new narrative for the relationship that minimizes competition, sets aside intractable issues, and keeps global and regional issues where they belong—in a multilateral framework—there will be the potential for the two countries, like the frog in the well, to take two steps forward for every one step back."
Political change is happening all the time in China, though the government is not leading the charge. Rather, the Chinese people are advancing political change through advocacy by nongovernmental organizations, communication via the Internet, and political protest.
Both are accurate. China certainly "has risen" to become a global economic power: in only three decades, it has transformed itself into the world's second largest economy, largest exporter, and largest provider of loans to the developing world. At the same time, China is rising: its economic and political system, as well as its foreign policy, is still developing. To state categorically that China "has risen" is to accept that the China of today will be substantially the same as the China of five to ten years from now, and few people in or outside China would accept such a conclusion.