News / Economy

Q&A: China Growing 'By All Means Necessary'

FILE - A worker walks on the roof of an office building construction site near a lake in Hefei, Anhui province.
FILE - A worker walks on the roof of an office building construction site near a lake in Hefei, Anhui province.
The huge and robust Chinese economy continues to be hungry for vast amounts of resources and raw materials as Beijing seeks to sustain rapid growth. That momentum is fueled by oil, gas, rare earth minerals, ores, coal and farmland. For the rest of the world, a question remains - what is the impact for everyone outside of China? Is the massive gathering of resources good in keeping the global economy going, or will it have negative consequences for manufacturing efforts elsewhere? The independent Council on Foreign Relations turned to Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi to help provide an answer.  Their research produced the book By All Means Necessary.  Elizabeth Economy, Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Voice of America’s Jim Stevenson more about it.
 
STEVENSON: We have seen a very aggressive China with respect to the South China Sea, East China Sea and mineral rich areas that have overlapping claims by other countries.
 

ECONOMY: I think it is important to disentangle a resource quest from other concerns, namely in the East and South China Sea. It is certainly as much about resources as it is nationalism and sovereignty claims. Probably one of the most important findings that we had was that there has been this sort of understanding that China is the world’s largest source of overseas investment in resources and it is gobbling up supplies and producing resource scarcities and rising prices. But what we found is China is still a second-tier investor in much of the resource world. So for example in Africa, China ranks fourth, not the first, third in Latin America. It is third in Southeast Asia, and a very distant third after the European Union and Japan. I think the message we really want to get across with our book is that in many respects, the impact is much more nuanced and much more complicated than we tend to assume. It is important to understand those complications and nuances because only then can we figure out how we want to respond to China’s resource quest.
 
STEVENSON: Do we see China’s economy beginning to transform as Japan’s did and other industrialized nations in the past?
 
ECONOMY: I think that we are potentially at an inflection point. One of the things that our book makes a point of noting is that the past is not prologue. We shouldn’t look at what China has done before over say the past 35 years of going out for resources in a more aggressive way as what it’s going to continue. If China is able to rebalance its economy, to move away from investment and consumption-led growth, if it is able to make that same kind of transition, if it is able to become more efficient in terms of its resource use and conserve resources, then we can see a fundamentally different pattern of energy consumption, a different mix emerging. We haven’t hit that point yet.
 
STEVENSON: This resource quest as you write about has become a bit of a controversy for the rest of the world, especially when it comes to things like rare earths, which are very limited, and China is trying to scoop up as much as possible.
 
ECONOMY: Certainly the numbers are striking. If you just look on the face of it, by 2010 China accounted for 38 percent of local copper demand, 42 percent of aluminum, a similar number for other metals. When you look at something like rare earths, China already commands upwards of 95 percent of the production of these rare earths, most of which are in fact within their own territory. In general we do see that China is commanding a large portion of the world’s resources. This is a country that is close to 20 percent of the world’s population. So is it unreasonable in fact that they are consuming 10 percent of the global oil? So we try to put things within context, and also to make the point that if you look back at history, you can see that all rising nations dating back to ancient Athens have sought resources outside their borders to fuel their economies.

Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8845
JPY
USD
117.71
GBP
USD
0.6643
CAD
USD
1.2669
INR
USD
62.019

Rates may not be current.