Rare Metals Industry and Pollution: Assessing Chinese Authoritarianism in the 21st Century

While China‟s economic rise is to be commended the CCP elites have been growing concerned about how to properly manage the stark economic gap between rich and poor (Gini coefficient in 2010: 0.47). Although, Deng was aware that eventually, China would become an egalitarian society by “letting some people grow rich first”, we never know when and how such an ideal can be realised. Like any developmental state, the insurmountable accumulation of wealth is concentrated in a handful of the central and local Politburo members (and their relatives) and localized capitalists. The Party keeps maintaining its political stability and legitimacy in the eyes of the people by retaining its high economic growth rate. However, without a greater control of the widespread corruption the CCP knows it risks losing the support of the people. Economic progress has led to irreversible environmental degradation throughout the country. No country in history has ever faced the environmental problems like China now faces in the 21st century. More than 30% of fresh water of China is now considered undrinkable by the CCP , which affects over 500 million people who are now unable to gain access to clean and safe water. Environmental pollutions of various kinds have caused a wide range of diseases that include: respiratory problems, cardiovascular damage, heavy metal poisoning, and cancer. According to the Ministry of Health, cancer has become China‟s leading cause of death and this is a direct resulted of the rampant pollution within China. Environmental pollutions have also increased the rate of social instability throughout the country. Riots and social conflicts are only going to increase in the foreseeable as long as the local Chinese authorities continue to condone irresponsible but preventable landfills and industrial waste dumping.

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Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 2 No. 2

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