A new report emphasizes the ‘drastically dry’ state of the lower reaches of the Mighty Mekong. [Here]
I spent seven years of my life studying the Chinese language, have lived in China, and learned to both do and love Chinese calligraphy. Both of my younger brothers also studied Chinese, and one of them now works for the US Foreign Service in an Embassy in China. I love Chinese culture. That needs to be said here every now and then, because it’s easy from the perspective of Southeast Asia to report only news which makes China seem predatory and evil. This post is bookended by news reports that do nothing to disrupt this image, unfortunately. Just as the massive Chinese and Chinese-built dams in the upper reaches of the Mekong are destroying Southeast Asia’s ecology by retaining the water which makes life possible in the Southeast, so are China’s interests contributing to deforestation in the Golden Peninsula.
It seems that the Chinese are looking out to the future – putting strict new limits on commercial forestry within their own boundaries. Of course, this has an impact on other countries with lots of forests, since the overall demand in China for paper products has not declined.
Of course, this is largely a question of the interpenetration of state policy and capitalist markets, and as such, Americans and others with comfortable lives and free printing at their offices should not get too comfortable on our high horses – we still outpace the rest of the world in terms of our footprint. Still, viewed from Cambodia, China has a disproportionate impact on the local weather.