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Power Earth Government News Politics

China To Close 2,000 Factories In Energy Crackdown 242

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has published a list of 2,087 steel mills, cement works and other energy-intensive factories required to close by September 30 after discussions with provincial and municipal officials to identify industrial operations with outdated, inefficient technology. The goal of the factory closings is 'to enhance the structure of production, heighten the standard of technical capability and international competitiveness and realize a transformation of industry from being big to being strong,' the ministry says. The current Chinese five-year plan calls for using 20 percent less energy this year for each unit of economic output than in 2005 but surging production by heavy industry since last winter has put in question China's ability to meet this target. In addition to the energy-efficiency objective in the current five-year plan, a plan announced by President Hu Jintao late last year called for China to reduce its carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels."
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China To Close 2,000 Factories In Energy Crackdown

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  • by Allnighte ( 1794642 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:25AM (#33202702)
    Even though I didn't really expect China to do things like this (at least this early), it looks like they're willing to raise the standards of their production at the cost of business; something that most "western" societies have been doing for some time (and hence why they now import these goods from countries willing to produce from the cheap labor and lax restrictions).

    If this continues, it will slow their growth. Some other country will be able to produce the same things China has without these same restrictions. I know people talk about India being similar or replacing China in this regard, but won't India follow a similar path of cleaning up their own "manufacturing ethics" as they grow? What happens when *all* countries have tighter manufacturing limits in place?
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:33AM (#33202786) Homepage

    "What happens when *all* countries have tighter manufacturing limits in place"

    The West will look even more shortsighted/ridiculous than it already does...?

    If America is the self-proclaimed "leader of the free world" then why isn't it leading by example?

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:39AM (#33202852)
    And no doubt you expect it to 'lead' by eliminating the pesky 'free' part, just as China does. If the US government tried to shut down two thousand industrial facilities at a stroke, the people would vote that administration out and rightly. China can do what it does because these facilities are likely owned wholly or in large part by state industries, and whatever backlash might come from 'the people' (who supposedly own the industries through the auspice of the state) is rendered entirely meaningless through the lack of democratic accountability.
  • Playing Civ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spiffmastercow ( 1001386 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:04AM (#33203084)
    Anyone get the feeling the Chinese are behaving as if engaged in a game of Civilization, while the US is played more like a game of Monopoly?
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:12AM (#33203146)
    In the U.S., the President would give a speech about the importance of energy efficiency, Congress would pass some token tax rebates, Democrats and Republicans would end up deadlocked in am ugly partisan fight over anything more meaningful than that, and nothing more would ever get done. In fact, that's pretty much what HAS happened in the U.S.--many times, over the course of pretty much every Presidency going back at least as far as Nixon. Guess there are some real advantages to a oligarchy over a democracy.
  • Next Cold War race? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ckhorne ( 940312 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:18AM (#33203212)

    While not exactly staged liked the US vs USSR during the cold war, an economic battle between the worlds top producing (and consuming) countries would be the best thing we could ever hope for. IE- countries battling to be the most energy conscious or "greenest" or most efficient.

    An economic battle like this, of course, would require consumers to push it, of course, although it wouldn't necessarily be based on cost, but on "feel-good-ism", and that's a hard sell...

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:21AM (#33203254)

    They weren't exactly talking about putting these things on wind power you know? Half the stuff being taken offline by China was likely regulated out of existence in the west long ago.

    They're not boldly embracing some green future.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:22AM (#33203266)
    What you don't seem to comprehend is that the factories they're shutting shouldn't have been built in the first place. The capacity wasn't ever needed and the only reason why they built them was that bank accounts in China paid at the time even less than ones in the US and Europe. It's hardly green to shutter excess capacity that shouldn't have been built in the first place. But because they couldn't get anything for their savings it made more business sense to build and build without a whole lot of consideration given to the prudence of doing so.

    As inept and incompetent as the economists of the Federal Reserve are in the US, the ones running the Chinese economy are light years beyond them in terms of incompetence. You just can't assume that currency manipulation and central planning is going to get you anywhere in the long term. They flat out don't understand what it is that they're doing and it's going to cost us all dearly.
  • by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity&yahoo,com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:52AM (#33203632) Homepage

    Much like political attitudes in the US gravitate from left to right and back again like a pendulum, so does our desire for cheap foreign manufacturing.

    Companies are increasingly becoming aware that Chinese manufacturers are not always less expensive and can be difficult to work with. Work that goes to China sometimes comes back, or goes to Mexico. Control over your manufacturing process is sometimes more important than per unit cost.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:54AM (#33203654)

    If you are tossing around Kyoto as what needs to be done this means one of two things:

    1) You are not very well informed about how it actually works, and how nations are doing with it. You are being an idealist about it, not considering the reality.

    2) You just dislike the US, and figure they should suffer.

    The reason I say this is because Kyoto is completely worthless. Not just because certain nations are exempt, but because the nations who have signed on don't have to give a shit either. Any nation can walk on it at any time, no consequences. So what you see is places like Russia, who's economic collapse has made it easy to meet Kyoto goals patting themselves on the back about it, for now, and places like Canada just ignoring it. What, Canada, one of the driving forces behind it? Yep. Canada has been doing jack and shit to meet its Kyoto commitments and as such is considering simply bailing on it (

    Kyoto is a sham, a way for politicians to pat themselves on the back and accomplish nothing in the long run. The US is just one of the few nations that wasn't hypocritical about it and just refused to sign on. Perhaps this is simple politics (though the Senate voted it down 98-0 when it came up, they have to ratify treaties by US law) or perhaps it is because US law places a higher weight on treaties than some places, or perhaps it was simple pragmatism. Whatever the case that the US isn't signed on to Kyoto just means they are being honest about it.

  • Re:Playing Civ (Score:2, Interesting)

    by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@g m a> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:01AM (#33203736) Homepage Journal []

    Its the oldest civilization in the world and the only one that has managed to hold together and not desintigrate with time.

  • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:40AM (#33204216)
    You forget that a reduction in waste is an increase in efficiency. In "going green", China but lays the foundation for a dynasty whose duration and global reach would make Li Yuan, the founder of the Tang Dynasty, become a monk in shame at the myopia of his vision.

    The U.S. will dwindle into insignificance, because too many believe that the individual pursuit of power/wealth trumps the interests of the nation and the people.

    Put another way, individual greed in the U.S. has been allowed to achieve primacy, so our nation herds cats, while China trains a tiger.
  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:01AM (#33204400)

    They are the worlds largest manufacturer of wind power equipment and has put serious efforts into solar, wind, energy crops, has this written into law and they even (gasp!) signed the Kyoto protocol the US took a dump on.

    1) They have no obligations under the Kyoto Treaty, so signing it was just a matter of finding a pen.

    2) Did you notice that "reduce carbon emissions by 2020 to 40% below 2005 levels per unit output? Kyoto, if you recall, requires a reduction below 1995 levels. Not a reduction per unit output, but a flat reduction. What the Chinese are promising to do here is to increase their carbon output slightly less slowly than they're increasing it now - and they're already the largest carbon emitter....

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @01:32PM (#33206382) Homepage Journal

    Lets say you buy (over a period of years) $10,000 worth of cheap but environmentally irresponsible goods. The "green" products would cost $20,000. Then your child comes down with asthma triggered by rampant pollution and you spend $30,000 in medical bills and everyone's insurance premiums go up. That was an awfully expensive $10,000 savings.

    So genuinely green products can indeed be cheaper. Note that one really quick way to make something "green" is to make it last longer so it doesn't end up in the landfill.

    The problem is pseudo-green. That's what happens when we let a bunch of know-nothings write the regulations based more on political games than on science and engineering.

    As for the cookware, was it really so critical that the handle be cadmium yellow? I had no idea that the handle color affected cooking so much. When those pans end up in the landfill, the lead will leech into the groundwater. But what the heck, soldering probably cost $0.01/unit less than welding and only cut the durability in half...

    What brand was that? I'd like to avoid it.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982