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China’s Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability

The People’s Republic of China experiences considerable GDP growth. The claim can be proven with the corresponding statistics. Starting from 1992, the state has average of 10 % of GDP growth annually (OECD, 2013). The situation changed after the global economic crisis of 2008. The challenges caused the decline of economic growth to 8% (OECD, 2013). The data is even more formidable while being compared to the negative or neutral economic growth of the leading states after the crisis of 2008. Without a doubt, the rapid development of China inevitably leads to gaining more power in a world arena. Nevertheless, fast economic growth is accompanied with many challenges. A particular interest corresponds to unethical issue of the lack of environmental sustainability. In other words, the increase of monetary fund and global influence of China are achieved at a loss of resources. Besides, unreasonable approaches towards rapid enrichment cause excessive pollution that endangers the well-being of the citizens as well as negatively affects the rest of the world. Therefore, China is at risk of experiencing the difficulties in communication with the international community if it does not introduce the sustainable environmental policy. Additionally, unethical approach may cause problems for domestic economy, which may deteriorate the life quality of the Chinese. Therefore, China should acknowledge the magnitude of current and prospected problems that result from the ethical dilemma of favoring profits over global environmental sustainability. 

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The Arguments

China exceeds the permissible level of pollution and consumption of resources, which is a dangerous tendency that should be considered by the global community. The statistics provided by World Wild Fund for Nature (2014) claim that “China’s overall Ecological Footprint is 2.5 times its own biocapacity” (p. 4). The insight reveals two assumptions. Firstly, the state’s unsustainable policy is hazardous for the rest of the world. Secondly, in a long run, drained resources will result in a number of significant domestic economic and social issues. Given the rationale, China is encouraged to enhance its environmental sustainability in order to protect the well-being of citizens and decrease the adverse effects on the other states’ ecologies. The negotiation of the problem may grow into international tension, which is highly undesirable for potential prosperity of the Chinese economy. For instance, it may cause financial losses that stem from the lack of a positive reputation. Moreover, social and cultural international relations can become complicated. China claims to have an open policy towards the developed and developing countries, towards the East and West. In order to maintain the same beneficial rhetoric, the state requires demonstrating in practice the care for the rest of the world. Thus, it should not pick present profits over ethical approaches to the future global environmental sustainability. 

In addition, the modern tendency of economic globalization presumes the consolidation of businesses and formation of multinational corporations. The trend is accompanied by the process of erasing the borders and cultural differences. China is known to be one of the leading countries that welcomes economic and cultural globalization, and utilizes the phenomena as a change to attract capital and boost domestic economy. Nonetheless, the aspirations can be clouded with the above-identified unacceptable approach to the ecological footprint. The assessment of the magnitude of the issue from financial perspective considers the following statistics. It is estimated that “every 1000 USD of Chinese consumption generates about four and a half times more Ecological Footprint than the US and UK and over twice as much as South Africa” (World Wild Fund for Nature, 2014, p.4). The aforementioned regions are taken for comparison as two developed economies and one developing state. As statistics reveals, in both cases China’s ethical approach to favor financial sustainability over environmental sustainability is wicked. The situation worsens further if it is not timely acknowledged, accounted for, and changed. In other words, adhering to globalization without preserving the reputation of a safe, reliable, and sustainable partner is impossible for China. 

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On the other hand, the world community vocalized the idea that China should implement more reasonable and eco-friendly programs that should lessen its ecological footprint. However, the statement does not mean that the other countries care about its further financial prosperity more or less than China. For instance, China should not pose ecological danger for other countries; however, the rest of the world does not account for the financially sustainable ways of accomplishing the environmental goals. On the contrary, 

there also seems to be considerable fundamental distrust of China’s long-term objectives, based on an apparent assumption that if China gains control of resources then they will be transferred back to China for China’s sole use, rather than being sold on into global markets for anybody to buy (Breslin, n. d., p. 21).

The assumption suggests that China may consider finding and controlling suppliers of resources from abroad instead of over consuming the local natural substances. Indeed, outsourcing or insourcing is a reasonable approach to lessen negative ecological footprint. As a result, China can protect domestic economy from collapse and eliminate bad reputation of environmentally unsustainable country. Moreover, scholars claim that the increase of import of food and various household products is feasible. The strategy does not threaten financial prosperity of the state (OECD, 2013). However, the approach dispels the argument that being environmentally sustainable is unavoidably connected with considerable financial losses. Thus, it is not an appropriate step for a country with rapidly developing economic. 

The decision about the possibility of the alternative resource suppliers should be taken in the near future, because enhanced buying capacity of the Chinese people resonates with the global tendency of increased consumerism. In other words, people begin to consume more goods and services, which results in direct and indirect effect on the ecological situation. It is not surprising that a state as big as China experiences great negative externalities of consumption that may even lead to environmental, economic, and social collapse. Under the challenging conditions, the ethical dilemma intensifies because consumerism is a remedy of enrichment. Thus, the phenomenon may have a positive effect on a state economy. Consumerism encourages money turnover and, as a result, increases the rate of economic development. Nevertheless, the side effects become more prominent simultaneously with the intensification of the process. 

Without a doubt, China’s government should seriously consider the necessity to decrease the negative environmental externalities of consumption. The reports indicate that people use more cars that increase the emissions of harmful chemicals (OECD, 2013). Additionally, the growing consumption of various technology devices has a negative effect on the local eco system (OECD, 2013). One of the relevant steps is to increase the price and taxes for products that are positively correlated with the increased ecological footprint. Otherwise, the lack of eco-friendly policies will result in the deterioration of people’s health. 

A conjunctive issue is the combination of the negative externalities of production, which is even more prominent than the adverse effects of consumption. Indeed, China constantly increases industrial production for export. Undoubtedly, the development approach intensifies economic boost. On the other hand, it greatly pollutes the nature and complicates the renewability of resources. For example, despite making considerable investment in innovative technologies, the significant share of industries still use fossil fuels (OECD, 2013). Fossil fuel “creates global warming when burnt and, when burnt inefficiently, creates small particles that are a major concern for public health” (OECD, 2013, p. 7). Therefore, the occurrence of negative externalities contributes to the development of different illnesses. The premise suggests that government’s expenditure for health sector need to increase. However, the strategy is an undesirable perspective, since it affects domestic economy. Thus, it becomes clear that ecological footprint not only affects the state (and indirectly the rest of the world) through drained resources and polluted nature, but also may disturb human resources. Therefore, considering all above-mentioned negative externalities of production and consumption, China must adopt and implement eco-friendly approaches that support economic development without significant ecological costs. 

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Unreasonable consumption of resources stipulates the occurrence of the biocapacity deficit (World Wild Fund for Nature, 2014). It is a considerable problem that a state government should invest to resolve. A country experiences the effects of the negative reputation connected with the corresponding label. Since economic growth requires resources, it is natural to suggest that their scarcity will inhabit GDP growth. The adverse outcome can be especially tangible if the possibility is not timely anticipated and prevented. As a result, the credit rating of a state with biocapacity deficit will be decreased. The factor significantly deteriorates the process of capital inflow. Therefore, China must understand that the increase of short-run profits that stem from unacceptable overuse of resources and excessive pollution may turn into economic decline in a few decades. The conclusion displays the complexity of the presented ethical issue of financial versus ecological responsibility. As the rationale suggests, it is more appropriate to foresee and estimate the middle and long-run perspectives and guide economic development strategies accordingly. The decision may cause certain distress and even financial losses in a short-term perspective. However, within the time, it will turn into ethically responsible approach in financial and environmental terms. 

The discussed ethical dilemma of putting profits above environmental sustainability is clearly visible in state’s approach towards rapid urbanization. Undoubtedly, the process endangers local flora and fauna. The fact is that Chinese government succumbs to the modern trend of neo-liberalism, which suggests giving more freedom for businesses. The development of enterprises requires resources that can be turned into capital. Also, the suburbs of big cities provide the abundance of needed resources. Therefore, the consolidation of cities (urbanization) is subordinated to the global processes of economic liberalization. The tendency has a positive impact and provides good profits. However, in a case of a limited control, it may result in the increased ecological issues with adverse effect on the local nation and the rest of the world. 

World Wild Fund for Nature (2014) states that “urbanization is a major driving force of China’s ecological overshoot” (p.5). The issues that follow urbanization overlap with the above-discussed negative externalities of consumption and production. Urbanization is interdependent with the increased consumerism. Moreover, the two notions complement one another. As a result, China is reported to have the highest level of carbon emissions that occur due to the excess production and consumption (World Wild Fund for Nature, 2014). Consequently, the negative statistics proves the wicked decision to choose short-term financial prosperity over the medium- and long-run environmental costs of the selected approach. Therefore, China should consider implementing less eco-aggressive ways towards enrichment. 

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Another piece of evidence that displays the inappropriate resolution of the discussed ethical dilemma is unequal dispersion of financing. Specifically, the Chinese society endures “a relative decline of cultural, education and recreational services as a proportion of the economy, indicating their relatively slow development compared to resource intensive industries” (World Wild Fund for Nature, 2014, p.5). State policy has the goal to finance the segments that can bring profits in a short-term perspective. The choice is made at the cost of the educational, social, cultural, and recreational sectors. Thus, the evidence of unethical decision-making resonates with the above-discussed issue of the scarcity and endangerment of natural and human resources. In particular, people are deprived of the rights to recover their health and develop professionally to increase their value in the market. Choosing profits over environmental sustainability is incorrect and unethical. Therefore, China should deploy strategies that can bring profits without considerable negative outcomes. 

The discussion of the adverse effects of eco-aggressive behavior in China points to the danger of water contamination in the state’s reservoirs of fresh water. The increased negative externalities of consumption and production may lead to the unavailability of clean fresh water, if the corresponding policies are not substituted with eco-friendly ones. The water plays significant role in every nation’s survival. The biggest cities, as well as small towns, are built based on the accessibility of fresh water as the main factor. From the ancient times, development of the Chinese civilization strongly connected to abundance of fresh water. It was used as “hydroelectric power, irrigation for food production, water supply for domestic and industrial use and inland navigation for trading” (Lee, 2006, p. 3). In the present times, water is utilized for the same purposes; but population growth, urbanization and other above-discussed factors threaten the future of the state by polluting the fresh water reservoirs. 

As the history reveals, unreasonable utilization of fresh water may result in “hydraulic despotism”, which China has already experienced because of “Mao’s negligence of the sustainable use of natural and environmental resources” (Lee, 2006, p. 3). In order to avoid the repetition of the undesirable scenario, China should preserve its water resources. Finally, considering the magnitude of population increase in the state, the ecological problem combined with water contamination will be not only national but also a global issue in the nearest future. 

The major accent of the paper is that China must anticipate the potential threats of ecological activities. The country should consider the volume of current and plausible issues stipulated by ethical dilemma of putting financial interests of the state over environmental sustainability. There are a number of arguments that prove the value of the change of approaches. Firstly, reducing ecological footprint will help avoiding tension in international relations with other states, especially with the regions that strive to be environmentally sustainable. Secondly, ecological responsibility will contribute to the conformity with the process of economic and cultural globalization, which results in increased profits and better possibilities for cultural and social development. In order to avoid the failure of domestic economy, China should decrease the negative externalities of consumption and production. One of the relevant ways to accomplish the task is to find foreign suppliers for sparing own resources. The second option is to increase the prices and taxes for the categories of goods that cause additional pollution. The two approaches can align economic development with the eco-friendly course of actions without significant financial losses. In addition, China needs to avoid biocapacity deficit, unequal dispersion of financing, and “hydraulic despotism”. The three phenomena are closely related with contemporary Chinese unsustainable policy. Finally, a conjunctive issue of rapid urbanization should be also taken under control because it produces significant negative outcomes for local dwellers, as well as for flora and fauna. China should adopt ethical approach towards economic growth and contribute to the international effort to preserve global nature and own resources. 

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