A Journalistic Insight into the Rise and Rise of China

Unlike most TV and Internet News bulletins, the best sort of journalism INFORMS in depth and offers food for thought. Here (IMHO) is a very good example by Carole Cadwalladr (UK. The Guardian / The Observer.) It concentrates on a single aspect of China’s phenomenal development and offers an insight into the future impact of China’s growth on its own environment and lifestyle as well as on the world economy.

(Please) See:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/06/china.automotive

Enticing excerpts:

“Estimates vary, but it is believed that around 30 in every 1,000 people in China own a vehicle, which, as the New Yorker has pointed out, is roughly what it was in the US in 1915. The potential for growth is the stuff of an automobile executive’s dreams. And an environmentalist’s worst nightmare. North-east China already has the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution anywhere in the world.”

…..

“… cars – and the Chinese appetite both for buying them and for making them – is simply a metaphor for the new power relations between East and West. Our environmental concerns – read rank hypocrisy – at the idea of the Chinese owning as many cars as we do, and our dismay that they can produce them better than we ever could – read consumerist glee at how cheap they’ll be – is part of a global shift we’re powerless to resist.”

“China has just 2 per cent of the world’s cars, yet 21 per cent of its fatal traffic accidents. Every single day, 1,200 new cars take to the streets of Beijing, the vast majority of them driven by complete novices. In Britain, the equivalent would involve our entire motorway system being used only by 17-year-old boys.”

“Until the 1990s, you couldn’t book a train ticket or a hotel without special dispensation. The myth of the open road isn’t a myth here; owning a car is a direct expression of the new freedoms that the country enjoys. Those ads showing a man in charge of his destiny swooping along an empty mountain road? He’s the Republic of China. Or he would be if anybody went any further than the supermarket in their new runarounds.”

“To own a car in China is already to be rich beyond the dream of most people. But as any good Western consumer knows, this is not enough. What kind of car you own speaks volumes in any country, let alone in one whose business dealings revolve around the concept of ‘face’ – keeping it, losing it.”

“And it’s here that the likes of General Motors and Porsche hope to make a killing. In 2006, GM had its worst ever year in the US; in China, on the other hand, sales were up 80 per cent. China is the largest market for BMW in the world, even though the cars are nearly twice as expensive as in Europe thanks to 83.2 per cent tax. Bill Cheng, the managing director of Bentley China, tells me that growth last year was 94 per cent and almost looks disappointed. ‘The year before it was 100 per cent,’ he says.”

“Growth is phenomenal, but it may become more phenomenal still. A million more cars are likely to be added to the roads this year, but to catch up with ownership levels in the US would involve the addition of 750 million cars. Environmental Armageddon, although maybe it’s here that the cleaner, greener car will finally be cracked.”

“Eight million vehicles, including light trucks and minivans, were bought in China last year. This represented a 25 per cent rise on the previous year and saw the country overtake Japan to become the second largest car market in the world.”

“Four-fifths of all new cars sold in China are bought by people who have never had a car before.”

“China has just 3 per cent of the world’s cars, yet 21 per cent of its fatal traffic accidents.”

“More people aspire to own a car but do not currently own one in China than in any other country.

1,200 new cars take to the streets of Beijing every day.

According to a BBC report, only six in every 100 Chinese people own cars, compared with 80 per cent in the UK.”

If you are interested in the future, PLEASE see the rest of this enlightening article. (And ask why your commercial TV does not supply such data for your consideration.)

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