China will spend over the next five years $175 billion dollars on the environment. This number, according to the BBC, is about 1.5% of China’s annual economic output (my italics).
So let me do my math: is not that equal to 0.3% of its current annual economic output each year? $175 billion sure sounds like a lot of money but it really isn’t if you think about it. That’s about one hundred US dollars for each person living in China over five years, or about twenty US dollars each year for the five years.
I think the people of China and environment will need much more than that to reverse the damage this country has already caused. So what is this new face of China anyway? Why now? Perhaps we should keep in mind that two years from now, in 2008, a very big money spinner called the Olympic Games will be hosted by Beijing.
Environmental sensitivity is sure a great place for public relations these days. Even better than, say, human rights. China, of course, is trying to deflect attention from its own track record on this issue. And what better way than to look good in one area that many find hard to criticise. So, to me, the new face of China is really an old one. It is only a face lift, one that has been done fairly well but somehow you still know its fake.