Tagged: china
China in Latin America: Seeking a Path Toward Sustainable Development
| January 28, 2016 | 3:49 pm | Tufts Environmental Studies Department | Comments closed

Rebecca Ray, a fellow at the Global Economic Governance Initiative at Boston University, spoke to the weekly Tufts environmental science Lunch and Learn about her research on the social impacts of Chinese investment in Latin American development. The two main questions in Ray’s research are:

  1. Has China been an independent driver of environmental and social change in the region?
  2. Do Chinese investors have different behavior from their international peers?

These questions were answered through a series of eight case studies of Chinese investment in different countries and industries from oil extraction in Colombia and mining in Bolivia to soybean agriculture in Brazil.

Findings show that China has been an independent driver of environmental and social change by quickly meeting most local standards with the right oversight. There has also been an effect of developers pushing governments to lower their environmental and social standards for resource extraction, so there are crucial roles for Latin American government officials and civil society to protect the environment and the people who reside in and alongside it. Luckily, in most cases the “pollution haven” model does not apply as Latin American countries tend to have higher standards than China.

Figure 1 below, from Ray and the Global Economic Governance Institute’s paper “China and Latin America: Lessons for a South-South Cooperation and Sustainable Development,” shows China’s share of Latin American exports over time, illustrating China’s increasing power in the region.

Figure 6 from the same publication shows the average environmental impacts of exports to China as compared with all exports, showing a much higher ecological footprint for Chinese exports. This doesn’t even cover the effect of the roads created for development projects. Every dam, mine and railway project must first build roads to deliver supplies. Once roads are built, according to Ray, new towns are developed along them that further deplete natural resources, totally separate from the extractive industry for which the roads were initially built.

Jobs generated due to exports to China are illustrated in Figure 5 below, which has been decreasing over time.

The map below demonstrates the fine line these developments must (but often don’t, especially without proper oversight) straddle between areas of immense and protected biodiversity, lands occupied by indigenous peoples, and a state’s desire for outside investment into its eonomy.

Luckily, according to Ray, Chinese investors in development are often better behaved than their peers when high environmental standards are enforced. Latin American governments have a responsibility for holding extractive industries accountable, as showcased by a lawsuit against Sinopec (a Chinese petroleum and chemical corporation) in Colombia in which the judge placed much of the blame on regulators for ineffective oversight. In cases of strong and effective oversight, regulations were followed successfully with minimal protest from surrounding communities. Pushback from civil society, as seen below, is a logical outcome when government can’t always be held accountable. This in particular when, in times of economic slowdown, governments will tend to loosen environmental regulations to spur increased investment.

Ray’s talk closed out with recommendations to Latin American governments, the Chinese government, and Chinese development banks: Don’t erode environmental safeguards, prioritize dialogue with civil society, train investors in development behavior that complies with international standards, and learn from previous experience.


UEP Colloquium: Visiting Scholar Yuting Liu
| November 17, 2014 | 2:49 pm | Colloquium | Comments closed

The Urban Poor and Low-Income Neighborhoods in Chinese Large Cities

Yuting Liu, visiting scholar and professor of urban planning at the South China Institute of Technology in Guangzhou, presented his research on patterns of urban poverty in Chinese large cities to the Tufts UEP community. Yuting Liu has published extensively on the issue of new urban poverty during the transition from China’s planned economy to one that is more market oriented. Specifically, Yuting’s research deals with the socio-spatial pattern of poverty. This presentation is important as UEP strives to extend its studies to incorporate international planning issues.

Yuting gave a brief history of his studies, which began with China’s recent development from a planned economy to a powerful market economy. This transition improved conditions among the rural poor. 250 million people were living in rural poverty in 1978, down to 30 million in 2000. Urban areas, however, have seen a widening gap between the rich and the poor, with new urban poor and rural migrants located in particular areas of the city.

He breaks the issue up into two distinct features: the new urban poor (urban hokou) and rural migrants (rural hokou). Economic restructuring and reform of state-owned enterprises resulted in large-scale layoffs, which, in addition to many poorly educated young people and single parent families, contributes to a high degree of urban poverty. poor, rural migrants to big cities represent another source of urban poverty. Former farmers are either migrating to the city, or, surprisingly, cities expand to the point that they envelop entire farming villages. Considered outsiders, the rural hokou are frequently marginalized, undocumented, and unaware of their rights as city residents.

In socialist China, there was very little geographical pattern to its urban poverty. With market reforms, China is seeing poor communities concentrate in particular areas of its cities. Yuting used Nanjing(population ~8 million) as an example in his study. Traditional port and industrial neighborhoods near the Yangtze River, such as Mufushan and Baotaqiao, and dilapidated urban districts like Jiankanglu and Nanhu have experienced a concentrated presence of new urban poverty. Poor rural migrants, on the other hand, concentrate on the urban fringes and inner suburbs.

Many poor and dilapidated neighborhoods have been torn down in order to construct new affordable housing settlements. In theory, this should provide some relief to the new urban poor, but settlements have mostly been constructed in the suburbs. Since the new housing is far from access to services and facilities in the inner cities, residents still face hardships in moving out of poverty.

Responding to questions, Yuting contrasted Chinese poverty with that seen in the United States. China sees a far greater level of rural to urban migrants, whereas the United States has more issues with international immigration. There is not as much of an ethnic, racial, or religious component to poverty patterns in China as in the United States. The vast majority of those living in major cities are Han Chinese, so discrimination is often based on regionalism or rural/urban distinctions. Notably, Yuting claims that large Chinese cities see remarkably little informal informal housing development, few slums and shantytowns, especially as compared with other developing powerhouses like India and Brazil. This, Yuting claims, can be attributed to the fact that urban land is publicly owned.

A fascinating discussion, bringing to light issues of international urban planning and development. The next colloquium will be on Wednesday, December 3, featuring Boston’s Chief of Economic Development and former director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, John Barros. We will meet, as usual, at 12pm in Sophia Gordon Hall. Note that there will be no colloquium this week or next week. See you there!

Mona Funiciello ’11: Urban Water Planning in China and India
| June 9, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

Mona Funiciello ’11 wrote this report for professor Weiping Wu’s new class on International Planning and Urban Policy. The class covers a broad range of topics, offering a comparative analysis of planning practices and urban policies in both developing and industrialized countries around the world. This paper addresses issues and solutions in planning for water security in the cities of China and India. For more water-related areas at UEP, you can also check out the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) certificate program.

Weiping recently joined the department and brings expertise in migration and urban dynamics in developing countries, especially China. Weiping will be teaching the Foundations class this fall, required for all first-year students.