I wish I could boycott China

Friday, 20th June 2008 at 12:19 UTC 1 comment

Well, there’s been allegations that 1000 people are still missing after the Tibetan uprising earlier this year, but thats not why I’ve written the above title, even if such a response seems quite reasonable for a country with so much contempt to indigenous culture. I’m also aware that with so much of our ‘stuff’ coming from China, it would be almost impossible to boycott the country (just checked computer keybord, oh dear!). No, the reason I want to boycott china is actually quite bizarre as boycotts go: not because they’ve done something, but because I have done something.

The argument is incredibly well rehearsed: we can do nothing to reduce CO2 output while China builds a power station every week, so why bother trying. Even if the output per person is still lower than European and North American levels, China as a country is emitting huge amounts of CO2, so its their problem, right?

I’m amazed at this argument. It seems people just can’t see the carbon in the goods they for granted. If one tied the amount of carbon produced to every product, most of that carbon would leave China – not all by any means, but most – and most of it would wash up in the West. If it wasn’t for our compulsive consumption tendencies, China wouldn’t be making half the things its making and if it wasn’t for the economic battle to seek out lower wages and cheaper production, again, China wouldn’t be using all that power.

If we made the things we use in this country, we’d need to massively increase the number of power stations we run in order to provide power to those factories, and we’d have even higher CO2 emissions to tackle. As it is, China’s emissions are ours to tackle: ours because we have outsourced the work, and with the work, the emissions. We’ve ‘externalized’ the damage to borrow some modern office-speak. Its the responsibility of companies in china, despite the fact they are contracted into producing these emissions by western firms. We simply can’t take ownership can we?

China’s emissions are our fault. They are the result of our consumption, our demands, our belligerence and ignorance. To place the blame at China’s feet is simply to re-create the worst of globalisation: the externalising of risk, of poverty, of menial tasks that simply server to make our lives easier. And as this world becomes harder to survive in, any real pursuit of justice must start by cutting those cords of oppression. Made in China, Consumed thoughtlessly in Britain.

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Entry filed under: Asia, China, Climate Change, Development, Economics, Environment, Materialism, Politics, Technology.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Matthew  |  Tuesday, 24th June 2008 at 20:05 UTC

    Good point, and to be honest I hadn’t thought of it in that way before, yes we are part of the cause of Chinas CO2 etc.

    but on the other hand, that doesn’t excuse their blatant abuse of human rights highlighted by the Tibetan issue (I have to declare an interest here because Free Tibet is an issue very close to my heart, which is party why we chose a Tibetan name for our shop).

    Not only that China actually have NO animal welfare laws – hence they are one of the worlds leading Fur producers – and do not deny that cats and dogs are skinned alive to produce the cheapest possible fur – as Ghandi said “You can judge a country and their moral progress by the way they treat their animals” – on that basis China scores 0/10.

    So yes, China is definately worth boycotting, but as you implied, it is very difficult to do, as boycotts go, because so much of the stuff we use is made in China .

    Best bet is whenever we have a clear choice of buying something that is from China or an alternative that is not from China, choose the alternative.

    Reply

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