China and its Rare Earths Dilemma – Part 2/2

March 21, 2012

In January 2011 (more than a year ago), Reuters reported, “China has said other countries should share the burden of mining the metals. Illegal mining practices and over-exporting rare earths have hurt China’s environment and depleted its resources.”

After the recent threat by President Obama and the West’s media coverage of China regarding rare earth metals, it appears that other countries do not want to share that burden even if they will not admit it.

As the following video points out, the US has the third largest reserves of rare earth elements. However, US companies, unable to compete and under fire from US regulators for sloppy environmental practices, shut down leaving it up to China to pollute its environment while supplying the world with rare-earth metals.

As you are discovering, this story of rare earth metals is more complex than what the media is reporting.  For example, in February, according to a recent 2012 Gallup poll, Iran was considered Americans greatest enemy with China earning second place.

In this pole, Gallop’s asked, “What one country anywhere in the world do you consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy today?”

The results: Iran earned 32% of the vote, and China had 23% for second place followed by North Korea with 10%. Afghanistan snagged fourth place with 7%.

Gallup says, “More Americans mention China as the United States’ greatest enemy (23%) this year than at any point in the 11-year history of the question, likely reflecting at least in part Americans’ concern over China’s global economic influence. Last year, China tied North Korea for second place, but mentions of North Korea have declined, leaving China alone in second place in 2012.”

If Gallup’s annual World Affairs poll, conducted February 2-5, mirrors public opinion in the US, then why does America depend so much on China to supply rare earths for its global high-tech war on terroism?

It isn’t as if America doesn’t have its own supply of rare earth metals — the US has an ample supply, but due to harsh environmental laws that deal with pollution, it is too expensive to mine and produce these rare earths in the US and cheaper to let China do it even if it does pollute China’s environment leading to criticism from the American media and Western bloggers that use computers and smart phones that would not exist without China’s rare earths. Do you see the irony and hypocrisy here?


Is China America’s new enemy?

If you doubt that America does have an ample supply of rare earths, then read this report released by the Natural Resources Committee – US Congress on November 17, 2010.

Once all the facts are known, it appears that the US federal government does not agree with the 72 million Americans that believe China is our second greatest enemy. In fact, America’s leaders may not see China as an enemy at all but prefer that many Americans continue to feel this way. The answer why may be found in the US  Department of Defense, which has the largest slice of the US federal Budget. According to US Government Spending.com, the defense department’s slice of that pie is 24% or $ 901.4 billion US.

After all, without a boogieman to scare US citizens and give them nightmares that America has serious enemies, where is the justification to continue this massive defense spending, which may soon bankrupt America?

Return to China and its Rare Earth Dilemma – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Is China a Republic? – Part 2/4

January 23, 2012

It appears that democracies come in several types. According to Democracy Building.info, there are three basic types of democracy—the Direct Democracy [ex. Switzerland], the Presidential Democracy [ex. USA, France] and the Parliamentary Democracy [ex. UK, Germany, Spain, Italy].

As for checks and balances, the parliamentary system offers few effective checks and balances [remember that China doesn’t offer checks and balances either].

In the UK, the Prime Minister, as head of state, is not elected. He or she is the leader of the majority party and may stay in power as long as his or her party is the majority. One of the main criticisms of many parliamentary systems is that the head of government is in almost all cases not directly elected by the people.

There are two types of parliamentary systems.  One is the unicameral system, which means it only has one single house or parliament. Forty-four countries fit this description. Examples are Denmark, Finland, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey.

Then there is the bicameral system [thirty-three countries] of a parliamentary government, which has two houses, an upper and a lower chamber. Examples of this form of democracy are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the European Union, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Let’s see how China’s type of government compares and decide if it is a democracy, republic or a dictatorship.


Democracy From the Bottom Up (The Carter Center)

The Carter Center says, “More than 600,000 villages across China are participating in a national movement toward meaningful democracy—democracy from the bottom up—in a communist nation of 1.3 billion people. For more than a decade, at the invitation of the Chinese government, The Carter Center has aided this effort by helping to standardize election practices among villages and by promoting good governance and citizen participation.”

According to Rural Life in China at Facts and Details.com, “the 2010 census [reported that], 51.3 percent of China’s population lives in rural areas. This is down from 63.9 percent in the 2000 census, which used a different counting system, and over 95 percent in the 1920s. There are around 800 million rural peasants and migrant workers—roughly, 500 million farmers and 300 million to 400 million excess unskilled rural laborers… There are around 1 million villages in China, about one third of the world’s total.  Each village has an average of 916 people.”

That means about 549.6 million rural Chinese vote in democratic village elections every three years.

By contrast, in the 2010 US national election 37.8% (90.6 million) of the voting-age population turned out, and in 2008 only 56.8% (132.6 million) did.  In 2008, the voting age population was 231.2 million and in 2010, it was almost 236 million.  If the majority of people do not vote in an election, does that mean the democracy is broken?

I recommend reading Rural Life in China at Facts and Details.com.  It is well balanced and points out the way it was and the way it is.  Although I did not read every word, I didn’t see any China bashing going on. It was not an indictment of China. However, I am sure a critic [read that enemy] of China could easily cherry pick this article and select a few pull quotes to support more misleading mudslinging at the CCP while ignoring what life was like in rural China before 1949.

Continued on January 24, 2012 in Is China a Republic – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Economic Health of BRICS – Part 5/7

January 15, 2012

It may be no secret that China’s economic health will have an impact on the rest of the BRICS countries in addition to America and Europe. India and China need the resources of Brazil, Russia and South Africa and those three countries prosper due to the business from India and China.

For a better understanding of the BRICS, I turned to Investopedia for a definition, which said, “The BRIC thesis posits that China and India will become the world’s dominant suppliers of manufactured goods and services, respectively, while Brazil and Russia will become similarly dominant as suppliers of raw materials.

“It is important to note that the Goldman Sachs thesis isn’t that these countries are a political alliance (like the European Union) or a formal trading association – but they have the potential to form a powerful economic bloc…”

Due to lower labor and production costs, many companies also see the BRICS as a source of foreign expansion opportunities.

In addition, what was once only an acronym has become something else.

Although the BRIC acronym came into existence in 2001 when there was no real political organization among the four original countries, on June 16, 2009, due to the 2008 global financial crises, the leaders of the four BRIC countries held their first summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, and issued a joint declaration. Since then, they met in Brasilia in 2010 and again in Sanya, China in 2011.

In 2010, South Africa launched efforts to join the BRIC group, and the process of its formal admission began in August. Later in 2010, the BRIC countries expanded to include South Africa, becoming the BRICS.

The next meeting of the BRICS is scheduled in New Delhi, India, March 2012.

Continued on January 16, 2012 in The Economic Health of BRICS – Part 6 or Return to Part 4

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Expressway Dilemma and the Solution – Part 2/2

August 10, 2011

One element of China’s plan is to not become addicted to foreign oil as the U.S. already has and one-step toward achieving this goal led China to become a partner with Shai Agassi and Better Place — something Washington D.C. has not done.

Time and Foreign Policy magazines recently named Shai Agassi as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.  The reason is that Agassi, an entrepreneur from California, launched a company called Better Place.

Deutsche Bank analysts may have already concluded that the Better Place’s approach to end global “oil” addiction could be a “paradigm shift” that causes “massive disruption” to the auto industry, and has “the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine altogether”.

To achieve a world free of a dependency on oil, Better Place has already partnered with California, Hawaii and Canada, while globally, Better Place is working with Australia, China, Denmark, Israel, Japan and the European Union.

On June 18, 2011, Better Place unveiled Europe’s first battery switching station in Denmark, and you may have noticed that China, as one of Better Place’s partners, is positioning itself to save China from the same fate that has already happened to politically gridlocked Washington D.C.

The station in Denmark, which show cased the company’s battery switching technology, is the first of 20 battery switching stations to be deployed across Denmark over the next nine months.

In the next few years, if successful, Better Place may lower the cost of driving significantly and break big oil’s monopoly on the economies of the world while lowering the cost of cars worldwide by providing an affordable, convenient and sustainable system through a revolutionary switchable battery model.

This means that instead of filling up with gas when the tank is empty, a driver pulls into a Better Place switching station and swaps battery packs in less time than it takes to wait in line and fill a tank with gasoline or diesel.

Return to or start with China’s Expressway Dilemma and the Solution – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Facts about Education — China and the world versus America – Part 3/3

July 30, 2011

Myth:  “American Universities Are Being Overtaken.” (concerning research and development)

ANSWER: “NOT SO FAST.”

Wildavsky says, Asia’s share of the world’s research and development (R&D) spending grew from 27 to 32% from 2002 to 2007, led mostly by China, India, and South Korea.

However, R&D spending worldwide massively surged in the last decade from $790 billion to $1.1 trillion, up 45 percent, and in 2007, the U.S. spent $373 billion (up from $277 billion in 2002) on R&D, which was very high by global standards totaling more than all Asian countries’ combined ($352 billion was spent on R&D in Asia).

Myth: “THE WORLD WILL CATCH UP”

ANSWER: “Maybe, but don’t count on it anytime soon.”

While the global academic marketplace is without doubt growing more competitive, the United States doesn’t have just a few elite schools as most of its foreign competition does, and the U.S. spends about 2.9 percent of its GDP on postsecondary education, about twice the percentage spent by China, the European Union, and Japan in 2006.

If this three part series of posts sparked a curiosity to learn more on this topic, I urge you to take the time and click over to Foreign Policy magazine‘s Website and read all of FP’s Think Again: Education written by Ben Wildavsky.  It’s always nice to discover the facts before you form an opinion or believe someone that does not know what they are talking about. After reading Wildavsky’s piece in FP, it is obvious that America’s schools are not failing and have never been failing and are actually either holding their own or slowly improving.

That doesn’t mean the US should stop working at improving the public education system.  It means that many of the opinions and claims you may read or hear are probably wrong and the key to improving education in the US rests with the parents and not the teachers.

Considering the handicaps and competition teachers in the U.S. public schools face from the average child/adolescent’s poor lifestyles choices while eating horrible diets along with lack of proper sleep and spending far too much time dividing his or her daily hours (more than 10 hours a day on average) watching TV, playing video games, social networking on sites such as Facebook, and sending endless text messages instead of reading and studying, the evidence says American teachers are doing an incredible job.

Return to Facts about Education – Part 2 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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The “BRICS” Emerging Powers Summit

June 22, 2011

On April 14, 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao and leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa (countries now known as the BRICS) met on the far southern Chinese island-province of Hainan Island.

The most telling result of the summit was the decision to refuse mutual payments in US dollars. This means that the BRICS countries will give credits to one another in their national currencies and the development banks of these countries have signed an agreement about a further gradual withdrawal from loans in American dollars.

The move opened lines of credit in these countries national currencies in order to dilute their overreliance on the U.S. dollar as the BRICS seeks more independence from American political influence.

In addition, China and India agreed to reestablish defense ties and initiate closer border cooperation. China also agreed to deepen its “strategic partnership” with Russia. The biggest gains to come out of this summit may be the BRIC access to Africa due to its newest member, South Africa.

The BRICS nations now accounts for over 40% of the world’s population, but only 18% of its GDP in 2010 and the IMF says the BRIC nations will account for 21.6% of the world’s GDP by 2015, while the International Business Times reports that these nations are expected to represent 47% of the world’s GDP by 2030.


Aljazeera English says, “While many developed nations are struggling with the aftermath of the global recession, the economies led by the leaders of the BRICS nations are still booming.”

Another way to look at this is to compare the BRICS with the GDPs and labor force of the European Union and the United States.

We often hear that the United States has the largest GDP in the world, which was $14.72 trillion in 2010 with a labor force of 154.9 million as estimated by the CIA World Factbook.

The CIA World Factbook listed the European Union (probably due to the Euro) as the world’s largest economy at $14.89 trillion with a workforce of 225.2 million (2009 est.).

When we combine the GDPs and the labor force of the BRICS nations, we see a combined GDP of $21.079 trillion and a labor force of almost 1.5 billion people.  If the BRICS developed a standard currency as the European Union has done that would create the largest economy on the planet with largest work force.

The BRICS is also calling for a greater say on the UN Security Council, which only China and Russia have a permanent seat on now.

Goldman Sachs investment banker Jim O’Neill to highlight Brazil, China, Russia and India’s similarities in terms of their potential for development and growth, created the term BRIC. South Africa was not a member at the time.

To discover more about the BRIC/S see Move Over America, the BRIC is Coming, The Growing BRICs, Brazil’s Growth Depends on China and China Reaching out to South Africa

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.