Exporting Smog and Surveillance: China Continues To Remake The World In Its Own Image

220px-Factory_in_China250px-Surveillance_quevaalA new report from the World Health Organization details how 7 million people are dying from air pollution every year and 40 percent of those are dying from China’s pollution. Too often, politicians treat pollution as just some trade off for jobs, but it has a more lethal cost that most people do not appreciate. China is the nightmare scenario of that environmental meltdown as we have previously discussed. At the same time, China is exported its surveillance technology to help nations like Ethiopia suppressed dissent and free speech.

According to the WHO, air pollution now causes more deaths worldwide than AIDS, diabetes and road injuries combined.

Chinese air pollution is now degrading the air of other countries and radically increasing the death toll.

The air is now so bad that there is a new market of bottles of fresh air for tourists; Of course, now that Chinese can see sunsets on huge screens you can enjoy your canned air while watching your projected sunset.

Of course, the United States has lost the ability to object to surveillance abuses after the wholesale attack on privacy by President Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush. However, China is now exporting its surveillance technology to other authoritarian governments or despot wannabes. Ethiopia’s government is deploying Chinese cyber and phone surveillance technologies from China to crackdown on dissent. Here is one of the poorest nations on Earth but it is accepting food aid while spending money to suppress dissent. The technology is from Chinese telecom giant ZTE and allows for monitoring of social media, phone, and Internet communications. Other nations like Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are following suit with the creation of surveillance states.

Ironically, the two exports of China, smog and surveillance, have proven incompatible elements for the China. The surveillance services are complaining that the smog is preventing their surveillance of citizens. However, it has been sold as a protection against spying by other countries who cannot penetrate the lethal levels of smog. Of course, under the shroud, Chinese are dying in the worker’s paradise.

It would be wonderful if the United States could actually take the lead in criticism of this trend but we have been silenced by our own towering hypocrisy. That is what the last two presidents have frittered away: not just our rights but our credibility.

Likewise, the Chinese are citing Australia’s reversal on climate change pollutants (and here) under the conservative Abbott administration as justification to back off its own limited promises to curtail those pollutants. Even though Abbott (who once called climate change theories “absolute crap”) was reversed by the legislature, he can take credit for giving the Chinese an excuse for not imposing needed measures like a pollution tax.

Source: Bloomberg and CS Monitor

29 thoughts on “Exporting Smog and Surveillance: China Continues To Remake The World In Its Own Image”

  1. China is exporting surveillance technology, bad China. How about this. From the NYT: When the United Arab Emirates wanted to create its own version of the National Security Agency, it turned to Booz Allen Hamilton to replicate the world’s largest and most powerful spy agency in the sands of Abu Dhabi. BAH sold it all! And some in Congress want to put Snowden in jail or worse? We paid BAH millions may be billions to develop and run the NSA spy apparatus and they get to sell it to the UAE, nice.

    I guess at least the UAE is buying American!

  2. If it says, MADE IN CHINA…
    … It’s a sure bet the pollution produced was unregulated.

    Had it said, MADE IN AMERICA…
    … It would be a more sound bet the pollution produced would be regulated.

    But alas…

  3. @LTMG

    So sorry, I confused “claim” with “assert.” Darn dictionary. Darn Thesaurus.

    And darn those articles I’ve read that equate “for profit” corporations with, um, profit. Surely those corporations whose own declarations state that their primary purpose is profit really meant something other than profit.

    Thank you in advance for explaining why it has nothing to do with profit.

  4. @fiver 7:34 pm. The FT article is correct that the laws and regulations are weakly enforced on Chinese or state owned companies. The FT article is incorrect about few safety or health regulations, but is correct about loosely imposing them on Chinese companies. The regulatory and legal system in China is not lacking, at least in terms of detailed laws and regulations on the books. The rule of law, on the other hand, is sketchy and open to a wide range of influences.

    And sorry, I do not anonymously claim, I anonymously assert. Pass me your e-mail address and I’ll pass you my bona fides.

    Kindly consider reading extensively to learn why companies go to China. The reasons are far more complex than mere profits.

  5. PaulRevereWear

    There was an article on the internet about cow farts. They are an environmental threat. Yet we who eat burgers and steaks promote this.

    But the article was about ignorant comments as a metaphor for threats to good blogging.

  6. There was an article on the internet about cow farts. They are an environmental threat. Yet we who eat burgers and steaks promote this.

  7. nick spinelli

    This country does a good job w/ air quality.

    “The good news: Air has gotten cleaner in recent years. Now the bad: More than half of people in the U.S. still breathe air dirty enough to cause health problems, according to the American Lung Association … 131.8 million people in U.S. live where air gets an F … 24.8 million people in U.S. live where air gets all Fs”
    (State of the Air, Am.Lung Assoc)

  8. @LTMG

    Which would you like first: the “references” or the “citations”? For both I might suggest a simple Google of something like “china manufacturing lax regulations.” Not too tough to to find. As only one example, I might also suggest this Financial Times article which notes:

    The Chinese government imposes few health and safety or environmental regulations on its corporations or remaining state-run enterprises. What rules do exist are only weakly enforced, evaded, or simply ignored.

    Not surprisingly, the lack of a basic regulatory and legal system is viewed as a great virtue by foreign corporations that want to evade much harsher regulatory and legal regimes in their own countries.

    Of course, that’s nothing like personal experience. While I do not anonymously claim on the internet to have lived and worked in China for seven years, I am an accomplished astronaut and have orbited the globe countless times. When in my spacecraft I was able to observe the undeniable smog emanating from China despite its “detailed and precise” regulations. Moreover, when orbiting atop my mind-reading, magical dragon, I was able to determine that this was significantly the result of foreign corporations taking advantage of lax environmental regulations to, um, increase profit.

    And I didn’t even need my magical dragon’s mind-reading abilities to figure that out. 😛

  9. @Bruce, @rafflaw Suggest you read the book about the family that went to tremendous effort for a year to not buy products made in China. “A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy” by Sara Bongiorni. Good luck in your quest to do without. As a small exercise, try to find a competitively priced television for sale in the US not made in China or Korea. Only one I know of is from Bang & Olufson, made in Europe, and costs about $3500.

    @fiver References and citations, please. Having lived and worked in China for seven years, I am not personally aware of any US companies that moved their manufacturing to China to avoid environmental regulations, nor have I heard of rumors to that effect. On the contrary, China’s environmental regulations are detailed and precise, and foreign companies operating in China either follow them, suffer ruinous fines and penalties, or get shut down very quickly. Chinese companies are treated differently, as I have personally witnessed.

  10. Iraq and Saudi Arabia are the big oil peddlers selling to both the U.S. and China.

    We borrow money from China to purchase Oilah-Ecstasy and war machinery to whoop it up when we get high on jingo juice.

    The oil-drug peddlers are oil-well equipped and trained by the Oil-Qaeda, who worship the god Oilah Akbar.

    Praise mass-murder fat man.

  11. This brings up the kettle calling the pot black syndrome.

    Or the question, who is worse, the drug dealer, the drug user, or the person who said it is not addictive or harmful?

    The entities who addicted the world to fossil fuel, Britain and America, are the ones who said “it is harmless” (The Universal Smedley – 2) and who still say it is harmless.

    “Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.” – NY Times (June 2, 2013)

    Saudi Arabia is another big supplier competing with Iraq (BP).

    As long as we point the finger to others in the same room that is filling up with deadly toxins, the killing will continue until the rapture (Something Does Not Add Up).

  12. Just another reason to avoid any products from China. Disgusting and sad story.

  13. What do you expect from globalists whose growth in profits depends on growth in population?

  14. Smog is an export. But some of the Chinese smog is an American export to China where many American Cayman Island corporations moved their operations precisely to avoid those pesky environmental regulations.

  15. Yeah…. We do a good job with air pollution…. So long as it does not interfere with big business profits…. Such as pharma….oil….. Etc….. And the gas expelled by lobbiest in Washington…..

  16. This country does a good job w/ air quality. Think of LA just 30 years ago. Point Loma is a beautiful vista in San Diego that juts out into the Pacific. On a clear day you can see the yellow smog in Tijuana. It’s a losing battle.

  17. Maybe we can curb Chinas smog problem by not buying Chinese made products. Buy American

  18. From the CS Monitor link:

    “By contrast, neighboring Kenya has close to 40 percent access, the report notes. Only about a quarter of Ethiopia’s population has cell phones compared to 72 percent in Kenya.

    Yet the chilling effect of surveillance on free speech is most significant in Ethiopia, an essentially one-party state where many now live in fear of answering any phone call from overseas – or expressing their true feelings on the phone. Many worry they will be hauled in to a police station and accused of affiliation with banned groups, according to the HRW report, which was based on 100 interviews with Ethiopians.

    “One day they arrested me and they showed me everything. They showed me a list of all my phone calls and they played a conversation I had with my brother,” a former member of an Oromo opposition party, who is now a refugee in Kenya, told interviewers in May 2013.

    “They arrested me because we talked about politics on the phone. It was the first phone I ever owned, and I thought I could finally talk freely,” the man said.

    Governments around the world engage in surveillance, but in most countries judicial and legislative mechanisms are in place to protect privacy and other rights, the report found. Yet in Ethiopia “these mechanisms are largely absent,” HRW said.”


    “Governments around the world engage in surveillance, but in most countries judicial and legislative mechanisms are in place to protect privacy and other rights, the report found.”

    Some would beg to differ.

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