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Page added on May 31, 2006

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China growth unsustainable on all counts, must change: economist

China’s growth model, based on the West’s economic model with its massive appetite for resources and increasing environmental degradation is unsustainable and will have to change, a leading environmentalist said.


Lester Brown, head of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, told reporters in Beijing that China’s current path could not be maintained at either the national or international level.


“The Western economic model — the fossil fuel based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy — will not work for China,” Brown said.

“Among the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities — grain and meat, oil and coal and steel — consumption in China has eclipsed that of the United States in all but oil,” he said.


If China’s economy continues to grow by 8.0 percent annually, per capita income will equal that of current levels in the United States by the year 2030, when the nation will boast a population of 1.45 billion people, Brown said.


China grew 9.9 percent last year and 10.3 percent in the first quarter of 2006 and looks set to expand at similar rates going forward.


On the same model, Brown said China’s annual grain consumption would equal two-thirds of current world grain output and annual paper consumption would be double current world production by 2030.


“There go the world’s forests,” he said.


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