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Socio economic needs are more pressing than environmental concerns.

Discuss this
view with relations to China.
Since 1978, to develop the economy, China has been developing its economy at the
expense of the environment with little regard to the kind of long term environmental
problems that will come back to haunt China as that was deemed as what was more
pressing at that point in time. While socio economic needs are important as it is the
guardian of social stability on many levels, environment concerns on the other hand
can no longer be ignored because it has become so serious that it make either make
or break Chinas economy. Whether socio economic needs are more pressing than
environmental needs depends on which distorts social stability more when it is not
met. This essay seeks to argue that although socio economic needs are amongst
the top most priority of the CCP as it has extensive implications, socio economic
needs are not more pressing than environment concerns as China has come to a
stage where sustainable development that strikes a balance between environmental
conservation and economic growth is critically related to Chinas ability to grow its
economy.
Compared to environmental concerns, the fruits of achieving economic success is
more extensive because by bringing in prosperity for the people, economic
development is able to enhance the standing of CCP to have the mandate from the
people to rule largely unchallenged and without popular opposition, therefore
making the later more important. Economic prosperity has been the line of defense
for CCP that have made it possible for a large majority of the people to stay at least
passively acceptant of CCPs authoritarian rule. Due to the success of CCP at
developing Chinas economy, standards of living for both the rural residents and the
urbanites have vastly and greatly improved. Since Chinas opening up, 400million
people have been lifted out of poverty. In just 2003 alone, in spite of the outbreak of
SARS, 13million jobs were created. Real income for rural residents grew by 4.3%.
CCP, with its promise of people-centered development to the country, has been
able to gain the continual support of the people to unite with it in spurring the
Chinese economy. 20.95trillion yuan raked in in 2006 shows that CCP has been
successful at uniting the people through economic development, and at the same
time safeguard its legitimacy as people are kept content with the status quo. The
economic successes of the CCP have caused the emergence of a middle class in
China that largely supports the CCP for fear of rocking the boat of prosperity. Over
50% of China population earn at least 6000yuan per month and are considered the
middle class.
Moreover, some of the measures that are required to ameliorate the environmental
situation in China require China to be strong economically, making economic need
more important than environmental concerns on some level. For example in 2003,
the government gave 60billion yuan to environmental protection, including forest
protection, reclaiming farmlands for forests and combating desertification. Greater
investment in environmental protection at both the national and local levels through
campaigns like China Go Green also require funding for them to be put in place to
tackle the problem of environmental degradation as China develops. The $62billion
South-North water diversion project launched to supply northern China with the rich
water resource of the south is not possible without strong economic clout. Without
economic strength, innovative resolutions to Chinas environmental woes like

creating manmade rain in patched areas through the firing of cloud seeding
projectiles would not be possible. Hence, economic strength is in fact in certain
ways more important than environmental concerns as it vitally affects the
governments ability to deal with the latter.
Furthermore, besides just environmental problems, economic strength is also able
to deal with many other problems which environmental concerns may not be as
effective in dealing with. To tackle urban-rural division, the Go West policy, which
requires an enormous amount of resources, was implemented to channel
investments and development to the inland provinces. A system of guaranteeing
residents minimum living standards has been established in some 330cities. A
unified basic old-age social insurance system for enterprise employees was started.
Experimental reform of the medical insurance system was expanded. Development
was made in elementary education by popularizing nine year compulsory education
contributing to the elimination of illiteracy. Recent date indicates that the average
length of education in various provinces range between 5 to 7years. While solving
Chinas environmental woes may also reduce certain social problems like rural
urban migration which threaten Chinas social stability, it merely fends off problems
but it does not have the effect of solving problems like the former does. Hence,
economic concern in this aspect is more important than the latter.
While Chinas economic development may be more important, environmental
concern on the other hand is more pressing because environmental degradation has
lowered living standards in both rural and urban regions to a level that could
seriously unsettle social stability, thus disrupting Chinas sustained economic
growth if nothing is done to it urgently. A consequence of rapid industrialization and
urbanization, air and water pollution have worsened by Chinas heavy reliance on
coal for energy. Since 2007, China has taken over the US for the first time as the
worlds top producer of greenhouse gases. This is worsened by the greater
dependence on motor vehicles as the basic means of transport and the problem of
corruption. Water and air pollution by 2012 have caused 750000 premature deaths
and around 8% of GDP. If this goes on, it could not only upset Chinas socio-political
stability, the foundation of Chinese economic development, as people begun to fight
vigorously for their environmental rights, it can also affect Chinas food production,
resulting in higher costs of living, hence sowing seeds of social dissents.
Even if the government wants to grow the economy, environmental problems to
some level have to be dealt with first as health and other problems arising from
poor environmental conditions are strain private and public resources, diverting
attention and capital that could be devoted to sustaining economic growth.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese people still rely on fouled water that will cost
billions of dollars to clean. In 2003, the government gave 60billion yuan to
environmental protection, including forest protection, reclaiming farmlands for
forests and combating desertification. China is the world largest investor in clean
energy, spending USD 34.6billion in 2009. The government is offering 50000 yuan
subsidies for the purchase of plug in hybrid electric vehicles and 60000 yuan for
pure electric vehicles in five cities. The Golden Sun Program will subsidize 50% of
the costs of building above 500 megawatts solar power projects and transmitting
and distributing the solar power form those projects. In remote areas, the incentive
will go up to 70%.

Last but not least, environmental concern is more pressing than economic concern
because the depletion of clean water supply and arable lands is jeopardizing the
precise resources that are crucial to rake it high growth rates in the country. Hence,
in order for Chinese to develop its economy, these environmental concerns have to
be dealt with first. More than a third of Chinas land is being scoured by serious
erosion that is putting the countrys crops and water supply at risk. Only 6 of
Chinas 27 largest cities supply drinking water that meets the states standards.
Outside Chinas major cities, the growing number of privately run cottage industries
has dramatically increased local water pollution. Each year, about 4.5 billion tonnes
of soil are lost, threatening the countrys ability to feed itself. If the loss continuous
at this rate, harvests in Chinas north eastern breadbasket could fall 40% in 50
years, adding to erosion costs estimated at 200billion yuan between 2001 and 2010
alone. Over one-quarter of Chinas land is now desert. China has lost twice as much
forested land over the century as it now possesses. Soil is being washed and blown
away not only in remote rural areas but also near mines, factories and even in
cities.
In conclusion, socio economic needs are important as it is the guardian of social
stability on many levels. However, environment concerns on the other hand can no
longer be ignored because it has become so serious that it make either make or
break Chinas economy. Therefore, although socio economic needs are amongst the
top most priority of the CCP as it has extensive implications, socio economic needs
are not more pressing than environment concerns as China has come to a stage
where sustainable development that strikes a balance between environmental
conservation and economic growth is critically related to Chinas ability to grow its
economy.