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12:01AM

What China wants, China gets - at a cost to the planet

One of the ways in which China starts getting blamed for all things globalization is the direct impact its consumers can have on global markets - sending them soaring and crashing in a historical heartbeat.

I've talked about China's incredible hunger for various nuts in the past, and how that demand has fundamentally reshaped ag markets in the US.

This NYT story discusses how fishermen off the coast of Mexico are ignoring governmental attempts to preserve an overfished area for sea cucumbers.  Out-of-area guys are slipping into zones being vigilantly guarded by locals and pulling out hauls right under their noses.  This creates a "wild west" atmosphere were towns square off against towns over their precious slices of the pie and every stranger is treated like a would-be criminal.

Until China emerged in its middle-class glory, they wasn't much of a demand, as sea cucumbers aren't really eaten by Mexicans.  But now the demand is such that one guy poaching can claim $700 a day in profit.

So this section of Mexico's coastline is in uproar . . . because Chinese like their sea cucumbers.

There will come a time - soon enough, when virtually everyone in the world who isn't Chinese will be living some version of this story.

A while back, America played that role, and while everyone wanted to please that American consumer, the dynamic created a lot of antipathy too.

And that is what's coming toward China at high speed.

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Reader Comments (1)

I agree with you, but I don't think I would be as well off today as I am if not for Chinese demand for African commodities.

China is playing a more dynamic role in creating a truly global middle class than the US. (US played a more dynamic role in the past).

The thing about a global middle class is that they demand similar things - thus putting pressures on all sorts of commodities, goods and services.

It is a give and take - look at the projections for an African middle class; we'll be making similar demands on someone & so will the Indians.

For example. we Nigerians love stock fish - as the middle class grows, demand for stock fish from Scandinavia will grow, thus depleting fishing stocks. Similar pressures.

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaduka

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