Globalisation, Transition and Development in China: The Case of the Coal Industry

Globalisation, Transition and Development in China: The Case of the Coal Industry

Globalisation, Transition and Development in China: The Case of the Coal Industry

Globalisation, Transition and Development in China: The Case of the Coal Industry

Synopsis

Rui examines China's development strategy, the forces which underlie it & how successful it has been. Using the coal industry as a case study, he considers how despite its best efforts, China has so far failed to build large globally competitive corporations.

Excerpt

The Chinese coal industry sounds a boring topic. In fact few topics touch so closely the heart of China's political economy in the early twenty-first century. Indeed, the coal industry is of central importance in global development in the early twenty-first century. In both China and the USA, as well as in many smaller countries, coal is the most important source of primary energy for electricity generation. Managing the environmental consequences of the huge generation of carbon dioxide that results from burning coal in power stations is a central issue for the world to tackle in the years ahead. However, in the absence of severe penalties for using coal in power stations, coal remains a highly competitive source of primary energy. Coal is not only still extremely important in China, but its coal output is rising fast, and shows every sign of continuing to rise steadily. In the absence of countervailing measures, it is likely that China's already huge coal output will rise to levels far above those of today.

Huaichuan Rui's book is based on unique fieldwork in three different types of Chinese mining enterprise - township and village enterprises, old state-owned enterprises and new modern coal companies. She also places her analysis in the context of global change in this industry and its implications for China. Through the study of this dirty, 'boring' industry, Rui has provided rich insights into the policy challenges that confront the Chinese government today.

Despite China's high-speed growth, and the fears of Western countries, especially the USA, that they will soon be 'overtaken' by China, the country remains extremely poor, facing massive development challenges. There are still several million people working in China's small, local coalmines. Their lives are little different from those of miners in Britain during the Industrial Revolution. However, they remain highly competitive in domestic markets, due to low labour and capital costs. They typically also have low transport costs, supplying predominantly local needs for low-priced unwashed, ungraded coal. Alongside China's modernization, output and employment has grown rapidly in this sector, despite government attempts to control its growth. Conditions of work are extremely dangerous in terms both of short-term risks of accidents, and long-term risks to miners' health. The sector also is extremely wasteful due to the low extraction rate of mine reserves, and damage to the natural environment due to the primitive conditions of coal transportation from such mines. Areas with large numbers of small coalmines are

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