Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rare Earth Elements: Another Environmental Fiasco in China's Green Industries

This article from SCMP (link here) documents the horrendous environmental and health effects of China's rare earth elements industry.  The irony of course is that rare earth elements are a critical component in many "green" technologies.  And yet, these very un-green externalities are common across China's green industries.  See for example the heavy energy consumption of solar panel production in China.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hong Kong in the Five-Year Plan

Hong Kong has finally gotten some significant space in the new 5YP document (see today's SCMP here).  However, calling for Hong Kong to be the "dragon head" of Pearl River Delta financial system does not really offer much reassurance that the long term goal is not to have Shanghai replace Hong Kong as China's main financial center.  Indeed, two years ago the State Council named 2020 as the year Shanghai will be a global financial center and the new 5YP acknowledges Shanghai as the hub for RMB financial services with Hong Kong given the smaller role of hub for international RMB services.  Siu-Kai Lau of the Central Policy Unit has trumpeted Hong Kong's 5YP-designated role as showing up Guangzhou's bid to become the financial hub of the Pearl River Delta.  True as this may be, Hong Kong should not really be competing with Guangzhou in the first place.  Oh well, at least Hong Kong can comfort itself with the fact that the snail's pace of liberalization towards the capital account openness that Shanghai will require to become a global financial center means that Hong Kong will remain the financial window on the world for China beyond the 2020 deadline.