Published May 2006

Infrastructure needs grow
with China’s economy

By John Wolcott
SCBJ Editor

China’s civilization is unique among the world’s countries, encompassing more than 4,000 years of history on one of the largest land masses of any nation, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook.

Built on a Marxist model of socialism, China in modern times remains a country still ruled by the Communist Party, but it’s a Communist Party government that now recognizes the benefits capitalism can bring to its people, its standard of living and its world stature.

China’s headlong plunge into capitalism is making it a major player — and a major market — in the world’s economy. Already, an awakening China, with 1.3 billion people, has the world’s fourth-largest economy, with a gross domestic product that reached $2.2 trillion in 2005, up 9.9 percent over 2004. Between 1980 and 2000, China’s GDP increased 400 percent.

But China needs more than simply goods and services from its trading partners. It needs new infrastructure, new utilities and the Western World’s wealth of environmental protection experience to save China’s people and the country’s future from choking to death on its polluted air or drowning in its murky rivers.

Heavily dependent on coal-fired power plants, only 38 percent of the 342 largest cities in China met air quality standards in 2004. Thirty percent of China experiences acid rain, and air visibility has decreased distinctly in recent years.

Tests of 412 sections of China’s seven largest rivers found only 42 percent met safe water standards. In 27 major lakes in China tested that same year, only 8 percent met acceptable water standards, according to researchers at North American Industrial Investment Co. Ltd., a business development, investment and consulting firm in Seattle.

“Washington can not only sell apples and wines (to China) but also environmental products and services,” said NAIIC chief executive Kent Mao. “I believe in the future trend for (more) foreign investment in China. A better environment creates better business.”

The Pacific Northwest can help China solve many of its building and expansion problems as well as its environmental challenges, he said, adding that he and his team are helping “a couple of” Washington environmental companies to find a growth market in China for treating hazardous, medical and solid wastes for recycling and for “waste to energy” purposes.

“The potential sales of products, equipment and services in this area will transform our company’s growth,” Mao said. “Our firm also is working on projects to remove pollutants from coal-fired power plants, such as fly-ash and SO2.”

Mao said he believes that the rapidly developing Chinese economy could have a significant impact on small and medium-size businesses in Snohomish County, but only if they will explore potential roles in China trade and investments.

Related: Kent Mao is local "China connection"

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