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May 04, 2006

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Michael Paton

Discussions such as those of Pei Minxin ('The Dark Side of China's Rise' May 4) seem to occur in an environmental history vacuum. The question should be asked as to whether the corrupt officials couldn't wait to turn their power into wealth because of the worsening environmental situation, a situation that has its roots for many ceturies in what Elvin has dubbed the 'logic of short term advantage'. Whether this situation would be ameliorated by the dismantling of state monopolies is also questionable as economic markets generally work on such short term logic.

See Elvin, Mark, The Retreat of the Elephants: an Environmental History of China, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004)

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It seems to Minxin, the ruling elites in China appears drifting and insecure. 'Fearful about what the future may hold.

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