Recycling Chaos In U.S. As China Bans ‘Foreign Waste’ – Cassandra Profita Jes Burns December 9, 2017 8:00 AM ET


China’s ban means recycling is piling up at Rogue Waste System in southern Oregon. Employees Scott Fowler, Laura Leebrick and Garry Penning say their only option for now is to send it to a landfill.

Jes Burns/OPB/EarthFix

Like many Portland residents, Satish and Arlene Palshikar are serious recyclers. Their house is coated with recycled bluish-white paint. They recycle their rainwater, compost their food waste and carefully separate the paper and plastic they toss out. But recently, after loading up their Prius and driving to a sorting facility, they got a shock.

“The fellow said we don’t take plastic anymore,” Satish says. “It should go in the trash.”

The facility had been shipping its plastic to China, but suddenly that was no longer possible.

Portland residents Satish and Arlene Palshikar want to see the U.S. become less dependent on China for recycling.

Cassandra Profita/OPB/EarthFix

The U.S. exports about one-third of its recycling, and nearly half goes to China. For decades, China has used recyclables from around the world to supply its manufacturing boom. But this summer it declared that this “foreign waste” includes too many other nonrecyclable materials that are “dirty,” even “hazardous.” In a filing with the World Trade Organization the country listed 24 kinds of solid wastes it would ban “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.”

The complete ban takes effect Jan. 1, but already some Chinese importers have not had their licenses renewed. That is leaving U.S. recycling companies scrambling to adapt.

“It has no value … It’s garbage.”

Rogue Waste Systems in southern Oregon collects recycling from curbside bins, and manager Scott Fowler says there are always nonrecyclables mixed in. As mounds of goods are compressed into 1-ton bales, he points out some: a roll of linoleum, gas cans, a briefcase, a surprising number of knitted sweaters. Plus, there are the frozen food cartons and plastic bags that many people think are recyclable but are not.

For decades, China has sorted through all this and used the recycled goods to propel its manufacturing boom. Now it no longer wants to, so the materials sits here with no place to go.

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China looks at plans to ban petrol and diesel cars – BBC News September 10, 2017


Heavy air pollution above cars driving in BeijingGetty Images
China wants more electric cars on the road to fight pollution

China, the world’s biggest car market, plans to ban the production and sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans.

The country’s vice industry minister said it had started “relevant research” but that it had not yet decided when the ban would come into force.

“Those measures will certainly bring profound changes for our car industry’s development,” Xin Guobin told Xinhua, China’s official news agency

China made 28 million cars last year, almost a third of the global total.

Both the UK and France have already announced plans to ban new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040, as part of efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

Chinese-owned carmaker Volvo said in July that all its new car models would have an electric motor from 2019.

Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, aims to sell one million electric cars by 2025.

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Why Tensions Are Rising Between Vietnam and China – By Hunter Marston  August 15, 2017


Hanoi Resists Beijing’s South China Sea Agenda

In a sign of escalating tensions in Southeast Asia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi just canceled a bilateral meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh. Since clashing in a brief war in 1979 and a naval battle in 1988, Vietnam has drawn China’s ire with some creative (and risky) diplomacy intended to counter Beijing’s acts of unilateral dominance in the South China Sea.

Last month, Hanoi agreed to back off of a major oil exploration venture in the South China Sea at Beijing’s behest. General Fan Changlong, deputy chair of China’s Central Military Commission, applied some heavy-handed pressure, including paying a visit to Madrid to raise Beijing’s concerns over Spanish corporation Repsol’s involvement in the deal despite Respol’s having already invested $300 million in the project. General Fan also traveled to Hanoi for an annual border exchange, during which time he directly requested that Vietnam cease oil exploration in the disputed zone, block 136-03, even threatening to use force if his request was denied. Hanoi then relented. Although many Asia analysts were critical of Vietnam’s decision, which they saw as kowtowing to Beijing, Hanoi has continued to push back against China in other important areas.

For instance, Vietnam has moved forward with construction of artificial land features in the South China Sea, which it began building in the 1980s. Yet Beijing, much to its ire, is unable to publicly condemn these moves without appearing hypocritical, as China has constructed seven islands in the South China Sea totaling over 3,200 acres of land and has continued to install more military hardware on them.

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Japan Warms to China – By J. Berkshire Miller July 17, 2017


Why Abe and Xi Are Slowly Mending Ties

The geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia is changing. China has been rapidly modernizing its military and assertively pressing its expansive territorial claims in the East China and South China Seas. The United States’ commitment to the region has come into question. And North Korea has been expanding its nuclear and missile programs, despite international pressure.

All of these developments have led China and Japan to cautiously rethink their ties. Although trust between the two states remains elusive, in recent months, their governments have taken some incremental steps to stabilize their troubled relations. It seems that Beijing and Tokyo have calculated that their long-running feud is costing them too much and adding unnecessary uncertainty to their region’s security.

Perhaps the clearest signs of this change have been Tokyo’s attempts to resume high-level summitry with Beijing. Such meetings between Chinese and Japanese leaders have been scarce in recent years due to historical differences and geopolitical competition between the two countries. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not meet until 2014, some two years after both leaders took office, as their governments were squabbling over the disputed Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China) in the East China Sea.

But this May, on the sidelines of China’s Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a key Abe aide, passed on a letter to China’s leadership indicating Japan’s interest in hosting reciprocal summits in both countries before 2018. The next month, Abe called for a trilateral summit with the leaders of China and South Korea. And on July 8, Abe and Xi met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg.

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China’s tomato paste colonialism – by Jean-Baptiste Malet June 2017


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Tomatoes galore: a stall at the Xinmin market in Beijing, China

China Photos · Getty

Ahundred workers were picking tomatoes in a field near Wusu, a town in northern Xinjiang province, China, half way between the provincial capital, Ürümqi, and the border with Kazakhstan. Most were migrants from Sichuan province, with a few Uyghurs. A teenage girl raised her cleaver above her head and cut off a leafy stem loaded with ripe fruit. Another worker picked up the stem and shook it, and the tomatoes fell to the ground with a thud; gradually, the field was covered with red and green stripes. Men and women crouched down to fill big plasticised canvas sacks. They were earning 2.2 renminbi for each 25-kg sack, just over 1 US cent per kilo. ‘Me and my wife can sometimes fill 170 sacks in a day,’ said one worker. That works out at around $28 each, 10 times more than they earned in the early 2000s. But now they compete with machines imported from Italy.

From a corner of the field, Li Songmin watched his tomatoes being harvested. Li rents the field, and didn’t know the pickers, who were all recruited through an agent. That evening, a truck would deliver the tomatoes to a factory run by Cofco Tunhe; that was all he knew. Cofco Tunhe supplies him with high-yield Heinz varieties, which he must grow according to precise specifications, and guarantees to buy the crop at a pre-agreed price.

Cofco (China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation) is China’s largest tomato processor and a Fortune global 500 corporation. It’s a conglomerate that brings together entities established during the Mao era, when it was the only company authorised to import and export agricultural products. Its subsidiary Tunhe, which specialises in sugar and industrial tomatoes, has 15 tomato processing plants, 11 in Xinjiang, producing drums of paste that it sells to agrifood giants such as Kraft Heinz, Unilever, Nestlé, Kagome, Del Monte, PepsiCo, and McCormick, the world leader in seasonings and spices.

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Japan’s growing concern over China’s naval might – By Alexander Neill Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow, IISS Asia 28 May 2017


JS Izumo helicopter carrierAFP

The pride of Japan’s naval defence, the JS Izumo, is making an unprecedented journey through Asian waters over the next three months.

The Izumo is the largest vessel built by Japan since the end of World War Two – and she looks very much like an aircraft carrier. She has already participated in Singapore’s first ever fleet review, an international naval gathering with fleets from Asia and beyond to demonstrate their power.

There is growing support in Japan for a more strident response to Chinese military assertiveness around Japanese waters and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force has been increasingly active in the region.

It is all part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s determination to loosen constitutional strictures over the role of Japan’s self-defence forces.

The sea is where this is playing out right now.

Chinese and Japanese flagGetty Images

Japanese navy officials are careful to describe the ship as a “helicopter destroyer” capable of carrying more than 20 helicopters from its expansive flight deck, and thus playing down any offensive capabilities forbidden under Japan’s constitution.

Against the backdrop of China’s narrative of suffering and humiliation at the hands of Japanese imperial forces during World War Two, the transit of the Izumo through the South China Sea is particularly sensitive for China, since Japan has been very vocal in its support of a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration overwhelmingly against China’s claims to a large expanse of the South China Sea and its features.

Japan’s new military role

The widening of Japanese naval operations in the South China Sea and beyond is also a response to a more pressing concern for Japan: China’s own relentless drive to dominate the waters around Japan.

Chinese critics of Japan’s naval modernisation will point out that with a few minor adjustments, this ship could carry vertical take-off and landing fighter jets, including the F-35 stealth fighter.

For China, therefore, the Izumo and the latest additions to the JMSDF fleet are both a symbol of a new era of military expansionism under Prime Minister Abe’s administration and a painful reminder of China’s wartime suffering and the destruction wrought by Japan’s powerful carrier fleet of World War Two.

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Duterte’s Dance With China – By Richard Javad Heydarian April 26, 2017


Why the Philippines Won’t Abandon Washington

Even as he has sparred with the United States, Duterte has worked to normalize the Philippines’ relations with China, which had frayed under his predecessor. He has pursued defense cooperation with Russia and praised President Vladimir Putin as his “favorite hero.” And during a high-profile visit to Beijing last October, Duterte—who has dubiously claimed to have Chinese ancestry—announced his “separation from the United States” while declaring his intention to join Beijing’s “ideological flow,” forming an alliance with China and Russia “against the world.”

Indeed, Duterte has made a series of significant concessions in order to improve relations with China. He has scaled back joint military exercises with the United States, barred U.S. warships from using Filipino bases to conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, and effectively soft-pedaled the Philippines’ South China Sea arbitration victory over China by not raising it in international fora.

Such behavior and rhetoric would appear to suggest a radical reconfiguration of the Philippines’ strategic thinking. Duterte is often seen from the outside as a charismatic strongman in the mold of Putin or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—a quasi-dictator powerful enough to transform his country’s relations with the West. At the same time, however, the Philippines’ public statements on foreign policy have been erratic. Despite Duterte’s conflict-avoidance regarding the South China Sea, Filipino diplomats often raise the issue in regional organizations such as ASEAN, and the country’s military has maintained full-spectrum security cooperation with Washington. The mercurial Duterte has added to the confusion by oscillating between patriotic bravado to appease his domestic base, on the one hand, and accommodating rhetoric toward China, on the other.

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