Advertisement

AMBIO

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 1–6 | Cite as

Escaping the resource curse in China

  • Shixiong Cao
  • Shurong Li
  • Hua Ma
  • Yutong Sun
Perspective

Abstract

Many societies face an income gap between rich regions with access to advanced technology and regions that are rich in natural resources but poorer in technology. This “resource curse” can lead to a Kuznets trap, in which economic inequalities between the rich and the poor increase during the process of socioeconomic development. This can also lead to depletion of natural resources, environmental degradation, social instability, and declining socioeconomic development. These problems will jeopardize China’s achievements if the current path continues to be pursued without intervention by the government to solve the problems. To mitigate the socioeconomic development gap between western and eastern China, the government implemented its Western Development Program in 2000. However, recent data suggest that this program has instead worsened the resource curse. Because each region has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, China must escape the resource curse by accounting for this difference; in western China, this can be done by improving education, promoting high-tech industry, adjusting its economic strategy to balance regional development, and seeking more sustainable approaches to socioeconomic development.

Keywords

Environmental degradation Kuznets trap Resource curse Regional gap Resource exploitation Unbalanced development strategy 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Key Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZZD-EW-04-05). We thank Geoffrey Hart of Montréal, Canada, for his help in writing this paper, and Heran Zheng and Yafeng Wang, who supplied the Figures. We are also grateful for the comments and criticisms of an early version of this manuscript by our colleagues and by the journal’s editor and reviewers.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the government of China or of any other organization.

References

  1. Ash, R. 2006. The long-term outlook for economic reform in China: Resource constraints, inequalities and sustainability. Asia Europe Journal 4: 177–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asian Development Bank. 2012. Toward an environmentally sustainable future: Country environmental analysis of the People’s Republic of China. Manila: Asian Development Bank Group.Google Scholar
  3. Boos, A., and K. Holm-Müller. 2012. A theoretical overview of the relationship between the resource curse and genuine savings as an indicator for “weak” sustainability. Natural Resources Forum 36: 145–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cao, S. 2010. Socioeconomic road in ecological restoration in China. Environmental Science and Technology 44: 5328–5329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cao, S. 2012. Why China’s approach to institutional change has begun to succeed. Economic Modeling 29: 679–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cao, S., Y. Lv, H. Zheng, and X. Wang, X. 2014. Challenges facing China’s unbalanced urbanization strategy. Land Use Policy 33. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2013.12.004.
  7. China Daily. 2013. Beijing air pollution reaches dangerous levels. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-01/13/content_16110073.htm.
  8. China Environmental News Digest. 2007. Sandstorm from northern China to hit Taiwan today. http://china-environmental-news.blogspot.com/2007/04/sandstorm-from-northern-china-to-hit.html.
  9. China Statistics Bureau. 2013. Statistical Yearbook of China. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  10. Han, G., and S. Guo. 2004. Political economy of FDI and economic growth in China: a longitudinal test at provincial level. The Journal of Chinese Political Science 9: 43–62 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  11. Ji, K., J.R. Magnus, and W.D. Wang. 2014. Natural resources, institutional quality, and economic growth in China. Environmental and Resource Economics 57: 323–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kuznets, S. 1955. Economic growth and income inequality. American Economic Review 45: 1–28.Google Scholar
  13. Li, M.Q., and I. Coxhead. 2011. Trade and inequality with limited labor mobility: theory and evidence from China. Review of Development Economics 15: 48–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liu, J., and Y. Wu. 2012. Water sustainability for China and beyond. Science 337: 649–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Wei, L., and R.L. Qiu. 2007. Water eutrophication in China and the combating strategies. Journal Chemical Technology and Biotechnology 82: 781–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Zhang, Q., X. Zhao, Y. Zhang, and L. Li. 2002. Preliminary study on sand-dust storm disaster and countermeasures in China. Chinese Geographical Science 12: 9–13 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  17. Zhang, X.B., X. Li, S.G. Fan, and X.P. Luo. 2008. Resource abundance and regional development in China. Economics of Transition 16: 7–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Zheng, H., and S. Cao. 2011. The challenge to sustainable development in China revealed by “death villages”. Environmental Science and Technology 45: 9833–9834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Urban and Environmental ScienceNorthwest UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Economics and ManagementBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.School of Public ManagementNorthwest UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.College of Soil and Water ConservationBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations