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Power Earth Government News Politics

China To Close 2,000 Factories In Energy Crackdown 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the anti-stimulus dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has published a list of 2,087 steel mills, cement works and other energy-intensive factories required to close by September 30 after discussions with provincial and municipal officials to identify industrial operations with outdated, inefficient technology. The goal of the factory closings is 'to enhance the structure of production, heighten the standard of technical capability and international competitiveness and realize a transformation of industry from being big to being strong,' the ministry says. The current Chinese five-year plan calls for using 20 percent less energy this year for each unit of economic output than in 2005 but surging production by heavy industry since last winter has put in question China's ability to meet this target. In addition to the energy-efficiency objective in the current five-year plan, a plan announced by President Hu Jintao late last year called for China to reduce its carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels."
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China To Close 2,000 Factories In Energy Crackdown

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  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:14AM (#33202630) Homepage

    The $€£ is still king.

    • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:25AM (#33202706)

      The $€£ is still king.

      Even if this was intended trolling (I don't think it is), it is an insightful point. For as much as American's rag on China as a country and their countless instances of unethical this and that, parent is correct in that here the $€£ really is king. We do not seem to have any vision when it comes to things like alternative energy, reducing our energy consumption, and industrial efficiency. Many, many businesses just keep chugging along, consuming more and more and more energy to make more and more and more money. Read the comments here [slashdot.org] for a better glimpse. Exponential growth is not sustainable.

      • Their is nothing wrong with pursing the $€£, the problem is being short sighted about it. If a company is only concerned about this quarter or this year they will never invest in the future and eventually be over taken by those that do. Refurbishing factories to be more efficient is expensive in the short term but is usually a good idea in the long run. Investing in research is expensive in the short term but can lead to major profits in the future. You are right exponential growth is not su
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          You're missing the point.

          China is doing this to improve their image. Their government refuses to take human rights seriously because they would lose the great deal of control that they have over their populace. If they can look "green" instead and publicize it, they have basically traded bad human rights image for good environmentalist image while giving up far less (in their views) to get the environmentalist image. The net result is that to a body like the UN, China would look no worse than any other cou
          • by erroneus (253617)

            It's more than their image they are improving. It will also be the quality of their output, the efficiency of their factor consumption, the net cost of manufacturing and goods sold and probably a lot more. They are not only updating their technology, but updating their policies as well.

            Chinese toys will be safe for children all over... that is more than good for their image -- it makes them more eligible to continue to fill WalMart's store shelves.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Don't flatter yourself. There are materials that have been banned in manufacturing in the USA and are completely legal to import from elsewhere. Take, for instance, my friend's cookware company. They were not allowed to manufacture a part of the handle for their frying pans because it contained lead, so instead, they shipped off their manufacturing to China where the lead was no problem, and they also managed to get some cadmium yellow into certain handles. It was okay to import and sell since none of the c

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by operagost (62405)

                I don't get how you claim that products are going to be cheaper when they're "green."

                Government subsidies, of course! Make the rich pay their "fair share" of taxes to cover it!

              • by s73v3r (963317)
                Why the fuck is he putting lead in cookware? Or anything consumer oriented?
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by sjames (1099)

                Lets say you buy (over a period of years) $10,000 worth of cheap but environmentally irresponsible goods. The "green" products would cost $20,000. Then your child comes down with asthma triggered by rampant pollution and you spend $30,000 in medical bills and everyone's insurance premiums go up. That was an awfully expensive $10,000 savings.

                So genuinely green products can indeed be cheaper. Note that one really quick way to make something "green" is to make it last longer so it doesn't end up in the landfil

          • by holmstar (1388267)
            This has less to do with image, and more to do with the fact that their growth is outpacing their energy supply. They have to put up a new power plant something like every week in order to keep their economic machine moving. It just ends up costing less to remodel/replace factories that are big energy pigs with more efficient ones.
        • by afidel (530433)
          All you have to do to fix the situation is to internalize the negative externalities in the cost of energy and the free market will very quickly and efficiently close down the most inefficient users. The problem in the US is there is no political will to actually do that, especially in the middle of the most severe recession in several generations. Ultimately a free market with sufficient oversight to account for inbalances like this is the most efficient real world economic system we have yet devised.
      • I prefer to think of it as "devil's advocate"...

      • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:09AM (#33203122)

        In the West, the $€£ is king; in China, to a large extent the Party is king. Many of these factories will be extremely inefficient and would have bell closed or replaces long long ago in the West, but have been kept going in China because of the effect on local jobs - especially local party jobs. The power that says that 2000 factories must close because of central policy is the same power that kept them open regardless of whether it was in most people's best interest to do so. Central control works both ways: when the centre is right, it can get things done very fast. But when it is wrong it can get things don, or not done, with equal efficicency. For all its defects, when the market is working properly it is remarkably efficient.

        • by Nikkos (544004)
          2000 factories closed by the power of the State. If we say there were 100 employees per factory (probably very very low) then that's 200,000 people left unemployed by a decision of the Government. It's probably closer to 500,000 people.

          Hundreds of thousands of people left unemployed due to a decision made by an unelected ruling elite.
        • For all its defects, when the market is working properly it is remarkably efficient.

          ... And when has the market ever worked properly?

      • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:22AM (#33203266)
        What you don't seem to comprehend is that the factories they're shutting shouldn't have been built in the first place. The capacity wasn't ever needed and the only reason why they built them was that bank accounts in China paid at the time even less than ones in the US and Europe. It's hardly green to shutter excess capacity that shouldn't have been built in the first place. But because they couldn't get anything for their savings it made more business sense to build and build without a whole lot of consideration given to the prudence of doing so.

        As inept and incompetent as the economists of the Federal Reserve are in the US, the ones running the Chinese economy are light years beyond them in terms of incompetence. You just can't assume that currency manipulation and central planning is going to get you anywhere in the long term. They flat out don't understand what it is that they're doing and it's going to cost us all dearly.
      • not that I would want them.

        Do you think that the US Government could order the shut down of thousands of factories without public outcry, let alone court battles and the like. China can do this because it isn't like the people who work at those locations have a voice. Sure some of the higher ups at each will get reassigned, but rest are probably low skilled and have lower education.

        In China they spend people like we spend dollars.

        • From a different perspective, China is only able to get this done because they aren't a democracy. If they had to put it up for discussion and a vote, it would be years of delay, but meanwhile an insane amount of energy would be lost during that delay. In this case their government is swift and able to make decisions promptly "for the greater good."
      • How do we know this has anything at all to do with any high minded ideals at all?

        How do know this isn't more about politically loyal and financially compliant entities being allowed to continue operating and disloyal entities or those on some enemies list are being shut down?

        As a scenerio, assume that while China's GDP numbers look good there's some slow contraction going on as the economies in the West continue to suck and manufactured goods purchases slow. This leads to rocky business environment and get

    • Yes, I'm sure that Zhongnanhai doesn't care about the growth of the RMB over the last forty years. Not at all.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      It's King in China too. There is such a thing as enlightened self-interest.

    • by camperslo (704715)

      Not to be outdone, the West too finds ways to cut energy use in buildings and travel.

      Lobbyists' offices will be closed, and all will soon share space in Congressional offices.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      And you think it isn't in China?
      In the US if a company decided that shut down a factory because it wasn't efficient enough and cost effective it would have to deal with the Unions.

      Let me translate this story into western for you.
      Large corporation shuts down profitable factories / steel mill / cement plant throwing thousands out of work.
      Mega corp today announced that it would be closing the Anytown steel mill next week. A company spokesperson today stated, "because of the high cost of energy we are shutting

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah, yeah. See also: paranoid fears of Soviet-style "efficiency" back in the 1950s and 1960s, where people who didn't trust Capitalism wrung their hands at the thought of government planners "finally" creating the Perfect Society. Result: Collapse.

      Then see the 1980s, where paranoid fears of Japan-style efficiency of "government / industry partnerships" where going to bury the West's economy, due to the efficiency of government planners really doing it right this time. Result: Collapse, and restructuring.

      No

  • by Allnighte (1794642) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:25AM (#33202702)
    Even though I didn't really expect China to do things like this (at least this early), it looks like they're willing to raise the standards of their production at the cost of business; something that most "western" societies have been doing for some time (and hence why they now import these goods from countries willing to produce from the cheap labor and lax restrictions).

    If this continues, it will slow their growth. Some other country will be able to produce the same things China has without these same restrictions. I know people talk about India being similar or replacing China in this regard, but won't India follow a similar path of cleaning up their own "manufacturing ethics" as they grow? What happens when *all* countries have tighter manufacturing limits in place?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      "What happens when *all* countries have tighter manufacturing limits in place"

      The West will look even more shortsighted/ridiculous than it already does...?

      If America is the self-proclaimed "leader of the free world" then why isn't it leading by example?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        And no doubt you expect it to 'lead' by eliminating the pesky 'free' part, just as China does. If the US government tried to shut down two thousand industrial facilities at a stroke, the people would vote that administration out and rightly. China can do what it does because these facilities are likely owned wholly or in large part by state industries, and whatever backlash might come from 'the people' (who supposedly own the industries through the auspice of the state) is rendered entirely meaningless thro
        • by delinear (991444) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:50AM (#33202936)

          And no doubt you expect it to 'lead' by eliminating the pesky 'free' part, just as China does.

          Well, signing up to initiatives like Kyoto would at least be a start.

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:54AM (#33203654)

            If you are tossing around Kyoto as what needs to be done this means one of two things:

            1) You are not very well informed about how it actually works, and how nations are doing with it. You are being an idealist about it, not considering the reality.

            2) You just dislike the US, and figure they should suffer.

            The reason I say this is because Kyoto is completely worthless. Not just because certain nations are exempt, but because the nations who have signed on don't have to give a shit either. Any nation can walk on it at any time, no consequences. So what you see is places like Russia, who's economic collapse has made it easy to meet Kyoto goals patting themselves on the back about it, for now, and places like Canada just ignoring it. What, Canada, one of the driving forces behind it? Yep. Canada has been doing jack and shit to meet its Kyoto commitments and as such is considering simply bailing on it (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/709146--canada-s-kyoto-view-triggers-a-walkout).

            Kyoto is a sham, a way for politicians to pat themselves on the back and accomplish nothing in the long run. The US is just one of the few nations that wasn't hypocritical about it and just refused to sign on. Perhaps this is simple politics (though the Senate voted it down 98-0 when it came up, they have to ratify treaties by US law) or perhaps it is because US law places a higher weight on treaties than some places, or perhaps it was simple pragmatism. Whatever the case that the US isn't signed on to Kyoto just means they are being honest about it.

    • Whenever I read the news every new fuel consumption target or windfarm a politician tries to introduce is beaten down by the auto manufacturers or hordes of NIMBYs. Maybe they are raising standards but it's going to take an *awful* long time for things to improve at this rate...

    • What happens when *all* countries have tighter manufacturing limits in place?

      They won't but they will lie about it.

      Peter Mandelson-type inspector guy: What is the electricity consumption of your manufacturing sector?
      Chinese guy: 1
      Peter Mandelson-type inspector guy: Great! Keep up the good work! *Gold Star*

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cacba (1831766)
      Every few years pick a country and bomb it, 20 years later they will start to recover. Remember this is for our children.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "it looks like they're willing to raise the standards of their production at the cost of business; "

      Key words being "looks like". Closing some shifts business to others. If one regards the whole country as a business, this makes perfect sense and is no sacrifice.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:27AM (#33202728)
    TFA starts with:

    Earlier this summer, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China promised to use an “iron hand” to improve his country’s energy efficiency,

    While less energy/carbon intensive as the steel, to get the iron for the hand he'll still need to use carbon. Consequence: his grip on the problem will very likely be 20% softer to the end of this year and about 40% softer in 2020.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Sure you need carbon, he's just figured out that some plants were using a lot more of it than others. Those were the ones he closed.

    • No, no. Iron hand is a martial arts technique he learned at a Shaolin Temple. It will come in handy when he has to fight the Five Deadly Venoms.

      • by c0lo (1497653)
        Huh! My monkey-style kung-fu beats his iron hand pants-down.
        I bet I can close more steel mills and cement factories then...
        Wait... I'm posting on /. !!! Hmmm... this means I can't possibly be owning steel mills and cement factories, now can I?
  • Its very shortsighted of us in the west to give this whole area of development to the Chinese. As they get more efficient and starts getting good at using alternative energy we in the west will still fight about oil, coal and other forms of non renewable energy.

    The future lies at the feet of whom have energy in wast amounts. If China wins this race, they win in the long run. I wouldnt be surprised if we end up paying royalties to China for their technology instead. Some politicians cling to the idea that the west will supply the brains and the rest of the world will pay.

    Our greed comes back to bite us over and over.

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:21AM (#33203254)

      They weren't exactly talking about putting these things on wind power you know? Half the stuff being taken offline by China was likely regulated out of existence in the west long ago.

      They're not boldly embracing some green future.

      • You do know China is doing a really strong push into renewable energy? They are the worlds largest manufacturer of wind power equipment and has put serious efforts into solar, wind, energy crops, has this written into law and they even (gasp!) signed the Kyoto protocol the US took a dump on.

        • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:13AM (#33203896)
          and they even (gasp!) signed the Kyoto protocol the US took a dump on.

          They signed Kyoto because, being a non-Annex I party, they didn't actually have to do anything!
        • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:01AM (#33204400)

          They are the worlds largest manufacturer of wind power equipment and has put serious efforts into solar, wind, energy crops, has this written into law and they even (gasp!) signed the Kyoto protocol the US took a dump on.

          1) They have no obligations under the Kyoto Treaty, so signing it was just a matter of finding a pen.

          2) Did you notice that "reduce carbon emissions by 2020 to 40% below 2005 levels per unit output? Kyoto, if you recall, requires a reduction below 1995 levels. Not a reduction per unit output, but a flat reduction. What the Chinese are promising to do here is to increase their carbon output slightly less slowly than they're increasing it now - and they're already the largest carbon emitter....

        • by Tailhook (98486)

          You do know China is doing a really strong push into renewable energy?

          I know this claim is mantra among the MSM and green propagandists. I know it is also claimed that China just passed the US in coal consumption as well.

          I know the factories that replace those shutdown won't be subject to 'environmental impact' analysis.

          This is characterized as as 'energy crackdown' by the NYT. It actually looks as though older, indigenous facilities are being swept aside to make room for capital that is presently pouring into China. Relative to China the west is hostile to business so the

  • Playing Civ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:04AM (#33203084)
    Anyone get the feeling the Chinese are behaving as if engaged in a game of Civilization, while the US is played more like a game of Monopoly?
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:12AM (#33203146)
    In the U.S., the President would give a speech about the importance of energy efficiency, Congress would pass some token tax rebates, Democrats and Republicans would end up deadlocked in am ugly partisan fight over anything more meaningful than that, and nothing more would ever get done. In fact, that's pretty much what HAS happened in the U.S.--many times, over the course of pretty much every Presidency going back at least as far as Nixon. Guess there are some real advantages to a oligarchy over a democracy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      Guess there are some real advantages to a oligarchy over a democracy.

      I'll pass.

    • by MobyDisk (75490) *

      I thought that too at first. But it is more about communism -vs- capitalism. In a capitalist nation, there is no point in reducing energy consumption unless energy prices rise. In a communist nation, there is no sense in closing an inefficient factory if the government subsidies pay the difference. Both systems are flawed.

      What we need is the middle ground. The people in power (be it an oligarchy or a democracy) should make the costs of energy consumption include the costs of the environmental damage it

  • What is there power gird like? any thing like the us one that was lots of old parts that need to be rebuild? If so adding wind and sol is not that easy.

    Are they big on nuke plans there? or the old COAL.

  • they need crack down on air pollution as well!

  • Next Cold War race? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ckhorne (940312)

    While not exactly staged liked the US vs USSR during the cold war, an economic battle between the worlds top producing (and consuming) countries would be the best thing we could ever hope for. IE- countries battling to be the most energy conscious or "greenest" or most efficient.

    An economic battle like this, of course, would require consumers to push it, of course, although it wouldn't necessarily be based on cost, but on "feel-good-ism", and that's a hard sell...

    • No. That's not a good thing.
      First off, the cold war was a WAR. People shot bullets at each other and died. Remember Vietnam and Afghanistan? Just because we're spreading McDonalds as opposed to democracy doesn't make it any better. So don't liken it to the cold war. That's a bad start... Ah, I think you were shooting for the space race. Yeah, that makes more sense now.

      Secondly, an economic struggle doesn't mean it's going to be a race for an environmentally sound economy. You just kind of threw that i
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ckhorne (940312)

        Geez- I guess I'll have to spell it out...

        I certainly wasn't suggesting that we start another war - yes - "space race" would have been a much more appropriate term. The space race was fueled by the cold war. In the case of countries improving efficiency, there needs to be some reason to precipitate change. The space race came about largely through national pride (and underpinnings of spying and the ability to launch weapons from space). However, we saw some of the fastest and most significant changes during

  • Man, their economy must just be screwed with all of that government interference! I'm sure glad their economy will be dropping off a cliff any day now!

    • China is only doing what America did during World War II - directing that everybody work together to achieve a common goal while using the profit motive as a incentive. We won WWII...China is winning WWIII.
  • Always fun to see stories like this... the authoritatian greens can't help but applaud and criticize the West for not being more autocratic like China.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ibsteve2u (1184603)
      You forget that a reduction in waste is an increase in efficiency. In "going green", China but lays the foundation for a dynasty whose duration and global reach would make Li Yuan, the founder of the Tang Dynasty, become a monk in shame at the myopia of his vision.

      The U.S. will dwindle into insignificance, because too many believe that the individual pursuit of power/wealth trumps the interests of the nation and the people.

      Put another way, individual greed in the U.S. has been allowed to achieve primac
  • Right? I mean, this is exactly what a lot of people have been wanting China to do for a while. So this is fantastic. Where's the celebration?
    Why does good news in the east cause complaints about the west? The west pollutes a lot less then China, but somehow an announcement about shutting down antiquated steel mills makes China greener then us? I understand their rate-of-change might be better, but that's not sustainable. They are not going to forgo dams tomorrow as being too environmentally destructive. "
  • China has to do this. China's energy consumption has doubled in the last decade, and just passed that of the US. New capacity is being added very rapidly, but may not be able to keep up with demand. So they need to pull the plug on some of the energy hogs.

    China has traditionally had a shortage economy. China no longer has famines, but they enforce a one-child policy to keep the population from growing further. The Chinese government estimates that it had three to four hundred million fewer people in

  • The U.S. (Score:4, Funny)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:40PM (#33206508) Homepage

    The U.S. also tackled this problem. We did it by shutting down ALL of the steel mills and outsourcing to the low bidder in China. Hey! How's that economy doing?

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