Great hunger

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 September, 2003, 12:00am

China's growth over the last 10 years has amazed and delighted the world. No country has brought more people out of poverty in such a short time.

There is a dark side to this growth, however, which it seems the world is happy not to think about at this stage. China has limited natural resources and must import huge amounts of food.

Already, soyabean production in Brazil has jumped because of Chinese demand, with corresponding deforestation in the Amazon region as land is cleared. Environmental groups in Brazil have voiced their concern.

Nations in East Africa have reported that their coast lines are being fished out by mainland fleets and reef fish in the Philippines are being depleted, all to cater to insatiable demand in southern China and Hong Kong.

China is one of the biggest importers of wood products from West Africa, another area of the world with no safeguards against deforestation.

Ten years ago, every person in China wanted a bike. Now they want a car. At present China is the second- largest importer of oil and before long it will be the largest, with related pollution and traffic problems.

How will the world cope with this demand? Zimbabwe has leased agricultural land to Chinese companies for food production. Will more Third World nations supply China to the detriment of their own people?


Immigration wait

I refer to 'Airport queue' (September 26) in which Josh Zeitman bemoans waiting 45 minutes to clear immigration at Chek Lap Kok after a flight from New York.

While I have some sympathy with his plight (as a regular traveller, I spend more than my fair share of time in immigration lines), he should nevertheless consider himself very fortunate that he does not have to queue up in the visitor lines in his own country.

I have travelled to the US often, and no matter which city one enters through there is inevitably a wait in excess of an hour, which is compounded by rude, discourteous and surly officials, marshalling lines as if they were corralling cattle.

This is not a result of the increased security after September 11, 2001 - it has always been like this. Glass houses and stones spring to mind, Mr Zeitman.