China’s love-hate relationship with foreign trash, money-minded scientists and other stories you may have missed

Some good stories this week and why they matter in the bigger scheme of things

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 July, 2017, 8:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 July, 2017, 9:41am

China bans ‘loathsome’ foreign trash

Why you should care:

China has been importing garbage for decades. In 2015, it bought more than 46 million tonnes of rubbish from abroad. That didn’t even include the trash smuggling trade. The waste brought in is recycled and then sold; it’s a lucrative business, so why ban the practice? The move will have global implications: how are other countries going to handle all the waste that they can’t sell to China any more? (And if you’re really interested, check out these horror stories of how some unscrupulous Chinese operators took recycling discarded medical waste and used adult diapers a tad too far.)

Can the Catholic faith serve politics? That’s what China wants

Why you should care:

How do you combine the Catholic faith with Chinese culture and tradition? How do you interpret the Vatican’s religious teachings so that they match China’s needs and advance its interests? Seems like a tough call, but that’s what Beijing wants its officially sanctioned Catholic association to do. Religious scholars deliberate their options.

China wants three-way talks in Israel-Palestine dispute

Why you should care:

China is rising as a world power and it wants to be the middle man in the protracted Middle East dispute between Israel and Palestine. With Beijing often warning countries not to meddle in its affairs, why is it so keen this time to involve itself in a conflict thousands of miles away from its own territories? Clue: Chinese interests are at stake, of course.

Are China’s scientists chasing cash over seeking the truth?

Why you should care:

Chinese academics are paid handsome sums for getting their research papers published in international journals, and the financial rewards have been rising substantially. Guess how much each published paper is now worth? For a sense of scale, a university professor can earn 20 times his annual salary for each successful publication. So if it’s cash he’s after, the practice makes it more worthwhile for him to spend his time churning out many papers quickly than devoting his life to in-depth research. If China’s scientists are being driven by monetary incentives rather than a genuine passion for the truth, the future of research could be headed in a dangerous direction.

Beijing watches out for ‘grey rhino’ and ‘black swan’ in the jungle of financial risks

Why you should care:

China’s top leaders and policymakers are actively navigating the country’s veritable jungle of financial risks by reading widely. And they’re adopting fascinating new terms introduced in Western authors’ books, using them to describe the country’s financial situation. The phenomenon, seen in a Communist Party mouthpiece’s editorial this week, suggests one way the West may be able influence how China’s movers and shakers view the world.