日期:2015-01-06 17:42


New book argues Chinese firms'presence in Latin America focuses on the most environmentally-damaging sector
Question: when did contemporary political and media debate start on China's "entry" into the Western hemisphere?

Answer: January 1997, when Panama awarded concessions to a Chinese company to operate port facilities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts at both ends of the Panama Canal, just after having obtained control of it from the US.


Question: when did Latin America and the Caribbean wake up to its dramatically expanding new relationship with China?

Answer: November 2004, when the then Chinese president Hu Jintao visited Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba and apparently spoke of the possibility of investing US$100 billion in the region – although the Chinese government later claimed it had been mistranslated and the US$100 billion referred to bilateral trade.
That, at least, is what Evan Ellis, a researcher at the U.S. Army War College and considered by some to be a leading expert on China-Latin America relations, states in his new book China on the Ground in Latin America: Challenges for the Chinese and Impacts on the Region. Ellis's main argument is that in the last few years the Chinese have started to establish a new, "significant" physical presence in Latin America and the Caribbean – following trade deals, acquisitions, loans and loan-backed construction projects, among other things. As a result, Ellis argues that China now finds itself, for the first time in its 5,000 year history, connected to however many million non-Chinese people in other countries and dependent on the "success and well-being of its commercial representatives in distant parts of the world."
While the focus of his book is Chinese acquisitions, loans, other commercial dealings and the challenges these pose for the Chinese government, companies and Chinese people living in Latin America, Ellis has various things to say about the environment. Here are 10 – some of which you may agree with, others you may not – I picked out: Evan Ellis,
美国陆军学院研究员,是研究中国-拉美关系的知名专家。情况至少像这位专家在它的新书《中国在拉美大陆:中国的挑战和对拉美的影响》里说的大抵相同。他的主要观点是,最近几年,伴随着中国在这个区域的一系列的贸易,兼并,贷款和承揽基于贷款的建设工程,中国已经开始在拉美和加勒比地区建立新的“令人瞩目”的实际存在,另外还有其他的影响。因此,Ellis认为中国现在已经意识到,她在5000年的历史中从未与其他国家的如此众多非华裔群体产生过这么紧密的联系,而且依赖于这些遥远地方的商业代表们的成功和幸福。 虽然这本书的重点是阐述中国在拉美的兼并,贷款和其他商业贸易活动,以及国政府,企业和在拉美生活的中国人面临的挑战。但是Ellis对环境问题也谈了不少看法。我从中挑出来10条,让大家可以根据自己的理解去判断。
1. Chinese companies have focused on developing their physical presence in Latin America in the sectors that are most likely to generate environmental impacts and concerns: petroleum, mining and agriculture. The Chinese presence in petroleum is most significant in Venezuela, Ecuador and Argentina, and in mining in Ecuador and Peru.
2. Resistance from "environmentalists and local communities" is one of the major challenges facing Chinese companies trying to make acquisitions and win contracts in Latin America. To date, projects involving Chinese investors have "often" been "opposed on environmental grounds, or because of their impact on local communities and indigenous groups," writes Ellis, citing the Chone dam project and Mirador mine in Ecuador, the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, the Rio Blanco mine in Peru, the Lupe mine in Mexico, a soy processing facility in Rio Negro in Argentina, the Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, and the River Magdalena in Colombia as examples.
2.来自环保人士和当地社区的抗议是中国企业在拉美开展并购和承揽项目时,面临的最大挑战。迄今为止,涉及中国资本的项目经常遭遇搁浅,要么因为环境原因遭到反对,要么由于对当地社区和土著群体产生了不利影响。Ellis在书中援引了下面的几个项目:厄瓜多尔的Chone水坝工程和米拉多尔采矿工程,巴西的贝洛蒙特水坝工程,秘鲁的里约布兰科采矿工程,墨西哥的卢佩采矿工程,阿根廷的尼格罗大豆加工厂工程,洪都拉斯Agua Zarca水坝工程以及哥伦比亚的马格达莱纳河工程。
3. Opposition to Chinese projects on environmental grounds is "likely to expand in the future because of the number of potential projects. . . that involve environmentally sensitive areas." These include plans to develop Goat Island, Jamaica, into an "international shipping hub" and the exploitation of the Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini (ITT) oil fields in the far east of the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador where Ellis says the “Chinese corporations who have already done the exploratory drilling are the leading contenders" to win contracts. Indeed, Ellis states that although "no official link” exists between ITT and the construction of a new refinery on Ecuador's Pacific coast, "a senior Ecuadorian source speaking off-the-record suggested that the granting of the rights for ITT may be a condition pursued by the Chinese for the funding of the Refinery. . . which would be fed by the petroleum extracted there."
3.涉及自然保护区的潜在项目有很多,因而中国承揽的项目因为环境原因遭到反对的情况很在未来会越来越普遍。潜在的项目包括牙买加公羊岛国际航运中心项目和厄瓜多尔亚苏尼国家公园远东ITT(Ishpingo, Tambococha and Tiputini )油田项目。关于后者,Ellis提到,一家中国企业已经实施可行性钻探,并且是项目的主要竞争者。事实上,Ellis说,尽管ITT 和在厄瓜多尔海岸新建炼油厂之间不存在官方联系,但是一位厄瓜多尔高层人士曾非正式表示,中国可能会根据ITT油田项目的中标情况来决定是否给这个炼油厂出资,而在将来这个炼油厂的用油将会来自ITT油田。
4. Environmental concerns are a major challenge for Chinese companies not because they are "inherently less respectful of the environment" than others, but "because of a confluence of factors" including the high environmental impacts of the sectors they are focusing on, a "cultural distance" between Chinese and Latin American people, and Chinese companies' lack of experience in the region. One example: “Chinese executives and managers often presume that local authorities will be able to force local residents to comply with decisions to relocate their homes. . . and may mistakenly presume that, as long as they have reached an agreement with the appropriate government authorities, the local communities and other actors will comply with the decisions."
5. "Environmental complaints" have already been made about various ongoing Chinese projects. These include the Marcona mine in Peru run by the company Shougang, the Cerro Maimon mine in the Dominican Republic, and the Sierra Grande mine in Argentina.
5.各种各样的中国在建项目都会遭到环保方面的投诉,比如首钢在秘鲁马尔科纳的采矿项目,多明尼亚的Cerro Maimon采矿项目以及阿根廷的赛拉格兰德采矿项目。
6. Chinese companies "have made efforts to improve their environmental practices where they have felt it necessary to do so, in order to avoid problems with governments and communities." Ellis cites new technology by company Bosai to address dust problems caused by bauxite mining in Guyana as one example, and ten "environmental protection projects oriented toward wastewater, dust and air pollution" at the Marcona mine in Peru as another.
7. Offshore drilling by Chinese companies in Latin America and the Caribbean is particularly risky in terms of environmental impacts because “they are relatively new to producing and using deepwater drilling technology." Ellis argues that Chinese operations are "arguably even more vulnerable to such risks" than was BP before the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico blowout in 2010.
8. Although "many [Chinese companies in Latin America] do behave badly" – either "due to a combination of willful imposition of Chinese norms and practices that do not function well in the new context, or accidentally, due to a lack of knowledge regarding local norms" – they "do not inherently behave worse than their Western counterparts" (Ellis's italics).
9. A "significant portion" of the new Chinese presence in Latin America is in the renewable energy sector where companies "have been a key force in the “green revolution" transforming the energy generation mix" and "slowly moving the electricity infrastructure of the region away from fossil fuels." Ellis states that "of the many projects and acquisitions by Chinese firms in the electricity generation sector. . . only a very small number have involved traditional fossil fuel power generation facilities", with a focus instead on hydroelectric and what Ellis calls a "wave of new solar and wind power projects" across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico.
10. What better way to end than with one particularly emblematic example and startling claim? Despite a January 2014 announcement that work would begin on a canal through Nicaragua by the end of this year or early 2015, "as this book went to press, a public announcement regarding the route to be taken by the canal had not been made, nor had any information been made public regarding environmental impact" (my italics, this time). Indeed, a report published in September by the Alexander von Humboldt Studies Centre in Nicaragua states that "technical information of environmental character generated during the design, construction and operation of the Great Canal and associated projects will remain confidential,” under the terms of the concession agreement. Von Humboldt calls the canal – due to be built by the Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company – and associated infrastructure the biggest environmental threat to the country in its history.