Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mind Boggling China Facts

I came across a list of "mind boggling" facts about China in Business Insider. Our students helped us understand that the China we know today was born in 1978. The massive growth and progress that has taken place since that modern China date of birth helps mask what happened during the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. This list is somewhat boggling.

1. 20 million trees are cut every year to meet the Chinese demand for chopsticks. I wonder if the word 'trees' also refers to bamboo since most all the chopsticks we ever use are made of bamboo. I remember reading an article in China Daily that reflected concern about the wasteful use of chopsticks in China. They are trying to figure out how to recycle chopsticks and cut back on the massive consumption to natural resources it takes to provide a brand new pair of chopsticks for every meal for a billion people.

2. China's railway line could loop around Earth twice. I'll wager you're thinking 'bullet train' railway, like Europe. Think again. While a massive effort is underway to build a modern, bullet train railway system to crisscross China, only the biggest or most popular cities are presently connected. Students and friends in China tell me stories about traveling home on the extensive railway system of slow, Soviet-style trains. They often buy cheap, standing-room-only tickets whereby they stand &/or sit in the aisle for a 5 hour trip that a bullet train could travel in 2 hours.

3. China's coal reserves weigh as much a 575 million blue whales. China accounts for 46% of global coal production and 49% of global coal consumption. This consumption isn't going to diminish any time soon because China has definite growth goals. Pretty much cancels out recent edicts in the West.

4. In 2 years, China produced more cement than the U.S. did in the 20th century. It's amazing to behold a totally cement, 40-story apartment building under construction, and very polluting. A lot of that cement was used to build those infamous Chinese ghost cities.

5. Smoking kills 1 million Chinese every year. A drop in the bucket when life is expendable. 

6. China's natural gas reserves are equivalent to about 1.24 BILLION Olympic-size swimming pools, each of which has the volume of 88,000 cubic feet. And there are no issues about building pipelines to transport the stuff.

7. China's annual instant-noodle consumption is enough to feed all of Algeria's 38.7 million people 3 meals a day for a year. At lunchtime one sees thousand of folks eating noodles that they carry in plastic bags which are placed in metal or plastic bowls ….eaten with chopsticks, of course.

8. China eats about 5,200 Eiffel tower's 10,000 tons worth of pork every year…that's 52 million tons a year. This sounds like a lot of meat is being eaten but that's not necessarily so. Chinese meals are 80% vegetables with 20% slivers of pork or chicken or fish. Very little beef.

9. China's 20 richest people have a combined net worth of $145 billion; larger than Hungary's GDP.  By itself this trivia fact looks impressive; big fish in little pond stuff.  China's emerging middle class is nibbling at the big fish.

10. Over 30 million people in China live in caves; that's more than the population of Saudi Arabia. That's a lot of folks without proper plumbing; with a lot of chickens. No wonder SARS epidemics flare up.

11. About 8 billion pairs of socks are made annually in China's Datang District, also known as Sock City. That's some kind of export. I didn't see all that many Chinese wearing socks.

12. China's suicide rate is more than double that of the U.S.; about 22.2 deaths per 100,000. That sounds pretty bad a first glance but percentage-wise, China is way behind the U.S. on this one with a population of only 250,000,000.

13. China is close in size to the continental U.S. but has only one time zone. It's not easy living in darkness at 5:30 p.m. Many buildings are lit up at night with walls of neon lights so they can be seen at 6 p.m. in the dark mixed with the fog of pollution. 

14. China's food system feeds nearly 25% of the earth's population on just 7% of its arable land. At the rate that citizens are moving or being moved into cities, it's a wonder anyone's left to work the arable land. Urban sprawl has gobbled up rich farm land at an alarming rate. 

15. Chinese consumer spending will triple by 2020 from $2 trillion in 2010 to $6 trillion in 2020. Retail therapy is alive and well in China.
The government owns the streets by day but the people's exciting night markets spill out onto the sidewalks everywhere. Serious bling and conspicuous consumption are all the rage. I love how Chinese women wear interesting, fashionable clothes…not the ubiquitous T-shirts & jeans in the West.

16. Half the world's pigs live in China; that's 475 million. They're smaller and cheaper to raise than cattle. While there may be a lot of pigs, the oinkers are way out-numbered by the chickens.

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