The shale gas fracking boom in the United States has been a game-changer for the US economy and energy needs. Now other countries are looking to exploit this potential in their own country, and the potential in China is huge. That said, there are also many challenges to making this a reality in China.
In China there’s a giddy feeling that the next energy gold rush is about to begin. Beneath the mountains of Sichuan province, the deserts of Xinjiang, and elsewhere, China contains twice the shale- gas reserves as the U.S., says the U.S. Energy Information Administration. China’s national planners enthusiastically back boosting natural gas production, which accounts for just 4 percent of the country’s total energy mix now. The government wants to double that share by 2015. “There’s a lot of exuberance,” says Zhou Xizhou, who leads the research firm IHS Cera’s China Energy practice. “In Beijing, if you work in energy, you probably receive a shale-gas conference notice every week.”
The impact of a shale-gas boom in China will be enormous, with the potential benefits and likely environmental costs perhaps even greater than in the U.S. So far, though, the output in China has been a trickle because of the challenging geography and the monopolistic structure of China’s oil and gas sector. While about 200,000 of the horizontal wells used in fracking have been drilled in the U.S., China has about 60. China has 1,275 trillion cubic feet of shale-gas reserves, compared with 637 trillion cubic feet for the U.S.
The U.S. shale-gas revolution was launched largely on the flatlands of Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and other accessible areas. In China’s mountainous Sichuan basin, “the formations seem to be more faulted and folded, which makes it more difficult and less economic to drill long horizontal well bores,” says Briana Mordick, an Oil & Gas Science Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council and formerly a geologist at Anadarko Petroleum.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. Some environmentalists hate the fracking boom, while others acknowledge that new natural gas tends to replace the much dirtier coal as an energy source, which is a huge plus for the environment. China’s future coal plans have terrified the rest of the world. If they can figure out fracking, perhaps the net gains in carbon emissions can be mitigated.
Here’s an interesting article that explains how there’s much more to Macau than just huge casinos.
Order a generous slice of Macau and you’d be brave to swallow it whole. This is a historical layer cake of clashing flavours. Long, unremarkable centuries of sleepy ancient Chinese fishing villages infused with a whiff of incense from Taoist temples. A slab of Portuguese colonialism – rich, centuries-thick and packed with spices. And on top, a great slathered-on crust of neon candy – luminescent pink, saccharine sweet, saliva-inducing.
Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., disclosed on Jan. 18 that it had uncovered “deliberate accounting misconduct” at Zhengzhou Siwei Mechanical & Electrical Manufacturing Co., a maker of roof-support equipment for underground coal mines that it had acquired last June. Siwei is a subsidiary of ERA Mining Machinery, a Hong Kong-listed firm controlled by a shell company whose principals are two American entrepreneurs in China. Caterpillar paid about $700 million for ERA but said earlier this month it was writing down the value of that company by $580 million. “It’s disappointing,” Oberhelman said. “But how we respond defines us.”
Of course this stuff doesn’t only happen in China. Fraud occurs everywhere. But you would think that a company like Caterpillar would be a little more careful here.
Chinese journalists are taking an understated approach to their calls for reform of China’s censorship laws.
As usual, the Chinese government is walking a tightrope here. They have huge problems on their hands with corruption and other problems, and a free press would force them to account for the problems. In the meantime, the press is growing more difficult to control, and you have social media as well adding more pressure. It will be fascinating to see how this progresses.
If you despise totalitarian government, you’re probably a fan of “V for Vendetta” if you’ve had the opportunity to see the film. If you love freedom, this film, and particularly the film above, will inspire you.
It’s for that reason that the news of out China today is so shocking. Somehow, the censors allowed this film to be broadcast in China. It was already an underground favorite, but now millions in China may be suddenly questioning their own government. We can only hope.
The machinery in China established to produce gold medals in The Olympics is ruthless, and the Chinese people are grappling with the positive and negative effects of this system.
But the crankiness back home could increase in coming days as the Olympic Games heads into events such as track and field, where China hasn’t traditionally been strong. Despite tremendous pride in China’s slim lead over the U.S., the success has sparked debate over the pressure China’s results-driven sports system puts on winning.
That system picks athletes at young ages, grooming them for Olympic gold at national training centers, often far away from their families. Qin, the diver, said he started training at age six. “Sometimes, I get to see (my family) every other year. If the competition schedule is not that tight, maybe sometimes I can spend a whole week with my parents in a year,” he said.
“Every athlete has some pressure,” Qin said. “If you want to be really good, then you have to be able to hold that pressure to perform.”
Last week, 23-year-old weightlifter Wu Jingbiao publicly apologized, bowing in front of the television cameras, for bringing home a silver, not gold, medal. “I feel terribly sorry for my country, China’s weightlifting team and everyone that supports me,” Wu said, fighting back tears. That came after some Chinese newspapers referred to 17-year-old Chinese female weightlifter Zhou Jun as one of the country’s greatest failures.
“It is not the barbell that overwhelmed Wu, but a world of difference in terms of treatment toward gold medal winner and that of silver medal,” said the Southern Metropolis Daily, a newspaper in China’s southern Guangdong province.
An editorial written this week in the state-run China Youth Daily newspaper called for change, saying leaders have hammered hard for medals in pursuit of global recognition that could have been earned in other, more socially beneficial ways. “Even from the standpoint of sports fans, we are more concerned with public affairs that affect our happiness,” the China Youth Daily editorial said.
State-run newspapers have taken the opposite approach, arguing that any criticism of the state’s sports system is criticism of the state itself.
In many ways this debate is a good thing for Chinese culture. It will be interesting to see how this debate evolves.
China’s march towards a modern economy continues unabated, even with reports of a recent slowdown. While the country is still held back by the restrictive policies of the government, censorship and corruption, many changes are afoot that will transform the culture over time. While Internet access is somewhat restricted, Chinese citizens can find information and entertainment if they are determined to do so. They can communicate through social networking, play online games or track poker on Party Poker Television. There’s only so much the government can do to hold back the desires of the Chinese people. They want the brands we have and want to play the games we play. Consumerism is a very powerful force, as people around the world want access to what Western citizens have. With the Internet, they can see what others have, and that influences behavior. Just look at the Middle East and see what social media and online access can do to a restrictive culture.
With gambling, the government has actually accelerated the cultural shift with the support of the massive growth in Macau. Gambling revenues continue to grow rapidly even with a slowdown looming in the overall Chinese economy. Given the size of Macau’s gambling presence this is still impressive growth. The casinos in Las Vegas aren’t happy about it, as the Asian high rollers no longer have Vegas as their primary destination. Macau is closer and bigger.
This isn’t lost on the Chinese people, who now have their own glittering destination for gambling. Naturally, this helps fuel the growth of games like poker in China. The poker popularity explosion is around 15 years old in the United States, but can you imagine the growth of this game as over a billion Chinese people become exposed to the game with the hype surrounding Macau and access to online gaming sites?
Things like this might seem trivial, but small things like poker and gambling can have a huge impact on culture. People demand the right to enjoy entertainment options once they are exposed to them. You can’t put that genie back in the box.
Some of the numbers coming out of China lately have spooked economists and investors, and there’s a real debate as to the strength of the Chinese economy. This article in The Economist takes a more positive outlook.
CHINA’S weight in the global economy means that it commands the world’s attention. When its industrial production, house building and electricity output slow sharply, as they did in the year to April, the news weighs on global stockmarkets and commodity prices. When its central bank eases monetary policy, as it did this month, it creates almost as big a stir as a decision by America’s Federal Reserve. And when China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, stresses the need to maintain growth, as he did last weekend, his words carry more weight with the markets than similar homages to growth from Europe’s leaders. No previous industrial revolution has been so widely watched.
But rapid development can look messy close up, as our special report this week explains; and there is much that is going wrong with China’s economy. It is surprisingly inefficient, and it is not as fair as it should be. But outsiders’ principal concern—that its growth will collapse if it suffers a serious blow, such as the collapse of the euro—is not justified. For the moment, it is likely to prove more resilient than its detractors fear. Its difficulties, and they are considerable, will emerge later on.
Check out the entire argument presented in the article. This issue will be front and center as the world grapples with the problems in Europe. A real slowdown in China could be catastrophic.
There is nothing like when a culture experiences a strong and sudden change. With China going through a revolution over the past generation that is larger than anything since Germany’s military ramping up prior to World War II, the world has to take notice. While there is nothing violent about this change, wise people notice when a hard working people begins to develop a whole new vision that changes their entire lifestyle.
Speed and classical design have begun to mix in China in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Japanese began modernizing in the 19th century. These types of changes do not come around very often, and the world can only ignore this powerhouse at its own risk.
Few things have hit China or the world with quite the speed of the smart phone revolution. While the Blackberry Bold may not seem like a massive change from the old standard, its departure from the classical mold is downright striking when you take it in context. Few inventions or improvements of the past few generations can even come close to comparing to this technology, considering how it has changed life for so many people.
Consider that a generation or two ago, most Chinese people barely had what many westerners consider to be basic utilities in place. Nowadays, they not only have the utilities and infrastructure but the information access capacity that used to be the domain of extremely affluent and well established countries. It’s a whirlwind of change happening all at once.
The Classical Elements
It has been said that the perfect design is one that a person can easily and instinctively figure out how to use. If that is the case, modern smart phone technology has a nearly perfect hold on the minds of its users. When a person can figure out in mere moments how to access just about any information that exists, this is a victory that has few precursors. While the technology itself is very new, the purposes behind it are as old as humanity itself.
The classical appeal of something that contains massive amounts of information and allows you to communicate with others is the modern epitome of what it means to be human in the first place. In China and everywhere else, being able to connect with anyone and everyone is an incredible achievement for everyone. The fact that it’s accessible to anyone is a feat that could not have been performed in generations past.
Keeping Them Merged Seamlessly
It’s an interesting juxtaposition to merge the fast and the classic. When the quest for knowledge and the speed of its access come together, everyone wins in ways that most people could not have previously imagined. This ability to share communication and knowledge is a victory of human intention that was first tested in Europe, perfected in the United States and brought to China for its ultimate realization. As the Chinese learn and communicate more effectively than ever before, their wealth and freedom cannot help but grow exponentially.