Environment, resource constraints biggest 'gray rhinos' in China: author

Updated 2017-07-27 09:54:35 Xinhua

The biggest gray rhinos facing China at present are the environment and resource constraints, which are so closely tied together, Michele Wucker, author of the book The GRAY RHINO said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua recently.

By gray rhino, Wucker is referring to a highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat that is not a random surprise, but occurs after a series of warnings and visible evidence.

Michele Wucker shows in The GRAY RHINO how to recognize and strategically counter looming high impact threats and how to recognize and act on the obvious dangers we ignore.

Talking about the biggest gray rhinos facing China, Wucker said the traditional thinking about the environment and economic growth was there was a trade-off: if one country wanted to grow, it had to accept more pollution.

But "China is farther ahead on recognizing that cleaning up the environment and growing the economy aren't necessarily opposite," Wucker said, adding that China is growing its economy by investing in clean technologies, in sustainable infrastructure, and in looking at new ways to manage the economy.

Wucker admired the growth of the sharing economy all over the world, particularly in China, and the way that the sharing economy dramatically reduces the number of assets that needs to acquire and produce. "When you join the middle class, you no longer feel like you need to buy a car to get around. That ride-hailing giant Didi in China, Lyft and Uber in the states are able to fulfill, and that actually creates jobs for other people and employs people's assets," Wucker said.

Wucker took sharing economy a great example of how China has begun to deal with some of the challenges of resource constraints and environmental impact.

The combination of empty buildings and high prices is another gray rhino, Wucker said, referring to China.

Wucker noticed that the Chinese government recently issued a warning about financial risk. "The more China is surgical in its approach to financial risk, the more successful it's going to be and the less collateral damage it will create," Wucker told Xinhua.

Wucker held that many of those who've been feeding financial and real estate bubbles are speculators who've taken on a lot of debt to do that. But a smaller number of people have put in some of their own money. "It's very important for China to address the problem of the speculators without hurting the little guy."

Wucker has been to China four times, and has been looking at China closely. "China has grown so quickly, it has such ambitions that investors in many cases have a very strong faith in the power of the Chinese government to avert disasters," Wucker said. "I've been very heartened to see that the Chinese government is so frank and open about the challenges it knows it faces." "There are growing pains and it's been fascinating to watch as China has juggled some of these problems." China needs to accelerate growth, to bring people out of poverty and to bring people in the middle class up to a higher standard of living. But at the same time China needs to create jobs without creating more pollution. That's a very big challenge I've seen China paying attention to, it's got a long way to go but it's doing something not nothing, that's important," Wucker said.

Wucker held that all countries around the world are still dealing with the consequences of the financial crisis. The United States, Europe, China all expanded their monetary policy dramatically to keep things from getting worse. "China wisely did more with its fiscal policy (by) investing more in infrastructure, really tried to take advantage of low interest rates to move things forward."

"Gray rhino is a friend. If you recognize it, you have so much more power to get ahead. So it's important to deal with things under a sense of urgency before they become bigger later. People who are honest and open about the challenges they face are the ones who are more likely to be able to deal with those challenges successfully and also to turn those challenges into opportunities," Wucker said.

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