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US pulling a fast one with its waste claims | Updated: 2018-03-27 19:38
A border guard in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, inpects bundles of waste textiles smuggled into China. Mao Siqian/Xinhua

Does China have an obligation to import and treat the solid waste of other countries?

When a US representative at the World Trade Organization Council for Trade in Goods on Friday expressed concerns that China's ban on imports of solid waste could cause a fundamental disruption in global supply chains for scrap materials, he must have forgotten his country claims to be dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Instead of trying to suggest that China is acting selfishly, it is the developed nations such as the United States that should have a guilty conscience for acting purely out of their own self-interest. For being unwilling to pay the costs of processing their hazardous waste themselves, the developed countries have exported it to China – and other developing countries - which has caused untold damage to its environment and led to Chinese workers contracting serious diseases from sorting and treating the waste.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal stipulates that every country has the right to ban the entry of foreign hazardous waste and other sorts of waste. It is absolutely ridiculous and unreasonable to accuse China of breaching WTO rules by banning imports of solid waste.

Even if there was no world treaty about imports and exports of solid waste, it is common sense and should be a moral imperative for each country to process and treat its own solid waste if it is able to. There is no reason why those countries that had become accustomed to exporting their hazardous waste to China should take it for granted they would be able to foist their harmful materials onto it forever.

Restricting and banning the imports of solid waste is not a matter of WTO rules, and neither is it a matter of trade. It is a matter of China implementing its new development priorities, which put people's well-being and environmental health first.

Behind the remarks of the US representative is the condescending manner some in the West habitually adopt toward China and other developing countries, considering them as inferior to their developed counterparts. Such a mentality goes against the values of equality they claim to champion.

Such shamelessness is the instigator of every kind of baseness, not least the slurs with which the US is trying to taint the justified actions of China. It is deceitful for the US to say China is shying away from performing its duty, when it is the US that is trying to wriggle out of its waste disposal obligations.

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