|China has "eclipsed" the US as a consumer
China has overtaken the US in the consumption of
basic agricultural and industrial goods, a survey has found.
With a booming economy and 1.3bn
people, it is now the world's largest consumer of grain, meat, coal and
steel, said the Earth Policy Institute.
But China's insatiable demands are putting ever more pressure on the
country's natural resources.
Air and water pollution are already serious problems, and there is talk
of a looming ecological crisis.
China is well ahead of the US in the consumption of goods such as
television sets, refrigerators and mobile phones, according to the
Washington-based Earth Policy Institute.
However, per capita consumption in China - the world's most populous
country - remains far below that of the US.
According to the report:
64m tons of meat were consumed in China in 2004 compared to 38m tons in
258m tons of steel were used in China in 2003 compared to 104m in the
China's factories and homes burned 40% more coal than in the US
The number of PCs in China is doubling every 28 months.
official figures for the Chinese economy, the sixth-largest in the world,
show it is growing at an even faster rate than expected.
It expanded by 9.5% in 2004, its highest rate for eight years, the
"China's eclipse of the United States as a consumer nation should be
seen as another milestone along the path of its evolution as a world
economic leader," Lester Brown, the institute's president, said.
"China is no longer just a developing country," he said. "It is an
emerging economic superpower, one that is writing economic history".