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I have heard some pundits in the United States, such as Edward Luttwak, a military strategist, describing fast-growing China as a fat man entering an elevator. They say that because the man is so large he should be ultra-polite to people already in the elevator.
This description not only distorts the reality, it sows the seeds for more misunderstanding and distrust.
China is not a fat man, but a healthy, growing adolescent.
With double-digit growth for almost three decades, China has undoubtedly been the most noticeable of the emerging economies. And with 1.3 billion people, about one-fifth of the global population, it would be unfair to try and keep China a skinny boy. That is also true for India, which boasts a population of 1.1 billion, and other major emerging nations such as Indonesia and Brazil.
For a long time, these nations have not had the chance to develop like they have today, so those folks already in the elevator should simply move a bit to allow these adolescents to enter the elevator, instead of standing in front of the doors blocking the way.
Just like the ongoing debate between the developing and the developed nations on climate change, it is unreasonable and unfair to require China, or India, which both have populations several times that of the US, to emit less greenhouse gases than the superpower. In a per capita sense, the US discharges much more carbon dioxide.
On the other hand, it would obviously benefit the world if China and India could manage to control their greenhouse gas emissions amid their rapid economic growth. It would mean that they are following a more sustainable and green path of development than the industrialized world.