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Are links strong enough?

For recyclers engaged in international commerce (and that is a healthy percentage this decade), a world in conflict--or one that begins dividing itself into walled off compounds--presents a gloomy prospect.

Although the Iron Curtain has been removed and the Bamboo Curtain is now opened up with trade zones, there are still parts of the world where outsiders are distrusted and outside ideas forbidden.

Some current tensions pose the very real danger of escalating, though optimists hope that international commerce is among the factors that can prevent greater chaos. Throughout the past several years, as violence has increased in parts of the world, international shipping lanes remained busier than at any time in human history.

The power of international trade and travel can best be seen in China, a nation that cut itself off from the rest of the world for several decades, its leaders certain that the best course of action was to turn inward and minimize contact with the outside world.

The prospect may have seemed attractive compared to the nation's recent involvement with colonialism and Japanese expansionism. Ultimately, though, by cordoning itself off from the rest of the world, the Chinese government offered its people a lifestyle not only devoid of the technological advances occurring in the rest of the world, but also where ambition, possibilities and hope were hard to find.

Critics can rightly accuse Chinese leadership of being very selective in its openness to new ideas, as well as reacting slowly to the "have" and "have not" tensions that accompany a move to a market economy.

But the openness of the past 20 years in that nation has allowed its people to make connections with people in virtually every other part of the world. Much more so than in the era of the Iron and Bamboo Curtains, the well being of the Chinese government and its people is linked with global stability that keeps shipping lanes open.

Some cynics have long worried about a "war is good for business" mentality, perhaps envisioning cigar-puffing vendors of munitions. Recyclers engaged in international trade know better.
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Author:Taylor, Brian
Publication:Recycling Today
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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Next Article:Growing gateway: scrap yards operated by the Tung Tai Group, San Jose, Calif., now dot the landscape along China's coast.

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