The Pacific Coast province wants the federal government to ban the shipment of U.S. thermal coal bound for customers in Asia.
.. U.S. producers have shipped thermal coal, used by power plants to produce electricity, to British Columbia export terminals due to a lack of U.S. capacity in U.S. ports. The British Columbia government estimates that last year the Port of Vancouver handled 6.2 million metric tons of U.S. thermal coal.
.. Cloud Lake Energy Inc., a Gillette, Wyoming coal producer which ships thermal coal to foreign customers via Westshore’s Vancouver terminal, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
About a third of China’s wealth belongs to just one per cent of the population. While China’s poor still inhabit a developing-world economy, a recent report found that the country now has more dollar billionaires than the U.S. does. “What is happening in China constitutes one of the most rapid emergences of wealth stratification in human history,” Jeffrey Winters, a politics professor at Northwestern University, told me. Winters, the author of the book “Oligarchy,” pointed out that China is one of a small number of countries—Russia is the other notable example—where extreme wealth stratification was eliminated in a Communist revolution and then later reëmerged. As in Russia, the sudden formation of a new oligarchy in China means that there are many super-rich people who are unfamiliar with the ways in which more entrenched aristocracies quietly protect their wealth. “No matter the culture or age, old money knows from long experience that it is far safer to be secluded and less seen,” Winters said. But new money, as Thorstein Veblen theorized, asserts itself through conspicuous consumption.
.. A study by the Bank of China and the Hurun Report found that sixty per cent of the country’s rich people were either in the process of moving abroad or considering doing so.
.. But, for affluent Chinese, the most basic reason to move abroad is that fortunes in China are precarious. The concerns go deeper than anxiety about the country’s slowing growth and turbulent stock market; it is very difficult to progress above a certain level in business without cultivating, and sometimes buying, the support of government officials, who are often ousted in anti-corruption sweeps instigated by rivals.
.. “there’s always a fear that, if the officials to whom they’re tied are brought down in an anti-corruption campaign, it could bring trouble for them, too, and lead to the seizure of their assets. There’s also a concern that business rivals who may be better connected to people in the government could use their ties to the party-state to bring down their competitors.”
.. I asked him if the people he works with could be considered China’s one per cent. “I wouldn’t say that they are the one per cent,” Oei replied. “More like between the one and two per cent.” His clients tend to have prospered in regional manufacturing cities, whereas the very wealthiest people are from Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. “The tippy top of the pyramid have political backing or connections,” he said. “They don’t need to export the wealth.”
.. The home buyer, typically the husband, lives and works in Asia, where cash can be made fast, while establishing his family members in Canada in order to move the money to a place of social and political stability. Yan has coined the term “hedge city” for places like Vancouver: they are a hedge against volatility at home.
.. He has recommended raising the tax on vacant investment properties and called for “far better tracking” of international investment and absentee owners. But it seems unlikely that such measures will be implemented. As prices have risen, ordinary Canadians have found that their homes represent more and more of their net worth. Many people in the federal government, including the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, have advocated caution when it comes to steps that would depress property values. Besides, rich international buyers mean higher tax revenues. “The state is addicted to the revenue,” Eby told me.
.. Westerners are all about being straightforward and direct. But, when you negotiate a deal in China, it’s all about what’s unsaid, simultaneously hiding and hinting at what you really want.
.. It’s like this: when I am driving here and need to make a turn, I turn on my signal light and do it. It’s the most normal thing in the world. When I first drove in Asia, I flashed my signal and immediately people, instead of slowing down, all sped up to cut me off. It was so maddening, and then, after a little while, I became like everyone else. I never signal when I turn in Asia. I just do it. You don’t have a choice.”