"China's environmental problems also spill over to other countries, which are increasingly affected through sharing the same planet, atmosphere, and oceans with China," Liu and Diamond note. "In turn, other countries affect China's environment through globalization as well as through their own environmental pollution and resource exploitation."
Liu and Diamond itemize a litany of push and pull between China and the rest of the world. The hallmark is environmental damage which places economic, social and health burdens with which China is ill-equipped to cope.
The developed nations, Liu and Diamond argue, carry a strong moral obligation to lead in helping the developing nations protect the environment and achieve economic sustainability. In the developed nations, the big picture is easier to see on a full stomach. Protections such as laws, zoning rules and regulations are possible thanks to the luxury of economic power. The developing nations' first priority on the most basic needs makes bigger-picture concerns harder to address.
"When China produces something for export, they use natural resources and release pollutants to the environment," Liu said. "You leave the pollution behind. Thus, importing countries contribute to China's environmental problems."
The developing nations offer lucrative markets, but markets that come with an environmental price. Diamond noted that Westerners must realize China's benefits come at a price.