The widespread power blackout across India this past week holds lessons for China which is beginning to grapple with its own "development bottlenecks", a state-run newspaper said on Thursday.
The power blackout, seen as one of the most serious in history, underscored the dilemma developing countries faced with growing consumption amid increasing public opposition to large-scale hydropower and nuclear projects, said the Communist Party-run Global Times in a Thursday editorial.
“Other developing countries including China can use the incident to reflect on their own problems,” the newspaper said, adding that “electricity powers a country’s modernisation”.
China’s power generation volume last year exceeded that of the United States, making it the world’s largest. India’s was “one-fifth of China’s scale”, the Global Times pointed out. The newspaper said China too needed to generate more power to support higher living standards, and needed “to double the current power generation to sustain the country’s modernisation drive.”
China is, however, facing increasing barriers to doing so, with “strong resistance from public opinion” to building more hydropower stations and big energy projects. Anti-pollution protests have, in recent months, triggered unrest in China with growing public awareness and environmental activism. Only last week, thousands of protesters clashed with police and stormed government offices in the town of Qidong, near Shanghai, to protest a waste-water pipeline project.
China’s massive expansion of its nuclear power sector has also slowed down after regulators ordered a safety review following the disaster in Fukushima, Japan last year.
“India is stuck in a dilemma, but China is also facing a developing bottleneck,” the editorial said. “Its per capita electricity consumption is still much lower than the level of developed countries, but the public is demanding the same living standards enjoyed by rich countries.”
The paper also noted that in India there was “little possibility that the public will approve large-scale nuclear or hydropower stations” after "successive administrations failed" to tackle the energy problem. It said that while India and China were at the same development stage in the 1950s, India had lagged behind in building its infrastructure because of the different “policymaking ability and the implementation process of the two countries."
While China has been able to push through projects against opposition with little public consultation in the past, the paper said China "has to move forward to realise better human rights for its people. This means it must be rational in pursuing its dream."