The Chinese Steel Industry’s Transformation
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The Chinese Steel Industry’s Transformation

Structural Change, Performance and Demand on Resources

Edited by Ligang Song and Haimin Liu

This unique and informative book provides a central reference work on the Chinese steel industry and discusses China’s increasing demand on metals from both macroeconomic and regional perspectives.
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Chapter 2: Metal intensity in comparative historical perspective: China, North Asia and the United States

Huw McKay


The aim of this chapter is to shed light on China’s future path of steel and base metal intensity by referencing the experience of relevant peers through their point of entry into the global strategic transition (Snooks, 1998) – which is the vehicle by which industrialization has been disseminated round the world – and beyond. Will China follow a path like Korea, which has stayed in the metalintensive sweet spot for a sustained period of time; or will it touch only briefly on the middle-income sweet spot of metal intensity en route to the current resting place of the European economies and their offshoots? Will it eventually sit just on the more metal-intensive side of the high-income cohort, in a place similar to that where Japan resides? These questions go to the very roots of Chinese long-run economic strategy and performance. The immense scale of China’s megastate means that its strategic choices will generate substantial externalities that will require assertive responses from others. A better understanding of the path of metal intensity through time in a broader range of countries would be a great help to those tackling the immense task of meeting and responding to China’s long-run metal demands.

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