Virtually everywhere one looks -- from the Asia-Pacific to Africa, and from Siberia to South and Central America -- China is behind hard-driving schemes to exploit the planet's natural resources.
China is not only the world's biggest polluter in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but it is the largest global consumer of timber, construction minerals, iron ores, wildlife, and many other natural resources -- considerable amounts of which are obtained illegally, via corruption or smuggling.
And through its massive investments in new roads, railroads, mining, dams, and other infrastructure, China is also substantially responsible for opening up many of the world's last remaining wild areas to exploitation.
China is upset because the nation of Myanmar (formerly Burma) has just handed out stiff jail sentences for illegal logging to more than 150 Chinese nationals. The loggers were arrested in January following a crackdown on illegal forest activities.
Editorials in Chinese state-run media have expressed outrage at the arrests, demanding that those arrested be returned to China.
For years China has sucked up timber and other natural resources in Myanmar, leading to growing frustration and resentment there.
A court in northern Myanmar -- where illegal logging has been especially rampant -- just handed out 'life' sentences to 153 Chinese loggers. Such sentences typically run for 20 years in Myanmar.
Despite the heated Chinese protests, the Myanmar government said it would not interfere in the judicial process.
While the sentences are certainly severe, they reflect a growing view that Chinese investors, corporations, and workers often display a predatory attitude when working in foreign nations.
China is overwhelmingly the biggest global driver of the illegal wildlife trade, consuming vast quantities of ivory, pelts, bones, shark fins, and hundreds of other wildlife products, including those from a number of endangered species.
No nation consumes more tropical timber than China. It has been heavily criticized both for failing to support illegal-logging measures internationally and for pursuing mainly raw logs from timber-exporting nations.