Environmental governance in China:Interactions between the state and “nonstate actors”

Guttman, Dan and Young, Oran and Jing, Yijia and Bramble, Barbara and Bu, Maoliang and Chen, Carmen and Furst, Kathinka and Hu, Tao and Li, Yifei and Logan, Kate and Liu, Lingxuan and Price, Lydia and Spencer, Michael and Suh, Sangwon and Sun, Xiaopu and Tan, Bowen and Wang, Harold and Wang, Xin and Zhang, Juan and Zhang, Xinxin and Zeidan, Rodrigo (2018) Environmental governance in China:Interactions between the state and “nonstate actors”. Journal of Environmental Management, 220. pp. 126-135. ISSN 0301-4797

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In the West, limited government capacity to solve environmental problems has triggered the rise of a variety of “nonstate actors” to supplement government efforts or provide alternative mechanisms for addressing environmental issues. How does this development - along with our efforts to understand it - map onto environmental governance processes in China? China's efforts to address environmental issues reflect institutionalized governance processes that differ from parallel western processes in ways that have major consequences for domestic environmental governance practices and the governance of China “going abroad.” China's governance processes blur the distinction between the state and other actors; the “shadow of the state” is a major factor in all efforts to address environmental issues. The space occupied by nonstate actors in western systems is occupied by shiye danwei (“public service units”), she hui tuanti (“social associations”) and e-platforms, all of which have close links to the state. Meanwhile, international NGOs and multinational corporations are also significant players in China. As a result, the mechanisms of influence that produce effects in China differ in important ways from mechanisms familiar from the western experience. This conclusion has far-reaching implications for those seeking to address global environmental concerns, given the importance of China's growing economy and burgeoning network of trade relationships.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Environmental Management
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Environmental Management. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Environmental Management, 20, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.04.104
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30 May 2018 12:10
Last Modified:
15 Jan 2023 02:11