chapter  16
32 Pages

Saving the Bad Earth? China's Environmental Crisis

WithChristopher J. Smith

This chapter outlines some of the dimensions of a political economy approach to China's environmental crisis and explores some problems in environmental policymaking. It considers the crisis from a global perspective, as events in China can no longer be considered in isolation. Chinese history demonstrates that relations between people and their environments are often contradictory, in that the environment is both a resource for and a constraint to development. Some critics have suggested that maintenance of other flood management systems has been neglected by the government's obsession with the new dam. Most important, the discharge fee system has failed in its original intent: to create economic incentives to encourage enterprises to reduce original pollution rates and use the collected and returned funds to invest in new and cleaner technology. In addition, any new policy is far more likely to be implemented if the system of government is conflict-oriented rather than operating under the so-called consensus politics of a one-party system.