UM  > Faculty of Social Sciences
Environmental Problems in China: Issues and Prospects
Zabielskis, Peter
Source PublicationSocial issues in China : gender, ethnicity, labor, and the environment
Author of SourceZhidong Hao, Sheying Chen
Publication PlaceNew York

China’s environmental problems are numerous and complex. Like many developing nations in the early stages of economic growth, it seems to have followed an initial policy of having enforced few environmental protection policies and of pursuing a causal “develop first and clean up later” attitude. These approaches are no longer tenable, and concerted attention to the environment is now widely recognized to be a social and political necessity for China, both domestically and on the global world stage. China’s environmental challenges are compounded by its scarcity of many crucial resources, including water and usable agricultural land, its large population, and by the extremely large scale of its consumption, production, and manufacturing. Intensive use of limited amounts of arable land, increased urbanization and industrialization, substantial needs to irrigate and fertilize, combined with inadequate environmental management techniques and infrastructure, has resulted in problems such as air and water pollution, soil degradation, erosion, desertification, dust and sand storms, improper disposal of toxic wastes, and loss of biodiversity. Laws and regulations may be adequate but enforcement and corruption are continuing problems. The Chinese government welcomes public participation in addressing environmental problems which have captured popular attention, a move which some observers see as a possible catalyst for more enduring political reforms, the fostering of a vibrant civil society, and perhaps even democracy. The emergence of demands for a cleaner, safer environment and better environmental quality of life by a rising middle class, and the ability to achieve these goals due to greater wealth—a pattern seen in other developing regions—are examined in the case of China. Impacts of environmental issues on China’s foreign policy are also considered.

KeywordChina Environment Governance Environmental Activism Civil Society
Fulltext Access
Document TypeBook chapter
CollectionFaculty of Social Sciences
AffiliationUniversity of Macau,Macao
First Author AffilicationUniversity of Macau
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Zabielskis, Peter. Environmental Problems in China: Issues and Prospects. New York:Springer,2014:257-280.
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