China’s Environmental Policy History and Today’s Challenges

Authors: Qiong Zhang*, Michigan State University
Topics: Environment, Political Geography
Keywords: Environmental Protection, Target Pyramid System, One Position Two Jobs China
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 28
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is a long myth that China’s environmental risk is due to the lack of attention from the central government and its administrators. However, the historical review conducted by this study on the evolution of environmental protection policies revealed different stories. This study chronologically summarized the environmental protection in China by dividing the entire history into six phases and found that numerous policies and regulations have been issued aiming at tackling the pollution problems. Meanwhile, it has been witnessed that both the center and local governments failed to stop the deterioration of environmental pollutions in China. This study attempted to analyze this dilemma by examining the pollution problems through the lenses of Target Pyramid System (Political Priority System). It also discussed the impact of a nationally applied authoritarian managerial strategy, called the “One Position Two Jobs” System, on the process of environmental protection in China. It found that increasing the priority of environmental protection in Target Pyramid System, freeing different voices in legislation, granting more freedom to the mass media, and promoting health education in entire society could greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the policy execution in local governments.

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