The search for sustainable legitimacy

Wang, Alex (2013). The search for sustainable legitimacy: environmental law and bureaucracy in China. Harvard Environmental Law Review, 9 May, 365-440. (“UCLA Public Law & Legal Theory Series”).

During China’s 11th five-year plan (2006-11), bureaucrats began to take substantial actions on environmental protection, making major investments in pollution control infrastructure andBeijing_photo forcing the shutdown of thousands of outdated facilities and  production lines. This was not accomplished through meaningful reform of a notoriously weak  environmental law regime. Rather, Chinese authorities turned to cadre evaluation — the system for top-down bureaucratic personnel assessments — to set high-priority, quantitative environmental targets  designed to mobilize governors, mayors, and state-owned enterprise leaders in every corner of China’s massive bureaucracy.

While conventional analysis has primarily viewed this effort through the lens of environmental  protection, this article argues that “environmental cadre evaluation” is better understood as something more fundamental. Chinese authorities have embraced environmental cadre evaluation as a tool for limiting risks to the party-state’s hold on power, using environmental protection in an unexpected way to deliver economic growth and social stability. Environmental objectives have been elevated, but primarily to the extent they support these other values as well.

But implementation problems inherent to this top-down approach abound. Local agents falsify   information and shut down pollution control equipment. Closed factories are secretly reopened. These problems create an imperative for reform. Of the initiatives already under way, governance reforms that strengthen public supervision have particular advantages forresolving institutional pathologies that limit the effectiveness of China’s environmental efforts.



Cite this blog post
Monique Abud (2014, March 20). The search for sustainable legitimacy. URBACHINA. Retrieved February 28, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/v2qa

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

More Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.