China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The CCP’s Central Committee report published in 2017 after the 19th National Congress resolved to “promote green development, solve prominent environmental problems” and “work to develop a new model of modernization with humans developing in harmony with nature.” This is part of an ongoing initiative to refashion China from a country beset with pollution into the world’s green leader. President Xi Jinping has been vocal in his support of green energy, a green economy, and climate change prevention. The central government has put money behind this initiative by investing heavily in renewable energy, public transit, national parks, and environmental clean-up efforts.
As part of the effort to create a greener China, Xi has also visited numerous rural and ecologically sensitive areas to promote environmental protection and cleanup initiatives. This has, along with an increased awareness about pollution and the dangers that accompany it, led the growth of ecotourism, which is loosely defined here as travel to rural areas to immerse oneself in a more natural environment. This rise in ecotourism, however, is threatening the very spaces it is intended to save. Thus, this essay looks to how China’s central government is using communicative means to further their green political agenda in the form of propaganda, mass media coverage, and social media initiatives. To do so, I look to the city of Dali in Yunnan Province as a case study to examine how government promotion of the town has the potential to endanger the very spaces it purportedly seeks to save.