China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The deteriorating environment has become an increasingly serious challenge to China’s sustainable development and social stability. Against this backdrop, some studies highlight that the state is opening up space for public participation by ordinary citizens and civil society groups, whereas other studies stress the limits of environmental pluralism and underscore the imperious role of the state in environmental governance. This panel engages with this debate by identifying its critical patterns and evolving trends in the past decade or so. More broadly, this engagement helps deepen discussions on competing theories and paradigms of Chinese politics. The panel brings together four studies on environmental governance by junior, mid-career, and senior scholars from three continents—Asia, Europe, and North America. The first two papers examine voices from society, while the latter two focus on the role of the state. John Chung-En Liu (Occidental College) explores China's public opinion on climate change over time, drawing on a nationally representative survey data. Through a detailed case study, Jian Lu (Tsinghua University) and H. Christoph Steinhardt (University of Vienna) scrutinize the emergence of a nationwide coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations engaged in waste-related matters. Yao Li (Harvard University) examines how authorities can overcome massive and forceful resistance against waste facilities and ensure the implementation of garbage disposal policies. Finally, Anna L. Ahlers (University of Oslo) and Yongdong Shen (Zhejiang University) study the history of campaign-style ad-hoc air pollution regulation in China, comparing governance procedures in a series of mega events.