The way nation-states address problems of biodiversity loss is likely to be strongly influenced by the political, economic, and social challenges they have encountered historically. These challenges may create opportunities to improve national security, stability, and development, but they may also cause environmental crises. In this chapter we focus on some of the patterns characterizing major eras of human-environmental interactions in China and Taiwan. The chapter begins with a presentation of traditional orientations to nature and conservation, exploring elite, popular religious, and cultural minority perspectives. Then the chapter briefly considers the style and approach toward the environment of the imperial, dynastic system, beginning in 221 BC with the unification of China under the Qin Dynasty. The core of the chapter is a brief introduction to the environmental history of China and Taiwan in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The periodization is conventional: first, a discussion of Republican and increasingly capitalist China from the end of the Qing Dynasty to the establishment of communist power on mainland China in 1949; second, socialist and autarkic China under Mao Zedong, from 1949 to 1976; third, the economic, marketizing reforms initiated by Deng Hsiaoping in China beginning in 1978 and continuing to the present; and finally, change in Taiwan as it underwent rapid economic development, political liberalization, and then democratization. The chapter concludes with an examination of public opinion about environmental conservation in China and Taiwan. TRADITIONAL ORIENTATIONS TOWARD NATURE AND CONSERVATION Elite Orientations Over several millennia, Chinese intellectuals developed and revised an...
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