- The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Paul Martin, Li Zhiping, Qin Tianbao, Anel Du Plessis, Yves Le Bouthillier and Angela Williams
Chapter 4: Constitutionalism and the Environment: The Evolution of Environmental Governance in China’s Socialist Market Economy
Kishan Khoday1 4.1 INTRODUCTION: ECOLOGICAL CHANGE AND CONSTITUTIONALISM The launch of China’s new Socialist Market Economy policy in 1992 turned out to be a historic event for China and the world. The dramatic shift from a centrally planned, inward-looking state to a globally expansive market-based super power unleashed a new era of development. It has opened up an expanded role for the private sector and set the stage for China’s re-emergence at the center of the world economy (Hart-Landsberg and Burkett, 2005, p. 52). Almost twenty years later, China stands as the world’s second-largest economy with annual per capita GDP nearing US$7,000 and a foreign currency reserve upwards of US$2 trillion, the world’s largest. In the coming decades China is also expected to surpass the US to become the world’s largest economy, with the implications of China’s rise going well beyond the economic realm and already “opening the way for a multi-polar era in world politics” (Drezner, 2007, p. 1). China’s growth rate already accounts for almost 20% of world GDP growth, second only to the US contribution. It is also the world’s leading destination for foreign direct investment (WEF, 2006). Along with its increasingly important role as a manufacturing base for the world, China has also become a major consumer, in terms of materials needed for the manufacturing of export goods to the world and personal consumption by a burgeoning middle class. China now consumes 26% of the world’s crude steel, 32% of the rice, 37%...
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