The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition
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The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, Second Edition

Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate

This thoroughly revised Handbook provides an assessment of the scope and content of environmental sociology, and sets out the intellectual and practical challenges posed by the urgent need for policy and action to address accelerating environmental change.
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Chapter 24: Environmental Reform in Modernizing China

Arthur P.J. Mol


Arthur P.J. Mol Introduction China’s unprecedented period of high economic growth transformed the nation from a developing country in the 1980s into a new global superpower in the twenty-first century. This development process has far-reaching consequences for every facet of its society. It is not just a state-directed economy turning into a successful market economic growth model, a growing importance of the service and industrial sectors vis-à-vis the agricultural sector, increasing integration in the global economy, and growing inequalities among the various regions within China. The transformation taking place in China has equally far-reaching impacts on the relations between different government levels; on the multiple relations between China and the outside world; on the cultural diversification that is brought in via (new) media and international exchanges; on the openness, transparency and accountability of political processes and leaders; and on the activities and organizational structures of civil society, to name but a few. Hence China is not just a transitional economy; it is a modernizing society in full transition. And this transitional society is faced with a rapidly changing environmental profile. Given rapidly increasing industrial production, expanding domestic consumption, exponential growth of privately owned cars and consumer mobility, rising infrastructure and construction, and growing industrial output, one should not be too surprised that China’s domestic environment is rapidly deteriorating. In addition, and not unlike what most industrialized nations did before, China is increasingly scouring the region and the world for natural resources to fulfil its growth needs. Wood from South-East...

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