Handbook of Welfare in China
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Handbook of Welfare in China

Edited by Beatriz Carrillo, Johanna Hood and Paul Kadetz

The Handbook is a timely compilation dedicated to exploring a rare diversity of perspectives and content on the development, successes, reforms and challenges within China’s contemporary welfare system. It showcases an extensive introduction and 20 original chapters by leading and emerging area specialists who explore a century of welfare provision from the Nationalist era, up to and concentrating on economic reform and marketisation (1978 to the present). Organised around five key concerns (social security and welfare; emerging issues and actors; gaps; future challenges) chapters draw on original case-based research from diverse disciplines and perspectives, engage existing literature and further key debates.
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Chapter 18: Climate, environment and State–society relations in the mobilisation for welfare in China

Ole Bruun


After 30 years of unbridled economic growth China is now facing tremendous challenges from urban air pollution, toxic emissions from industry and power plants, pollution of waterways and compromised foodstuff safety. Those aspects of environmental degradation most directly impacting human welfare have seen the strongest outcry from the public, resulting in both organised civil society activity and endless spontaneous protests. Today, environmental and food safety may constitute the most important threats to political stability. This chapter will outline relevant data on welfare issues relating to climate and environment in the broadest sense, and discuss State and media responses, new legislation, public opinion and the role of civil society organising. The chapter argues that China has come to an important juncture in its striving towards sustainable development, and that real change in environmental practices is questionable without simultaneous political change and a greater space for non-State actors. However, State–society relations remain ambiguous, hampering those ‘social forces’ that may contribute efficiently to reaching an environmental turning point, as well as hampering general public mobilisation for substantial improvements in environmental welfare. Finally, the chapter frames China’s present environmental health issues in a broader historical perspective, contending that the country is currently in a transitional state between inherent and modern perspectives on the environment, and that we must look beyond the shifting politico-economic arrangements in the contemporary era to appreciate the long-term processes in State–society–environment relations.

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