Waste management and environmentalism in China
Waste management and environmentalism in China

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Waste management and environmentalism in China

2.2 Environmental pressure groups

Environmental groups are a fairly new phenomenon in China. The first group, ‘Friends of Nature’, was formed in 1994, and protested against the loss of biodiversity. It worked with the Chinese media, and by means of education campaigns began to increase the Chinese people’s awareness of environmental issues. Championing biodiversity was a relatively safe topic as it did not directly criticise government and was therefore tolerated. But by the late 1990s, Chinese environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) began to be more assertive (Geall, 2013). A successful and energetic lawyer, Wang Canfa, established the Centre for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims. This organisation prosecuted environmental pollution cases on behalf of pollution victims and represented a more confrontational style in contesting environmental degradation.

In 2015, there were over 700 registered environmental groups in China (The Guardian, 2015). These are growing in number and in influence, informing and educating widely on environmental issues. The Chinese Government, the judiciary, the media, the business sector and the fast-expanding Chinese middle class are increasingly expressing concern about the environmental impacts of rapid growth, in particular the energy-inefficient and dirty processes being used. Moreover, there is an emerging awareness that the environmental consequences of rapid economic growth could actually undermine the sustainability of the phenomenal development already achieved.

Described image
Figure 19 Citizen pollution protest in China

The bigger Chinese environmental NGOs are listened to by central government. Indeed, Chinese environmental groups work closely with the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) to propagate their message, and the ministry relies on them for information. However, their relationship with local government and regional officials is more ambivalent and it is this area they are seeking to improve. One way Chinese environmental groups are attempting to do this is by holding weekly or monthly seminars to which regional journalists are invited. The seminars address a particular environmental issue, are highly informative, and are presented with campaigning zeal. The journalists then write articles and features on the environmental issue, thereby educating the local citizens. The citizens in turn come to expect their local officials to act to safeguard their environment.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371