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The Protean Environmental State in Dongguan: Reconceptualising the local state and ecological development in China

Flynn, Andrew ORCID: and Yu, Li ORCID: 2020. The Protean Environmental State in Dongguan: Reconceptualising the local state and ecological development in China. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 38 (3) , pp. 443-463. 10.1177/2399654419884331

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How China copes with the deep-rooted challenges of improving its environmental quality raises questions about how economic and environmental tensions arise, whether they can be reconciled, and if so, how that might be achieved. In this paper, we critically examine evolving environmental governance challenges at the city level since it is here that much public policy delivery takes place. In major urban areas, problems of poor waste management, and air and water pollution have been experienced by citizens for some time. What is novel is that municipal governments now have some capacity to act to improve local environmental conditions. Moreover, municipal governments are being assisted, to some extent, in their rethinking of environment–economy relations by a central government policy agenda that is moving from an overwhelming preoccupation with development to taking on board welfare and environmental concerns. This is demanding a reconceptualisation of the local state from being one that is almost wholly development oriented to one that recognises environmental imperatives. The paper outlines key perspectives on the local state, particularly the ideas of a developmental, entrepreneurial and green state. It draws on these accounts to produce a more nuanced analysis of the multi-faceted nature of environmental governance. We call this the Protean Environmental State. To put these debates into a local context we analyse how one early industrialising city, Dongguan, is facing up to its polluted environment and seeking to steer its way towards a new, more ecologically friendly development pathway.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Additional Information: Released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND)
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 2399-6544
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 October 2019
Date of Acceptance: 2 October 2019
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 14:34

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