Authoritarian environmentalism and environmental regulation enforcement

A case study of medical waste crime in northwestern China

Authored by: KuoRay Mao , Yiliang Zhu , Zhong Zhao , Yan Shan

Routledge International Handbook of Green Criminology

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138633803
eBook ISBN: 9781315207094
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter offers one of the first studies to examine critically the connection between deficiencies in China’s regulatory apparatus and the criminality associated with illegal dumping and trading of medical waste—specifically as it pertains to waste dumping in rural northwestern China. The authors begin with a brief review of green criminology’s approach to waste crime and summarise the literature on top-down environmental regulation enforcement in China. Next, they describe the development of the medical waste regulation framework and highlight the current obstacles to enforcement in China. The chapter then introduces a case study to illustrate how institutional incentives in the job performance evaluation system of bureaucrats resulted in the under-enforcement of medical waste regulations at the level of rural governance. Their chapter concludes by suggesting that to study environmental offenses in China, green criminologists must examine how the institutional practices of the fragmented bureaucracy shape the economic, political, and social contexts that have structured the complexity of environmental regulation enforcement in this illiberal and restrictive society.

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