Pollution Law Enforcement in China

Understanding national and regional variation

Authored by: Benjamin van Rooij , Zhu Qiaoqiao , Li Na , Wang Qiliang , Zhang Xuehua

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Policy in China

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138831117
eBook ISBN: 9781315736761
Adobe ISBN:


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Since 1978, China has gradually built an increasingly comprehensive body of laws and regulations to prevent and control industrial pollution. Such laws, if well implemented, could well help curb the country's immense negative economic and health effects of its air, water, solid waste, noise and ocean pollution (Van Rooij 2006b). In practice, enforcement, executed either by so-called environmental protection bureaus (EPBs) or local governments has not been optimal. There is widespread recognition in the existing literature that enforcement of pollution law in China has been challenging (i.e. Ma and Ortolano 2000; Van Rooij 2002; Van Rooij 2006a; Tilt 2007; Lo et al. 2009; Van Rooij and Lo 2010; He et al. 2012; Lo et al. 2012; Ran 2013; Kostka 2013; Kostka and Mol 2013; He et al. 2014). Most studies portray an array of structural problems that undermine enforcement in practice (for an overview see Van Rooij and Lo 2010). These include a lack of regulatory independence originating in the de facto decentralized structure, lack of enforcement capacity with administrative agencies lacking the money, staff, technical skills and equipment to match the complexity and scale of the pollution violations, resistance by polluting firms, lack of central level commitment and successful incentive structures.

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