The New, Green, Urbanization in China: Between Authoritarian Environmentalism and Decentralization

Geoffrey C. Chen, Charles Lees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Orthodox Western environmental practice and its associated discourse posits a positive causal link between levels of participation and effective environmental governance and regards participatory practices as a normatively desirable element in the building of a more sustainable society. However, recent discussions around theories of authoritarian environmentalism have challenged some basic assumptions of orthodox environmentalism. However, these discussions still lack sufficient discussion of real-world policy making and implementation and this article addresses that gap by exploring China’s policy of green urbanization, deemed a top priority by Chinese policy elites. We argue that the shifting strategies of governance associated with green urbanization are evidence of the emergence of a distinct paradigm of authoritarian environmentalism, characterized by a re-centralization of state power and a reduction of local autonomy, in environmental policy making in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-231
Number of pages20
JournalChinese Political Science Review
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2018


  • China
  • Environmentalism
  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Urbanization


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