Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Green Asia: China

Beijing signaled its official commitment to sustainable development in 1992 after the Rio Earth Summit. However, the Green movement in China is a grassroots phenomenon. Chinese NGOs also play a pivotal role in the proliferation of Green. As reported in Yale Global: "[Chinese NGOs] are spearheading a quiet grassroots environmental movement engaged in consciousness-raising, problem-solving, and even advocacy." Environmental reporting is now ubiquitous in China. And the language of Green is now part of the Chinese vocabulary. Even Greenpeace now has an office in Beijing.

In China sustainable development is grounded in the local context which includes not only unique ecological challenges but profound philosophical traditions such as Buddhism and Taoism. "These traditions stress the harmony between humans and nature, reject human-centered approaches to the environment, and admonish humility before nature."

The growth of environmentalism in China can be attributed to international trade and globalization. Yale Global characterizes it this way: "In the 1990s, a host of domestic and international events integrated China further into the world community, widening domestic political spaces and boosting environmentalism. A growing awareness of China's grave environmental problems...has increased China's connections to the world."

The growth of China as a capitalist power has radically reduced poverty and contributed to liberalization and democratization. It has also directly benefited the Chinese Green movement. But, in China, environmentalism also serves as a protective umbrella capable of promoting democratic practices and values.

Next: Green Asia Part 2: Japan

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