Greening of the Chinese mind: Environmentalism with Chinese characteristics
Due to its enormous population, spectacular economic growth, and severe environmental degradation, China's environmental impact on the country and the world is difficult to assess. Knowledge of the environmental awareness and the growth of the environmental movement in China are critical to the understanding of the country's environmental future. Firstly, this paper examines the environmental awareness of Chinese people based upon two major surveys conducted in 1998. The findings contributed to our understanding of the environmental awareness of people in the following aspects: environmental literacy, prioritization of environmental problems, environmental governance, environmental ethics, and participation in environmental protection campaigns. Secondly, the paper scrutinizes the emergence of green NGOs in China in the 1990s. Chinese green NGOs possessed particular “Chinese characteristics” which distinguished them from those in the West. To date, the Chinese government is willing to allow more political space for citizen participation in environmental protection. Increasingly, green NGOs gained support not only from international communities but also from Chinese citizens who value a clean environment. Finally, the paper argues that the emergence of green NGOs offers a breakthrough in the conventional “government-reliance” attitude towards environmental protection. If these eco-activists can target non-sensitive issues, they may make profound contributions in enhancing environmental policy implementation.