Environmental Policies in China

Environmental Policies in China


Since the economic reforms of the 1970s were introduced in China, this country has undergone economic growth at a rapid rate. The manufacturing industries have expanded to the rural areas at a very fast rate and this had led to a tremendous growth of the gross output of this country by 70 percent and above. However, researches have shown that industrial pollutants’ level has increased intensively with industrial development. There is a significant amount of untreated contaminants in most areas of the entire ecosystem that are being released to the water sources and to the air (OECD, 2006). Chow (2010) showed that more than 20 million land hectares in China are irrigated using contaminated water. This has led to the presence of pollutant residues to the food products of this country. The manufacturing industries in China usually have extensive manufacturing that uses dangerous chemicals. Their waste water is usually released to the environment and this causes a significant level of chemical poisoning. This research paper will look at the Environmental Policies in China.

With the continued intensification of the released disposable products from the industries, the concerns of the public regarding their safety as well as food products’ quality has been growing. Over the last five years, the population of China that has voiced concerns in relation to the quality of the produced medicine and food has been growing at a significant rate (Xu, 1999). A major concern of the Chinese public is air pollution. This is because coal combustion releases sulfur dioxide which is harmful to the environment and this has remained a basic activity that a large percent of the population of China engages in. Over half of the coal of this country is used in the manufacturing industries by industrial boilers. This causes a significant level of the overall air pollution. Continued coal burning in the Chinese cities causes tremendous levels of water pollution due to rainwater contamination that result from the combination of mercury from the air and gases that are produced after burning coal and eventual formation of pollutant residues.

Kunmin (2007) noted that major sources of water are reducing due to extensive diversification of power generation and agricultural activities because major rivers have suffered extensive pollution due to high waste disposal levels. Thus, Chinese developments have captured the government’s attention in China. The government is now formulating environmental policies of governing the process that will address this issue.

Environmental policies in China

Since China introduced environmental legislation for the first time in 1979, the administration and the National People’s Congress have enacted numerous laws and rules. Several methods, standards and regulations have been developed with an aim of addressing different environmental issues which have captured the attention of non-governmental and governmental institutions and the public.

However, approaching environmental conservation in such a bureaucratic way has proven ineffective because more attention is concentrated on the upward information flow and authority is executed in a hierarchical way. Thus, the Chinese government declared that only development strategies that are sustainable should be executed as characterized by different environmental policies so that a significant balance can be realized between environmental sustainability and fast economic growth. Kunmin (2007) noted that the current environmental policies’ evolution in China can be traced back to 1972. This is when the UN Human Environment Conference was held with the initial steps aiming at implementing the current environmental conservation policies in China. As such, it led to the establishment of different agencies that work towards conserving the environment and major plans that are inclined towards managing wastes. Environmental legislations followed this later in 1979.

An environmental protection report that was publicized by the UN triggered a vital announcement by the government of China that it was willing to implement sustainable development strategies for guiding vital transformation in order to strike a balance in environmental conservation and economic growth. As such, the government declared the 10 environmental strategies that were aimed at boosting environmental conservation and national developments within 10 areas. The intention of these establishments was mainly to realize fast economic growth. However, initiatives were also aimed at treating Huai River which had suffered significant pollution.

By 1996, the inclination of the Chinese operations was towards controlling different environmental issues which were deteriorating by the day. At the same time, the 95 Year Plan for Total Emission Control and Green Project was implemented. The Chinese central government has handled several seminars that bring different players from different regions and levels together so that they can discuss issues that relate to the protection of the environment including major effects that the larger population in China suffers, counter measures and crucial resources that can promote sustainability of the environment (Xu, 1999).

Research has indicated that important actions and policies whose inclination is towards protecting the environment have been executed over the last 30 years. These include130 items and above including the 5 regulatory measures issued by the State Council of China from 1981 to 2005 (OECD, 2006). Kunmin (2007) noted that the environmental policies in China have always evolved from primary stages that basically concentrated on bureaucratic administration’s promotion in environmental protection to the stages that emphasize on the coordination of a balanced stability of environmental conservation and economic growth. The realization that China is capable of reversing the current trend where the concentration is mainly on economic growth without considering environmental conservation has enhanced these developments. This is an ethically sound stand because it has led to the exploitation of the China’s capacity in the adoption of quality adjustments in its industries. Cleaner and safer technology has been adopted to improve environmental conservation. This country’s concern has not been on the promotion of economic productivity. Instead, it has concentrated on the establishment of safer environments for the population and the world.

There were different challenges faced by the government in China at the beginning of the adoption of the Ten Strategic Environmental Policies. However, the country has continued to employ knowledge that is acquired from the experiences of the developed countries and its situation in devising relevant policies for enhancing sustainable development. As such, the concern of the government was not just about employing policies for conserving the environment in addressing different environmental problems. Instead, it aimed at adopting measures that had proven effective in the promotion of environmental management as well as promoting economic growth. For these developments to be realized effectively, the government of China adopted different guidelines and principles of governing the process in order to enhance environmental sustainability.

OECD (2006) noted that guidelines that governed environmental policies’ establishment in China included exploring control measures of the country in order to realize environmental protection. China realized that usually, pollution risks are due to the business enterprises’ failure to explore the potential environmental effects so that they can take appropriate remedial actions. As such, China came up with the “System on Environmental Impact Assessment Policy.” The intention of this system was to ensure that assessment report would be obtained from different projects to show the likely environmental impacts caused by their operations on the ecosystem. Further, the government has come up with a system that has Three Simultaneity guidelines. These guidelines demand that control measures ought to be developed, managed and executed simultaneously with the intended developments of the project in order to enhance environmental sustainability (Xu, 1999). This is a relevant policy in the promotion of environmental sustainability because it prevents the production of new pollutions.

This policy has been effective for small enterprises. However, its effect on larger corporations has been little because their tendency is to usually concentrate on fast economic development without considering the essence of environmental protection. Thus, this has resulted in the development of guidelines for environmental protection with an aim of allowing the uncontrolled pollution over a specific period. According to the System on Declaring and Permission for Environmental Pollutants with a Deadline, heavy pollutants will be allowed to continue releasing pollutants for a specific period. After this, they will adopt managed waste disposal. However, such policies are obviously unethical because they allow different pollutants to be released including the ones that can harm the lives of humans.

Another guideline that governs the establishment of environmental policies in China is the essence of generating adequate funds for supporting environmental protection. For quite a while, China has not established a specific budget for supporting the initiatives that are aimed at protecting the environment in the last 30 years. However, there is a principle that is now aimed at enhancing funds’ generation that will go into environmental protection. These funds will come from a levy system that has been instilled on different business enterprises which produce pollutants. Thus, a Polluter-Pay policy has been adopted where the manufacturing industries are required to pay on the basis of the pollutant amounts that they produce to the environment (Chow, 2010).

This has been a successful policy because it has enhanced the generation of more funds for controlling pollution. These funds go back to the investment on the policies that control pollution by the manufacturing industries. This policy has been successful particularly in the situations where firms borrow this fund to enhance their programs of controlling environmental pollution. However, the policy has proven unethical because it boosts huge companies’ wellbeing only while the small factories have been oppressed. These have been paying huge fees without benefiting from the funds. Despite being effective in terms of small manufacturers who prefer managing pollution levels on their own in order to avoid paying huge taxes, the policy has not been effective for the large manufacturing industries because they prefer paying huge taxes instead of managing their pollution levels. Consequently, large manufacturing firms have always intensified their pollutants and this increases the risk that they pose to the human life (Chow, 2010).

The establishment of environmental policy in China was equally aimed at providing guidelines for identifying different institutions and giving them the responsibility of promoting different environmental protection measures. Thus, the government in China has established different guidelines with an aim of governing Environmental Protection Agencies’ establishment. These are responsible for managing the environmental conservation processes. The government has employed the environmental protection law of 1989 which requires different levels’ agencies to take responsibility if they do not comply with environmental management’s legal requirements. These guidelines also require environmental protection to remain the top government’s priority while trying to adjust and its economic structures as well. This has proven to be an ethical policy because it has given different levels of government institutions the responsibility of protecting the environment. Thus, this has led to the integration of environmental conservation in the agenda of all government institutions with an aim of promoting sustainable development.

Kunmin (2007) noted that the establishment of environmental policies by the Chinese government was aimed at enhancing environmental protection and the integration of the use of the available resources in ensuring that environmental management remains successful. Although the government of China has used the principles of managing the environment whose discovery was made during ancient ecology, these principles have been combined with different strategies with an aim of enhancing participation by the public to ensure that all people are responsible for protecting the environment. In the developed nations, the principles have been successful and China got this idea from their success in these countries in order to improve environmental protection.

Promoting participation of the public is particularly vital because it enables the citizens to take the initiative of protecting their welfare. This addresses different intensifying concerns with the increasing number of the manufacturing companies. However, their application is unethical because they concentrate more on ecological agriculture and renewable energy’s management without considering the essence of promoting education and environmental awareness by the entire public.


The evidence that shows that the environmental policies in China have undergone major changes with aim of enhancing positive impact on the environment in order to ensure the success of environmental protection is sufficient. The public concerns have increased at a rapid rate with the increasing number of the manufacturing industries. This increase has led to constant reviews of the environmental policies in China and this has led to significant changes in the status of the policies from the national policies to a strategy for sustainable growth. The importance of enhancing sustainable development via the integration of environmental conservation and economic development has caused a major change in the conservation policy of this country to include different countermeasures that relate to environmental conservation and economic development.

A major development in the environmental policies in China has been achieved via the integrated efforts of different stakeholders in china and these have led to the formulation of agendas by government departments with the integration of proper planning, public participation and legislation which enhance environmental management effectively. These have been effective changes and therefore ethical because they have promoted successes in the reverse of different serious environmental degradations. The Total Emission Control Strategy of this country and the Green Project show that there are measurable targets in China. These will not only enhance the success of the economy of this nation but also addressing of different environmental problems that affect life. This has been an ethically sound development because its concern is not just about the improvement of the Chinese populace’s wellbeing, but also the global population’s wellbeing.


Chow, G. C. (2010). China’s Environmental Policy: A Critical Survey, CEPS Working Paper, 206: 1-12.

Kunmin, Z. et al (2007). Environmental Policies in China: Evolvement, Features and Evolution, Journal of Chinese Population, Resources and Environment, 17(2):1-7

OECD (2006). Environmental Compliance and Enforcement in China: An Assessment of Current Practices and Way Forward, journal of OEDC Program of Environmental Co-operation, 35(2):3-50

Xu, H. (1999). Environmental Policy and Rural Industrial Development in China, Human Ecology Review, 6(2): 72-80