Environmental NGOs in China

Environmental NGOs (ENGOs) have taken the place in interactions with political conditions and have exercised opportunities offered by the media, the Internet and international NGOs. Due to this, ENGOs can serve as both sites and agents of democratic social change in China.

ENGOs are becoming increasingly visible players in China’s environmental politics. They have the ability to launch public debates and media campaigns about environmental issues, thus introducing a new environmental discourse into the public sphere. The development of ENGOs also contributes to the larger current of civil society development in China. However, Chinese ENGOs continue to face serious challenges from the political field. At the same time, their intertwined relationships with other fields may put some limits on the power of the political field by adding to the difficulty and complexity of political control.

It is also argued that the rise of a market economy has contributed to the separation between state and society, thus opening new spaces for social organizations. The state, on its part, has decentralized, resulting in the loosening of state control and the expansion of civil society. This is an opportunity for ENGOs to act and spread their influence even more as well as promote an environmental discourse of democratic values along with more citizen participation in China.

World wide the media are generally sympathetic and supportive of environmental movements. Thus the alliance between the media and ENGOs in China may well reflect an international pattern, indicating the news-making value of environmental issues. Also, Chinese ENGOs are in a symbiotic relationship with International Non-Government Organizations (INGOs). The latter generally have global agendas and often form partnerships with local NGOs. They build such partnerships by providing material and non-material support, while local NGOs gain funding, prestige, expertise and media coverage. For Chinese ENGOs, INGOs provide expertise and prestige by running conferences, workshops, seminars, lectures and the like so they are of great benefit for promoting democratic social change in China.

Overall, Chinese environmental NGOs may function as both sites and agents of political change. ENGOs have the ability to introduce a new environmental discourse into the public sphere and can contribute to the larger current of civil society development in China. The above-mentioned suggestions describe the complex and nuanced relations and the possibilities of creative agency in an increasingly pluralistic society Chinese society.

This article can be useful for learning how China’s state and market penetrate other social fields and how those other fields, to achieve their own strategic goals, may sometimes rely on, collaborate with, negotiate and challenge market or state power. In a nation that is increasingly facing pressure for safe environment actions from both at home and abroad, China will need to think about how it will govern its environment and foster it to a level that will bring safe and clean environments for its people. With the use of ENGOs, this can be achieved and can also pave the way for developing democratic measures at the local levels, which many scholars believe will be the best route for China to take.

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