The River Runs Black

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 7/1/2010
  • Publisher: Cornell Univ Pr

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China's spectacular economic growth over the past two decades has dramatically depleted the country's natural resources and produced skyrocketing rates of pollution. Environmental degradation in China has also contributed to significant public health problems, mass migration, economic loss, and social unrest. In The River Runs Black, Elizabeth C. Economy examines China's growing environmental crisis and its implications for the country's future development.Drawing on historical research, case studies, and interviews with officials, scholars, and activists in China, Economy traces the economic and political roots of China's environmental challenge and the evolution of the leadership's response. She argues that China's current approach to environmental protection mirrors the one embraced for economic development: devolving authority to local officials, opening the door to private actors, and inviting participation from the international community, while retaining only weak central control. The result has been a patchwork of environmental protection in which a few wealthy regions with strong leaders and international ties improve their local environments, while most of the country continues to deteriorate, sometimes suffering irrevocable damage. Economy compares China's response with the experience of other societies and sketches out several possible futures for the country.

Author Biography

Elizabeth C. Economy is C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director, Asia Studies, at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is coeditor of China Joins the World: Progress and Prospects and The Internationalization of Environmental Protection. She has published articles and opinion pieces in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the International Herald Tribune, among others. She consults regularly for the U.S. government on issues related to China and the environment and is a frequent television and radio commentator on U.S.-China relations.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
The Death of the Huai Riverp. 1
A Legacy of Exploitationp. 27
The Economic Explosion and Its Environmental Costp. 59
The Challenge of Greening Chinap. 95
The New Politics of the Environmentp. 135
The Devil at the Doorstepp. 183
Lessons from Abroadp. 237
Averting the Crisisp. 275
Notesp. 295
Indexp. 353
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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