Ecological perspectives on sustainability in China

Kin Chi LAU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review


The chapter examines issues of air pollution and water diversion. The author argues that it is necessary to take subaltern and ecological perspectives in challenging statist, elitist and anthropocentric discourses and practices in relation to the question of sustainability in China. The chapter updates data and discusses air pollution and lung cancers in China, and the South-to-North water diversion project. It argues that the modernization paradigm that China pursues has been characteristically privileging industry over agriculture, urban over rural, and middle class over subaltern, hence growth statistics and resource emphases are all geared to such a development paradigm. “Modernization” itself is not questioned, and it justifies the “price” that need to be paid. In the modernization discourse in China, “de-growth” is almost unthinkable. It concludes that it is necessary to articulate socio-economic justice with ecological justice and consider the cultural dimensions of Chinese society and political economy as part and parcel of the development paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Critical Political Economy and Public Policy
EditorsChristoph SCHERRER, Ana GARCIA, Joscha WULLWEBER
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781800373785
ISBN (Print)9781800373778
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2023


  • China
  • Development
  • Modernization
  • Rural
  • Ecology
  • Sustainability


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