Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 519–536 | Cite as

The Reemerging Concern over Air Pollution in China: the Smog of the State’s Efforts to Guide Public Opinion

  • Xiaowen Zhang


In January 2012, Beijing began releasing air quality report of PM 2.5. The move has been credited as a major breakthrough in China’s environmental governance as it is argued that online environmental activists in China were the major driving force behind it. Since then, the issue of air pollution has reemerged as one of the hottest issues and a series of new policies addressing air pollution have been adopted. Facing a relatively new phenomenon (wumai) and heightened public concerns, to what extent is the state still capable of guiding the pubic perception and opinions about the issue? By analyzing the discourse of air pollution in People’s Daily and comparing it with public opinion survey data, the paper finds that the state’s ability to guide public opinion is rather limited, indicating that opportunities do exist for civil society to play a bigger role in China’s environmental governance.


Air pollution Public opinion Media 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Augustana CollegeRock IslandUSA

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