Breathe Easy? Local Nuances of Authoritarian Environmentalism in China’s Battle Against Air Pollution

  • Anna L. Ahlers
  • Yongdong ShenEmail author


The heavy smog suffocating China’s cities is increasingly being perceived as a threat by both the population and the authorities. Consequently, political action aiming at regulating ambient air pollution has become increasingly comprehensive and rigid in recent year. Even measures limiting consumption and production seem to become acceptable as China is facing an airpocalypse. Does this suggest a genesis of real “authoritarian environmentalism” (AE) in the PRC? Taking this as a heuristic point of departure, we present findings from research on the local implementation of air pollution control measures in Hangzhou City. We offer a critical examination of the concept of AE and, in particular, of policy implementation strategies vis-à-vis the general public. Altogether, we argue for different emphases in a potential Chinese model of AE. In a context where outcomes are sought at any cost, we observe more complexity and nuances than are usually captured by the AE concept.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.School of Public AffairsZhejiang UniversityHangzhou, ZhejiangChina

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