Environmental Non-Government Organizations in China since the 1970s

  • Sheng Fei
Part of the Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History book series (PSWEH)


It is notable that during the past decades, Chinese Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs) have grown explosively, and continue to do so. According to openly available statistics, there were 2,768 registered ENGOs in 2005, with the number rising to 3,529 in 2008 and 7,881 by 2012.1 The changing figures clearly show how fast China’s environmental movement is expanding, while they also suggest increasing public anxiety about a deteriorating environment. While environmental issues are given great attention by the Chinese public and government, the nexus between ENGOs and government is still imbalanced. Although there is success in pushing many popular movements, Chinese ENGOs are shaped and sometimes constrained by Chinese political institutions and traditional culture. On the one hand, the public regards government as the critical factor in environmental protection, while ENGOs are also themselves catalysts for change. On the other hand, most Chinese ENGOs are neither independent of state power nor tightly connected to genuine grass-roots movements. Consequently, while ENGOs are usually not hesitant to expose environmental problems or to criticize the negligent government, they also abstain from radical confrontation with government and are cautious about joining in street demonstrations.


Civil Society Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Initial Public Offering Environmental Impact Assessment Environmental Governance 
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