China-Based Air Pollution and Epistemic Community Building in the Northeast Asian Region
New technologies are driven principally by need, and paramount among such needs are those which are framed by environmental disasters. In Northeast Asia, trade winds blow west to east, so anything airborne in China remains airborne in some fashion in Korea, Japan, parts of Russia, and beyond. Thus, the increase of Chinese air pollution as well as the yellow sand/dust which exacerbates the transfer of pollutants is both a domestic and international concern. This paper assesses the effects of the East Asian Acid Deposition Monitoring Network (EANET) to mitigate pollution blowing out of mainland China, focusing especially on the creation and fostering of an epistemic community of scientists and engineers. All of the affected countries are high-technology producers, and the cross-national connections which are fostered through R&D efforts are a crucial complement to multilateral agreements such as EANET. The primary research questions to be considered, thus, are as follows: How are scientists and researchers across the region constrained in their efforts to address the increasingly devastating effects of China-based air pollution? To what extent are domestic political factors thwarting efforts to establish an epistemic community? At the same time, and to provide a truly complete picture of international R&D beyond scientist and researcher connections, what policies – in China, in neighboring countries, and across countries in the region – will incentivize R&D to address China-based air pollution? This study employs a mixed methods approach to answer these questions, integrating patent data, publication data, and interview-based data which draws upon the experiences of scientists and researchers, a group that has typically been considered tangential to institutions of international relations related to the environment.
KeywordsTransboundary pollution EANET Environmental disaster technologies China Cross-border disaster governance
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