Governing China’s Coal Challenge: Changing Public Policy, Debate and Advocacy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Environmental Communication, 2018, 12 (5), pp. 575 - 588
Issue Date:
2018-07-04
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© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper examines the nexus of coal–government–society relations in present-day China using a governmentality approach to explore the interactions between policy change, “crisis” management and social action. It outlines the noticeable shift in government rationalities and communication regarding the coal industry in recent years. It then frames this shift within the broader context of government–society relations focusing on public debate regarding the calamitous nature of China’s air pollution and its filtering via the censorship apparatus of the Communist Party-state. Finally, it shows how problems relating to coal extraction and combustion have been taken up at the level of grass-roots protest and philanthropic advocacy. An examination of such activism illustrates the crucial role played by digital media networks in sparking debate on coal-related environmental and health crises, and in pushing an authoritarian government to change national coal and other policies in order to maintain social and political stability.
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