China’s approach to global fisheries: power in the governance of anti-illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Environmental Politics, 2022
Issue Date:
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As a significant actor in global governance, China has become increasingly active in addressing global environmental challenges. However, Chinese fishing practices do not conform with its policies. How do we understand China’s apparently incoherent stance? Using the case of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing governance, we explore why China shifted its approach from reluctance to engagement while still allowing the Chinese fleet’s IUU fishing activities to some extent. We find that China safeguards its self-interest by shaping domestic and international rules on anti-IUU fishing while pursuing means of legitimising its actions and intangible aspects of power in the oceans. Our findings have far-reaching implications. First, China’s notion of environmental responsibility is likely to remain within the scope of its interests and what China can control. Second, China’s global environmental approach can be understood as the pursuit of intangible aspects of great power status in addition to its tangible interests.
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