Public Participation in Environmental Enforcement…with Chinese Characteristics?: A Comparative Assessment of China’s Environmental Complaint Mechanism

Over the past years, it has become clear that China’s rapid economic development has come at a significant environmental cost. China has responded with an ambitious law reform program that has resulted in a multitude of major environmental laws or revisions over the past two decades and significantly increased resources spent on addressing environmental problems. However, public concerns about environmental issues have continued to be flashpoints for public unrest and violent clashes with public authorities. As a result, serious tensions remain between efforts to encourage public participation, especially through channels that allow for peaceful expression of dissent, and contrary official reactions that seek to tighten control over civil society and restrict environmental activism.