The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future

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Cornell University Press, 2005 - Business & Economics - 337 pages
5 Reviews

China's spectacular economic growth over the past two decades has dramatically depleted the country's natural resources and produced skyrocketing rates of pollution. Environmental degradation in China has also contributed to significant public health problems, mass migration, economic loss, and social unrest. In The River Runs Black, Elizabeth C. Economy examines China's growing environmental crisis and its implications for the country's future development.

Drawing on historical research, case studies, and interviews with officials, scholars, and activists in China, Economy traces the economic and political roots of China's environmental challenge and the evolution of the leadership's response. She argues that China's current approach to environmental protection mirrors the one embraced for economic development: devolving authority to local officials, opening the door to private actors, and inviting participation from the international community, while retaining only weak central control. The result has been a patchwork of environmental protection in which a few wealthy regions with strong leaders and international ties improve their local environments, while most of the country continues to deteriorate, sometimes suffering irrevocable damage. Economy compares China's response with the experience of other societies and sketches out several possible futures for the country.


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Review: The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future

User Review  - George - Goodreads

The writing tends to have an investigative tone and is not as statistical and technical as I would like it to be. It is still extremely fascinating and well-researched. Whether or not it is completely ... Read full review

Review: The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future

User Review  - Ariel White - Goodreads

THis is a good book about enviromentalism and environmental history in china, but extremely dry. Like that text book that you have to be assigned to read from in order to finish... aka... i wasn't ... Read full review


The Death of the Huai River
A Legacy of Exploitation
The Economic Explosion and Its Environmental Cost
The Challenge of Greening China
The New Politics of the Environment
The Devil at the Doorstep
Lessons from Abroad
Averting the Crisis

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About the author (2005)

Economy is the Fellow for China and Deputy Director of the Asia Studies Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. She directs Council projects on Ais and the environment and U.S.-China relations. She also co-chairs the Woodrow Wilson Center working group on China and the Environment.

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