China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet

My book, China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet, provides an innovative, evidence-based analysis of China’s exercise of environmental power at home and overseas. In it, my co-author Judith Shapiro and I argue that, counterintuitively, the strength of China’s brand of state-led environmentalism hinges not on a strong state, but on mechanisms that place state power in check.

To order a copy, US-based readers can use Amazon. Readers in other parts of the world may want to order from Book Depository. Polity is offering 20% off on the paperback version through January 31st, 2021. Complimentary review/desk copies are available to college instructors and reviewers. 

To read more about the book, you can check out The Economist’s review by David Rennie, our interview with Tianjie Ma in China Dialogue, and our op-ed in the South China Morning Post. The Journal of Political Ecology has published the first scholarly review of the book, written by Kofi Gunu at the University of Oxford. General information about the book is available on its info sheet, which we continuously update as new information becomes available.

To listen to a podcast on the subject, you can choose from The Sinica Podcast’s episode asking whether coercive environmentalism is the answer or Environment China’s special episode about the book.

To watch a video featuring the book, choose from our youtube playlist, which consists of recordings of past events at prestigious institutions such as the Wilson Center and the Fairbank Center!

The following authors have generously endorsed the book.

“A clearly written, comprehensive and timely volume, China Goes Green will help students, researchers, and the general public understand how to think about China’s ’authoritarian environmentalism’ — or more accurately, as Li and Shapiro argue — ‘environmental authoritarianism’ under Xi Jinping. A concise guide to a very important issue.”

Emily Yeh, University of Colorado Boulder

“China Goes Green brilliantly redefines our understanding of modern Chinese governance, dismantling a simplified portrait and illuminating the force, and the flaws, of the centralized approach that some officials call the ‘era of coercion.’ These insights are vital to understanding not only China’s environmental policy but also its handling of public-health emergencies and other issues of urgent global interest.”

Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China

“Faith in the capacity of western forms of governance to meet the rising challenges of the Anthropocene is waning. Many find in China’s brand of authoritarian environmentalism an appealing alternative. But can the appeal of this alternative withstand close scrutiny? Without denying or downplaying China’s environmental achievements, Li and Shapiro subject China’s environmental record to a systematic assessment. The result is a sobering account of what the authors describe as environmental authoritarianism in contrast to authoritarian environmentalism.”

Oran Young, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Li and Shapiro trenchantly explore environmentalism as an element of China’s deepening and globalizing authoritarianism, while also showing that a measure of citizen involvement, or ‘supervision by the masses,’ is required for such projects to succeed. Through nuanced case studies from urban air quality to reforestation, China Goes Green inspires us to focus on the relationship between sustainability and freedom – an endangered species in our increasingly illiberal world.”

Jesse Ribot, American University

“Even as someone well versed in this material, I learned a great deal from this impressive text. I would absolutely use it with my students.”

Matto Mildenberger, University of California, Santa Barbara

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