We will write a custom Essay on China’s Economy and Environmental Sustainability specifically for you
301 certified writers online
In the article, Jiang and Zheng (2017) discuss the impact of economic growth on pollution in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) Urban Agglomeration in China. The authors review previous research on the topic, as well as on the experiences of other countries. The critical debate raised by Jiang and Zheng (2017) is that of economic development versus environmental sustainability. The present paper will seek to identify the problem the authors are addressing and the position against which they are contending, as well as to evaluate the authors’ solution to the problem.
The critical problem that the authors are attempting to address in the article is the effect of economic growth on pollution. The authors reflect on the impact of foreign trade on environmental sustainability in China, stating that “China’s process of economic growth propelled by foreign trade has been relying too much on growing inputs provided by various environmental service” (Jiang & Zheng, 2017, p. 2625). The conflict between economic development and pollution has become a growing concern of a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Japan. With the rise of production caused by the improvement of foreign trade conditions, the country’s environmental resources are being depleted. In addition, large-scale manufacturing facilities increase the emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. In many developed countries, the governments sought to take action on the issue by establishing local and national regulations, affecting both domestic and foreign companies. In China, the situation has been similar, and local authorities sought to alleviate the environmental impact of economic development, achieving no substantial success to this day.
The authors argue against the common perception that economic development and foreign trade were ultimately beneficial for China, relying on both economic and environmental evidence. For example, the results of the study show that foreign trade was positively linked to pollution emission in the target area of the YRD (Jiang & Zheng, 2017). However, the authors also provide information regarding the economic impact of high pollution emissions in support of their argument. Specifically, Jiang and Zheng (2017) consider the effect of pollution increase on the total annual income in China, noting that losses due to undesirable environmental consequences account for 8-10% of the country’s annual income. Therefore, the authors show that not only do foreign trade and economic development affect the country’s environmental sustainability, they also result in long-term costs that impair its economic growth.
As part of their exploration of the issue, the authors acknowledge that governmental regulations are an essential part of reducing the negative impact of foreign trade and economic development on the environment. Jiang and Zheng (2017) review the approach used by some developed countries, stating that “the country may desire higher environmental standards, more stringent regulations, and better enforcement by the government, which can all lead to better environmental outcomes” (p. 2626). The researchers reveal that the current approach used by the Chinese government is highly localized, albeit interdependent.
Although such a system allows local governments to follow the example of other regions in developing environmental protection regulation, it also halts the improvement of laws and thus produces minimal positive outcomes. The primary solution proposed by the authors is a joint effort of the local governments in the target region in reducing pollution and protecting the environment. However, the researchers also acknowledge several issues that must be addressed as part of the solution. The first problem is the use of short-term policies to achieve maximum effect during a particular official’s term. Moreover, there is a lack of incentive for local officials to take action for environmental protection, as economic growth is prioritized over sustainability. Finally, there is an inconsistency between cities and localities with regards to the current regulations. Overall, although the authors acknowledge that a joint effort is required to reduce pollution in the area, they do not provide a comprehensive strategy for addressing all of the problematic aspects of the current approach to environmental governance.
To produce a viable, long-term solution, it would be necessary for China to act on a national level. First of all, it would be crucial to prioritize environmental sustainability by producing national goals for reducing air pollution and providing incentives to local officials for their help in achieving these goals in their regions. Secondly, it would be essential to ensure that areas of increased foreign trade activity, such as the YRD Urban Agglomeration, are governed by a single set of environmental regulations. This would help to ensure consistency and coherency of environmental protection actions across localities in the area. Lastly, the government should also seek to establish and support a separate regulatory body tasked with developing and updating ecological protection laws and standards on a regular basis. Using the example of developed countries that managed to reduce pollution levels, China would be able to address the problem without cutting the pace of its economic growth.
All in all, the authors provide a thorough exploration of the problem of environmental protection in China and the adverse effect of economic development on it. The researchers establish an apparent cause and effect relationship between the government’s approach and ecological problems experienced by specific regions in the country. However, the solution presented by the authors lacks details and could be improved if all the aspects of China’s current environmental governance approach were taken into account.
Jiang, Y., & Zheng, J. (2017). Economic growth or environmental sustainability? Drivers of pollution in the Yangtze River Delta Urban Agglomeration in China. Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, 53(11), 2625-2643.