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Title: Leveraging Private Interests for the Public Good: Foreign Actors and Non-Institutionalized Citizen Activism In China's Environmental Governance
Authors: Jo, Caroline
Advisors: Mauzerall, Denies
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2013
Abstract: China’s pollution is not confined to its borders. China’s air pollution and soil contamination have regional and international ramifications. Foreign stakeholders in China’s pollution problem, however, have been unable to use existing institutions to influence China’s environmental governance. This thesis explores why foreign actors can and should engage with Chinese citizens to clean up China’s environment. While existing literature has largely dismissed the possibility of an environmental movement in China, this thesis identifies “non-institutionalized citizen activism” (NICA), whereby contentious citizen acts - albeit localized and fragmented - are able to improve environmental governance. The contemporary case studies used in this thesis demonstrate that NICA not only can address lackluster environmental enforcement at the local level, but also can force the Chinese central government to bring about structural changes that prioritize the environment. By analyzing existing literature on transnational human rights activism and the ‘Boomerang Pattern’ proposed by Keck and Sikkink (1998), this thesis explores how foreign actors can engage with Chinese NICA. Information exchange is found to be at the crux of effective transnational environmental activism; its two pillars, pollution monitoring and “translation,” are both essential to NICA success. This thesis concludes that foreign actors can and should engage with Chinese citizens in non-institutionalized citizen activism. Such transnational environmental activism is an essential complement to existing international environmental institutions. While existing efforts have been effective at sharing scientific and technological know-how, leveraging domestic pressures from Chinese citizens who increasingly demand clean air, clean water and clean soil will be crucial to cleaning up China’s pollution.
Extent: 147 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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