China Policy Institute: Analysis

Adapting to Climate Change in Rural China

Written by Sarah Rogers.

While China’s climate change mitigation efforts (its pilot emissions trading schemes and investment in renewable energy) are widely discussed, its adaptation efforts receive far less attention. Yet China is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and will need to take action to manage these risks. Some of the observed and projected impacts as outlined in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group II) are the exacerbation of water scarcity in North China, changes to crop productivity, increased flood risk, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and changes in the geographical distribution of vector-borne diseases. Glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau are retreating rapidly, while sea-level rise threatens Shanghai’s drinking water. China’s agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable as it faces a range of climate change impacts compounded by existing environmental (and social) problems. In managing the impacts of climate change on agriculture to ensure food security and to protect the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers, China faces two key challenges. Continue reading “Adapting to Climate Change in Rural China”

The Global Drain: Why China’s Water Pollution Crisis should matter to the Rest of the World

Written by Matthew Currell.

Last year, Chinese and international media reported that more than 80% of shallow groundwater wells in areas of northern China were polluted. This followed a previous national survey in 2013, which estimated that more than half of the nation’s groundwater aquifers were contaminated. Groundwater pollution is one of the most serious environmental health issues in China, as about two-thirds of cities rely on it for some or all of their drinking water. It is now widely acknowledged that chronic exposure to water pollution has contributed to the emergence of hundreds of cancer villages throughout China. Continue reading “The Global Drain: Why China’s Water Pollution Crisis should matter to the Rest of the World”

Environmental History in China

Written by Han Zhaoqing.

The majority of Chinese scholars agree that environmental history first emerged as a distinct subfield of history in the United States in the early 1970s. The Chinese term “环境史 (environmental history)” was directly translated from English. The appearance and development of environmental history in China can be taken as a result of increasing governmental and public awareness of the environmental crisis we are facing today. Continue reading “Environmental History in China”

Introduction to Special Issue on China and the Environment

Written by Martin Thorley.

The question of China’s natural environment has the potential to become the country’s defining issue over the next years and decades. Previously dismissed as a non-mainstream concern, the rapid deterioration of the environment has forced the issue to the top table and it is now considered a topic that has bearing on questions surrounding economic development and even the Chinese model of governance. Over the course of this week, contributors will explore the environment in China from a number of different standpoints.

Han Zhaoqing offers background by considering the evolution of environmental history in China as a subject. Matthew Currell offers a closer look at China’s groundwater woes, suggesting that the issue has ramifications that go far beyond China’s borders. Sarah Rogers offers us insight from her work on the Loess Plateau, investigating adaption strategies in rural regions in the face of climate change. Kevin Deluca and Elizabeth Brunner consider the arena of social media in terms of environmental protests. They extrapolate their findings to ask pertinent questions of the relationship between activism and the online sphere. Judith Shapiro offers a timely review of the state of ENGOs given the changing environment in which they operate. And finally, Xinsheng Liu and Ren Mu assess changing public attitudes toward the environment in China and ask what this means for the future.

We hope that you enjoy this special issue of CPI: Analysis. You can follow us on twitter or facebook to keep up to date with news from CPI: Analysis.


Martin Thorley is a PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham and an editorial assistant for the CPI: Analysis blog.

Image Credit: CC by 勇/Yong 赵/Zhao/Flickr.

Duterte’s Populism and Philippine Foreign Policy: Implications for China-Philippine Relations


Written by Aries A. Arugay  and Michael I. Magcamit.

With barely one year in office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared bold changes in the country’s formerly conservative and predictable foreign policy. Explosive and controversial statements peppered with profanity have become the new normal on how the small power conducts its external relations in the midst of a turbulent Asia-Pacific. The contempt for the West, admiration toward unlikely allies such as Russia and China, and indifference toward international law and norms were all essential departures from the nation’s previous positions. While the intentions are notably laudable, namely the pursuit of independence and equidistance from all major powers, there is current confusion stemming from policy incoherence, inconsistency, and seemingly uncoordinated implementation among government agencies. The global wave of populism that includes the Philippines has far-reaching repercussions on the conduct of foreign policy that has previously been guided by strategic caution and careful planning rather than spontaneous outbursts. Continue reading “Duterte’s Populism and Philippine Foreign Policy: Implications for China-Philippine Relations”

Act East: The India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

Written by Srini Sitaraman.

Growing Chinese assertiveness and rapid construction has virtually transformed the South China Sea into ‘a Chinese lake.’ Satellite images reveal that Chinese crews are shoring up reefs, constructing fortified buildings and runways, and placing radars and anti-aircraft defense mechanisms on the occupied islets. By forcibly occupying these island chains and reefs and fortifying with military infrastructure, China has ensured that the only way it could be dislodged from the South China Sea is through military action. During his Senate confirmation hearings in January 2017, Mr. Rex Tillerson, the new American Secretary of State, struck a strident note when he suggested that the United States must send a clear signal to stop the island construction and block China’s access to the disputed islands. The official news agencies of the Chinese government reacted by warning of devastating consequences and ‘large-scale war in the South-China Sea,’ if the United States attempted to block Chinese territorial aspirations.  Continue reading “Act East: The India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: