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3 Improving Government Accountability in the Face of Environmental Challenges

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Chapter Summary

Environmental management has become a major aspect of government responsibility in the process of China's social transition. At the end of 2011, a debate about air quality in China that began on the Internet quickly turned PM2.5 from a technical term into a household word, which was then used almost as a synonym of the environmental problem of air pollution. By 2012, public incidents touched off by environmental problems of various kinds had become more intense than before. These incidents included public protests against heavily polluting industrial projects in Shifang, Qidong, and Ningbo, drinking water security, and illegal pollution discharge by enterprises. All those mentioned above highlight the public questioning of the lack of government accountability and also public expectations for better government performance. These expectations, debates, and criticisms not only focus on the cause, effect, and accountability of the environmental issues, but also on safeguarding rights.

Keywords: China; environmental management; government accountability; Ningbo; pollution discharge; Qidong; Shifang; water security



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