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Turning the Tables on Foreign Assistance in Second-Generation Environmentalism in Russia and China

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image of Inner Asia

Civil society and environmental NGOs in Russia and China have been facing gradual crackdowns from their governments for the past decade and have been accused of being connected to foreign governments. Due to the changes in political and legal environments and the rise of a new generation of activists, the civil society landscape has been transformed in both countries. Drawing on 14 months of fieldwork, this paper aims to provide an updated account of environmental activism in Russia and China—the post-foreign-funding civil society. It focuses on grass-roots NGOs and their relationships with their foreign donors and the consequences of foreign grant withdrawal. The paper aims to understand how foreign support has shaped the image of environmental activism for the generation born shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the crackdown on the students’ protests in Tiananmen Square. It argues that young activists in Russia and China see environmentalism as something ‘foreign’, which also makes it attractive to take part in. The paper suggests that, while in some cases foreign funding and international linkages may have endangered existing NGOs in Russia and China, the opportunity to meet foreigners attracts the younger generation to environmental movements.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford OxfordUK


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