Selected by the Globalist as one of the top ten books of 2004, The River Runs Black is the most comprehensive and balanced volume to date on China's growing environmental crisis and its implications for the country's development. Based on historical research, case studies, and interviews with officials, scholars, and activists in China, this book provides insightful analysis of the economic and political roots of China's environmental challenge as well as the evolution of the leadership's response.
China's spectacular economic growth over the past two decades has dramatically depleted the country's natural resources and produced skyrocketing rates of pollution. Environmental degradation has also contributed to significant public health problems, mass migration, economic loss, and social unrest. Elizabeth C. Economy argues that China's approach to environmental protection mirrors its economic development program: devolving authority to local officials, opening the door to private individuals, and inviting participation from the international community, while retaining only weak central control.
The result has been a patchwork of environmental protection in which a few wealthy regions with strong leaders and international ties improve their local conditions, while most of the country continues to deteriorate, and some regions suffer irrevocable damage. Economy examines the growing role of nongovernmental groups in protecting the environment and expanding the boundaries of political action, and she sketches out several environmental scenarios for the country.
A Council on Foreign Relations Book