21. Jan 2022 / 19 min

China’s Environmental Foreign Relations

With Dr. Heidi Wang-Kaeding and Vorawan Wannalak

Environmental protection and climate actions has embedded in China’s foreign policy and the Chinese government has recently pledged to make the Belt and Road Initiative “open, green, and clean”. How far is this an agenda designed primarily for international consumption? How do domestic interest groups respond to China’s environmental foreign relations? To what extent can they influence and shape China’s domestic and international environmental discourse?

In this episode, Heidi Wang-Kaeding talks to Vorawan Wannalak about her recently published book China’s Environmental Foreign Policy (2021, Routledge), which explores China’s attempts to assert alternative norms – “Ecological Civilization” – in the global environmental governance and highlights the importance of domestic forces as a key factor that influence diverse and contradictory environmental behaviors of China at international levels.

Over recent decades, China has moved from being a follower towards taking on a leadership role in global environmental governance. This book discusses this important development. It examines the key role of Chinese interest groups, showing how through various domestic dynamics they have influenced how China has approached issues such as climate change and the environment. Focusing on examples of multilateral environmental treaties, bilateral cooperation, and the proposition of alternative norms – the idea of China as an “ecological civilisation” – the book provides crucial insights on the evolution of China’s approach to international relations and engagement with global environmental governance, and contributes to the discussion of what kind of power China is poised to become.

Dr. Heidi Wang-Kaeding is a lecturer in International Relations at Keele University and a co-founder of the Hong Kong Studies Association, based in the UK.

Vorawan Wannalak is a PhD student at the University of Potsdam. She was a 2021 Virtual SUPRA Fellow at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies.

You may also be interested in another Nordic Asia Podcast mentioned by Heidi, in which Mette Halskov Hansen discusses the concept of ecological civilization here.

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