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This book focuses on the question of whether and how civil society may contribute to policy innovation. As the focus of civil society research is often more on the constraints on civil society by the state and less on the agency and effects of civil society organisations the authors provide a fresh and fruitful perspective.





1. Civil Society Contributions to Policy Innovation in the PRC

The re-emergence of civil society in the People’s Republic of China at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century has left pundits and practitioners wondering about the direction of China’s sociopolitical development trajectory.3 How is China’s civil society likely to evolve? Is it going to resemble the voluntary sector in Europe or Northern America or will it bear greater similarities with civil societies in the global south? What are the likely effects of Chinese civic activism on social and political development in China? In discussions about China’s civil society development, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the proverbial elephant in the room. Will the CCP provide more room for civil society to develop? Or will the current trend of a state-led civil society4 continue unabated?
Andreas Fulda

Environmental NGOs: Between a Rock and a Hard Place


2. Environment and Health in China: The Role of Environmental NGOs in Policy Innovation

The impact of environmental degradation on health in China has become increasingly evident in recent years. The Chinese government has steadily increased its investment in environmental protection and emissions of some pollutants are in decline, but air, water and soil pollution continue to pose serious problems, with worrying implications for human health. A recently published report by the Asian Development Bank and Tsinghua University found that fewer than 1 per cent of the 500 largest cities in China meet the air quality standards recommended by the World Health Organization and that seven of the world’s most polluted cities are located in China.1 Official data show that 40 per cent of the rural population (312 million people) have no access to safe drinking water,2 and as much as 10 per cent of China’s arable land is contaminated to some degree by heavy metal pollution, presenting a serious risk to food safety.3
Kathinka Fürst, Jennifer Holdaway

3. Environmental Information Disclosure and Civil Society Innovation

Governments across the globe have embraced mandatory environmental information disclosure (EID) as a vital component of their pollution control strategies. EID is at the forefront of ‘next-generation’ policy instruments that aim to improve environmental protection through greater public oversight of polluters.1 Commentators have dubbed it part of a ‘third wave’ of pollution abatement strategies, after ‘command-and-control’ regulation and market-based approaches.2 Studies have shown that EID can be an effective pollution reduction strategy in a variety of contexts in both developed and developing countries.3
Thomas Johnson

4. Public Participation in Low-carbon Policies: Climate Change and Sustainable Lifestyle Movements

This chapter presents an overview of the two related issues of climate change and sustainable consumption and production (SCP), and how Chinese civil society organizations (CSOs) including both grassroots CSOs and think tanks are addressing these two issues. A particular focus of the chapter is on CSO participation in processes aiming to influence and contribute to policy making on national and local levels. As China’s climate change policies are a moving target and are still undergoing constant development, the chapter focuses more on trends and significant ongoing developments than on presenting an analysis of completed processes of policy innovation and public participation. The chapter first introduces the current state of the climate change problem, the interconnectedness between China and the EU on this issue through the perspective of SCP. That is followed by a general description of the background of public participation and civil society movements in the climate change issue. Then CSO initiatives on sustainable consumption, particularly lifestyle movements, are presented to ascertain the link between new social movement theories and various approaches of international movements on climate change, sustainable consumption and lifestyles. Furthermore, a comparison between China’s environmental CSOs and think tanks and ways of engagement in China’s climate change policy processes is presented, focusing in particular on the China Civil Climate Action Network (CCAN).
Patrick Schroeder

Social Development NGOs: From Service Delivery to Policy Advocacy?


5. Growing or Perishing? The Development of Labour NGOs

It is not easy to set up non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China. They have to register with the government and, for a long time, the government subjected them to a complicated qualification system. They could not register with the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA) directly. They had to get sponsorship from a suitable ‘business supervision unit’ within the government (‘盨盬眯眧眔’) and only then, once they had a sponsor, were they allowed to register with MoCA. Many NGOs were unable to find a suitable sponsor, so could not register with the government. This double filter definitely impeded the development of NGOs in China. They had to turn into underground organizations without any legal status, but they still functioned.
Chun-Yi Lee

6. Disability Groups Turn to the Social Enterprise Model: A New Trajectory?

China’s emerging civil society has been the focus of lively academic discussions about its potential contributions to environmental protection,3 local governance and political reform,4 as well as donor-recipient relations in international cooperation and development.5 At the forefront of all discussions about civil society in China is the key question about Chinese party-state heteronomy and the degree of autonomy of Chinese CSOs.
Andreas Fulda, Andrea Lane, Francesco Valente

7. ‘Enabling the Disabled’: The Growing Role of Civil Society in Disability Rights Advocacy

Since the 1970s the prevailing discourse around disability in North America, Britain and much of western Europe has focused on the ‘social model’, which at its simplest asserts that people are disabled because of their social, political, cultural and physical environments and not as a result of physical, sensory or mental impairment. In Britain, in particular, many in the disability movement have asserted a rather sharp dichotomy between ‘social’ and ‘medical’ models of disability, and since the 1980s this has translated into a raft of policy reforms in the fields of education, employment and social welfare, which have attempted to remove barriers and foster equality and social inclusion. At the heart of this discourse is the slogan ‘NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US’, which expresses ‘the attempt by disabled people to take back control over their lives. Rather than non-disabled people taking decisions, speaking for, or otherwise dominating them, disabled people are asserting their ability and right to be independent.’1
Stephen Hallett

8. How Policy Entrepreneurs Convinced China’s Government to Start Procuring Public Services from CSOs

The donor-recipient landscape is changing rapidly for Chinese civil society organizations (CSOs).1 After an era of mainly internationally-funded civil society building, the Chinese government has become a donor in its own right. It has started to provide funding for Chinese CSOs that are willing to align with government policies. Government procurement of public services has a short history (it started at the municipal level in 2000), which explains why it does not yet have a political and legal framework. Like many of China’s social and economic policies, local experimentation preceded national initiatives.
Yang Tuan, Huang Haoming, Andreas Fulda

International Cooperation: A Role for Citizen Diplomacy and Civil Society Partnerships in EU—China Relations?


9. Opportunities and Challenges for EU-China Civil society Collaboration

After finally acknowledging their mutual economic interest in each other, the European Union and China are currently discussing a bilateral investment treaty.1 This treaty could serve either to calm down the conflicts over unfair trading practices taking place between the EU and China, or add more fuel to the flames. Both regions need each other, are dependent on each other, yet it is certainly never easy to adhere to the fine rules of high-level diplomacy. But these economic and political conflicts affect the people of both regions, who are increasingly being drawn into the conflicts. People-to-People dialogues are therefore useful, for they help to build a common ground for mutual help and collaboration.
Nora Sausmikat

10. Bridging the Gaps between European and Chinese Civil Societies

The above quote is indicative of an increasing consensus among concerned China scholars that there is a dire need for innovative solutions to bridge the communication and collaboration gap between Europe and China. As Eberhard Sandschneider argues:
[A] lack of trust and mutual respect characterizes Western-Chinese relations to such an extent that it impairs core strategic interests on both sides. Despite hundreds of delegations and thousands of exchange students, both China and the West are far from reaching a level of mutual understanding necessary for enduring and sustaining bilateral relations.2
Mark Pixley, Karen Lim

11. Reinvigorating the EU-China Strategic Partnership

According to China’s recent policy paper on the European Union, the ‘China-EU Comprehensive Partnership [is at a crucial stage as] it enters its second decade. … With no fundamental conflict of interests, China and the EU have far more agreement than differences [and] face new historic opportunities.’3 The Chinese government’s renewed emphasis on collaboration implies both opportunities and challenges for civil society dialogue and cooperation between the EU and China. These opportunities and challenges have to be understood in the context of fast moving developments within China and the EU. China is in a phase of complex reforms and transition towards a market-driven, innovative, knowledge-based, more inclusive, more just and more sustainable economy and society. For this transition towards a model of more sustainable development, China needs and frequently asks for the support of the EU and its member states.
Andreas Fulda, Horst Fabian


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