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ICS Occasional Papers

Looking Beyond the Crossroads: Rethinking China’s Ecological Civilization amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

The last decade witnessed major shifts in China's environmental governance. While it once seemed that China discounted environmental concerns for industrial growth, climate issues gradually became key components of both governance and propaganda. The awakening of this consciousness was marked by a milestone when China became a signatory to the Paris Agreement. In the 19th National Congress, Xi Jinping's Thought of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era highlighted the vision of an ‘Ecological Civilization’ for the construction of a ‘Beautiful China’. However, at the closing of this decade, COVID 19 marks an unexpected shift in the epoch of the Anthropocene.

There have been many optimistic studies suggesting favourable ecological outcomes due to the global lockdown and reduced human activity, like reduction in carbon emissions and decrease in overall air, water and soil pollution, particularly in China. This paper, while exploring such implications, stresses on the phenomenon of the virus as an instrument for rethinking governance and propaganda models in the ecological and other connected domains. It links the concept of Ecological Civilization to its more holistic Chinese roots and holds the Chinese regime to that interpretation, rather than a narrower anthropocentric notion of environmental sustainability.

 

Keywords: Ecological Civilization, Environmental Governance, COVID-19, Ecological Thinking, Ecosophy

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