2011 china pre-trip assignment #1

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Selected by The Globalist as one of the top ten books of 2004, The River Runs Black by Elizabeth C. Economy 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.
Please answer all questions as thoroughly as possible using The River Runs Black to guide you on a factual basis, and when applicable, your own thoughts to relay your individual opinion(s). Whenever possible, highlight (discuss) Jiangsu province and and/or specific areas within it like Shanghai, Lake Tai and the Huai and Yangtze Rivers (places that you will be visiting). Also, updated research statistics, beyond 2004, will mark your efforts as exemplary.
It is highly recommended that you purchase a quality map of China to: 1) review geographical areas presented in required pre-trip readings/assignments; and, 2) carry with you throughout your travels while in China as a reference.

Chapter 1:

  1. List the eight major rivers that run through China.

  1. What is the geographic location of the Huai River and its source of water?

3. Describe, in detail, the death of the Huai River.

4. The author states on page 9, “The saga of the Huai River Valley is typical of today’s China.”Explain.

5. Three broad debates related to China’s environment exist till this day.

Summarize them.
6. The author states on page 15, “Today, China’s environmental practices

are overwhelmingly shaped by the dramatic process of economic and

political reform that has been transforming the country since the late


7. The “campaign” by the central government to clean-up the Huai River

failed. What is meant by campaign here?

Chapter 2:

  1. Describe how the Ancient Chinese perceived the environment.  Be specific.

  1. How did Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism and Buddhism expand upon the

ancient values?  How did these philosophies differ in their basic approaches to

the environment?  Be specific.

3.  Which of these philosophies has been the most influential?  Provide specific


  1. List and explain some of the environmental problems China had between the

Warring States period and the end of the Qing dynasty.

  1. How did the Chinese view population growth? How did their view towards population growth inform their environmental policies?

  1. What is Mao’s environmental legacy? In particular, how did his political views shape his stance towards the environment? Describe “The Great Leap Forward” and “The Cultural Revolution.” How did these periods shape China’s landscape? Be specific.

  1. Explain how Mao’s rule was in some ways an extension of ancient Chinese values. Be specific.

Chapter 3:

  1. What is a SOE? What is a TVE? Why has the Chinese leadership diminished the role of SOE’s in the Chinese economy, and come to rely on TVEs as the foundation of economic growth?

  1. How have foreign investments played a role in China’s new economy?

  1. Discuss how China’s forests and grasslands have suffered, and how the loss of these essential ecosystems have both local and global consequences.

  1. What wake-up call was delivered by the Yangtze River in 1998?

  1. Explain the statement as rigorously as possible, “For many regions in China, diminishing water supplies post today’s greatest social, economic, and political challenges.”

  1. Describe the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) 2002 annual report on China’s levels of water pollution.

7. China is the number one consumer of coal in the world. Exactly, how much does

China rely on coal to meet its energy needs? Contrast coal use in Japan, USA,

and India.

  1. What is the problem with small (under Som) coal-fried power plants?

  1. Elaborate on the reality of China’s rapidly growing transportation sector.

  1. According to the 2001 Fifth National Census, what was China’s population?

Why are Chinese scholars questioning the accuracy of the census? What are

the real concerns behind China’s burgeoning demographics?

  1. Read “Who Will Feed China,” written by America’s environmentalist Lester Brown in 1994 (hot link on “Outline” page of course web site). Why was this article considered controversial and how did the Chinese government react? How have their companies failed and even worsened the situation?

  1. Research how much grain China produced each year from 1990 to 2010.

  1. Unemployed SOE workers and migrant laborers make for a potentially

explosive combination in China’s cities. Explain.

  1. What is the life expectancy of a traffic police officer in Beijing, and why? How is this problem affecting children?

15-a. What are the economic costs of (% GDP) environmental in

China in dollars?

15-b. What are the environmental costs of percent resource or

percentage increase in pollution?
Chapter 4:

  1. Describe how China’s environmental polices changed during the period between 1972 and 1992.

  1. How did the UNCED cause changes in China’s environmental governance?

  1. How has China’s legal system hindered change? Be specific.

  1. How has SEPA’s role changed over the years? What is its role now? What are

some obstacles it faces?

  1. What is an EPB? What is their function?

  1. How have EPB’s struggled to enforce laws?

  1. What are some challenges China’s judicial system faces? Be specific.

  1. What are the implications of China’s decentralized system of authority?

  1. Describe the failures of China’s campaign mentality. Provide examples.

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