China’s crackdown on independent expression continues, and we always wonder what we can do.
Maybe one approach may come from what at least some commentators believe is a greater interest in international cooperation from the Chinese leadership in the environmental area. (See here.)
If so, maybe us lawyers, but particularly our environmental lawyer friends, can find ways to suggest to our colleagues in China that you can never get environmental problems dealt with unless you have a rule of law system in which there are effective tools for those harmed by environmental to challenge the perpetrators. I suspect that there would be a very strong correlation between position on Rule of Law indexes and environmental quality (or maybe the direction of environmental quality.) Without such a system, the incentives for environmental corner-cutting a just too great.
Of course, this, as so much else, puts the leadership in a quandary. The appalling state of the environment is one of the main forces pulling down the legitimacy of the regime, but returning to greater commitment to the rule of law risks releasing forces that, in the short term, threaten to further de-legitimize the leadership.