This project, supported by research grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, analyzes the interactions between the local state and NGOs in China.
Contemporary China Studies
China’s urban population has grown from 172 million in 1978 to 562 million in 2005, when it reached 42.99% of the total population. According to the census in April 2011, 49.7% of Chinese was living in cities, and by now urbanites outnumber rural residents, making China a predominantly urban nation for the first time in its history. One study suggests that by 2025 350 million more people will have moved to cities, and in 2030 urban population will top 1 billion.
This project is supported by a three-year grant (2014-2017) titled 'Coalitions of the "weak": fighting pollution at China's rural-urban interface', funded by Hong Kong Research Grants Council (HK$457,168). It started in 2013 as a collaboration with Dr. Thomas Johnson (City University of Hong Kong) and Dr. Lu Jixia (China Agricultural University). We carried out an extensive documentary research, several interviews with lawyers and NGO workers, and exploratory fieldwork in three sites (Hebei, Guangdong and Sichuan). Further fieldwork took place in 2016 and 2017.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE also known as "e-waste") is currently the fastest growing solid waste stream on the planet. Its management has been recognized as one of the major challenges of the 21st century, not only by the scientific community but also by international and national authorities, activist organizations and the multinational corporations which produce it. Yet WEEE is not only a technical or ecological problem to be managed but also deeply rooted in social relations, economic opportunities and cultural contexts.
Environmental health is an urgent global issue. Building on her long-term work on experiences of illness, since 2007 Anna began to research the extent to which Chinese villagers regard pollution as a cause of illness and with what consequences. Citizen activism against pollution has attracted the attention of the media and the government alike. Although most environmental suffering takes place far from the purview of journalists, courts and NGOs, the daily grind of “living with pollution” has received scant attention.
Healthcare provision in rural areas presents an ongoing challenge for the Chinese government. Despite the recent introduction of a cooperative healthcare scheme, many obstacles remain to the even and fair distribution of welfare. In this context, it is vital to understand how Chinese villagers themselves view health, illness and healthcare, how they explain illnesses and where they may seek help.
Sarah Eaton is researching aspects of “state advance” (guojin) in China, a term used to describe the increasing power and wealth of large state-owned enterprises since the global financial crisis of 2008-09. One important conclusion of her research is that guojin is, in fact, a much longer-term and slower-moving process than most observers have realized. She has published results of this research project in The China Journal and Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies and is now completing a book manuscript on the subject.
In a series of presentations and articles, Paul Irwin Crookes puts forward evidence to suggest that a major inhibitor towards achieving a true strategic partnership between the European Union and China is the predominantly values-based paradigm that continues to dominate the EU’s engagement patterns with China.
China is now embracing a number of different foreign policy levers to project its interests into the international space. The country’s use of soft power, and the conceptual differences in interpretation between Chinese and European perspectives on the dynamics of soft power construction, has now become a topic of considerable importance and policy salience. In April 2013, Paul Irwin Crookes presented his latest research on this topic at an international conference organised by the College of Europe and hosted by the EU Committee of the Regions in Brussels.