Fifteen years ago, opponents of large-scale dam projects in China were greeted with indifference or repression. Today they are part of the hydropower policy-making process itself. What accounts for this dramatic change in this critical policy area surrounding China's insatiable quest for energy? In China's Water Warriors, Andrew C. Mertha argues that as China has become increasingly market driven, decentralised, and politically heterogeneous, the control and management of water has transformed from an unquestioned economic imperative to a lightning rod of bureaucratic infighting, societal opposition, and open protest. Although bargaining has always been present in Chinese politics, more recently the media, nongovernmental organisations, and other activists - actors hitherto denied a seat at the table - have emerged as serious players in the policy-making process. Drawing from extensive field research in some of the most remote parts of Southwest China, China's Water Warriors contains rich narratives of the widespread opposition to dams in Pubugou and Dujiangyan in Sichuan province and the Nu River Project in Yunnan province. Mertha concludes that the impact and occasional success of such grassroots movements and policy activism signal a marked change in China's domestic politics. He questions democratisation as the only, or even the most illuminating, indicator of political liberalisation in China.
China's Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change
$99.75 Regular Price
AuthorsMertha, Andrew C.
PublisherSuny Press (Cornell University)