China's “green GDP” experiment and the struggle for ecological modernisation

Yu Wai LI, Graeme LANG

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57 Citations (Scopus)


The ongoing conflict between the goals of environmental conservation and economic growth in China is partly a conflict between state agencies charged with these contrasting missions. In recent years, state environmental agencies attempted to implement a green national accounting (green GDP) exercise to publicise the extent to which environment-related costs of economic activity reduce actual GDP, and to promote a more comprehensive and realistic accounting of economic development and of GDP growth. Despite the difficulties and controversies associated with this type of accounting elsewhere, particularly in Europe, Chinese agencies implemented this project in 2006 and 2007. But there was widespread resistance from regional and local governments, apparently allied to proponents of economic growth within the central government. Chinese scholars and many officials have embraced the concept of “ecological modernisation,” but the Party-State is also bound in many ways to the “treadmill of production.” We illustrate this ongoing dynamic conflict through a study of the attempts to implement a green GDP accounting in China. Copyright © 2010 Journal of Contemporary Asia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-62
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


Li, V., & Lang, G. (2010). China's “green GDP” experiment and the struggle for ecological modernisation. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 40(1), 44-62. doi: 10.1080/00472330903270346


  • China
  • Environment
  • Environmental accounting
  • Ecological modernisation
  • Green GDP


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