Environmental Constitutionalism in China: A Constitution without Constitutionalism?

Evelyn Li Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

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There is a long tradition of constitutionalising environmental protection in the People's Republic of China ('China'). This is illustrated, for example, by the constitutionalisation of the need to construct ‘ecological civilisation’ – a set of values and development concepts included in 2018 as part of constitutional amendments. Yet, the Constitution of China is often described as a constitution without constitutionalism. This article examines the constitutional environmental provisions in China, as well as the underpinning constitutional theories, to demonstrate how China enjoys environmental constitutionalism. This version of constitutionalism, however, is absent of rights and overwhelmingly enforced through state-based approaches, which means that it is distinct from the rights-based and courts-centred versions of liberal constitutionalism. This study thus exemplifies how constitutional practices may adopt different formulations and environmental constitutionalism exists without being committed to liberal principles.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereqae012
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Environmental Law
Early online date29 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2024

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