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IDSA-ECYLF Essay on Display Writing Competition: Our Third Place Winner!

Published by Foreign Affairs Bulletin by IDSA on



The following was the third place winner of our “Essay on Display” Competition, Dora Toth



In this analysis, I will compare the Chinese and European environmental protection policies. I will focus on the motives, the meanings and the results of these policies. Firstly, I would like to concentrate on the diplomatic relations between China and European countries. Secondly, I would like to continue with the historical backgrounds of the environmental protection policies, their importance of the continues actions. Thirdly, I would like to describe briefly the contents of the environmental protection laws and policies. As a last point, I will emphasize on the most relevant environmental challenges that the China and the European Countries are facing with. First of all, I would like to describe the main terms that will be key for determine the whole comparative analysis. Environment refers to an actions, condition which happens in the surrounding of someone. It is a complex term that reflects to chemical, geographical, physical and biological happenings (Environment noun, n.d.). Protection is a synonymy for defence. Environmental protection describes any actions that preserve or defend our environment in order to reach sustainable development. It consists of the change in goods and services, production, consumption and preserve the ecosystem to be destroyed (Environmental Protection, 2002). Policy reflects to different approaches and necessary elements in a legal, political, social or economic sense (Wagenaar, 2011).


Chinese Perspective of Environmental Policies

China is one of the largest countries in the world. It is located in Asia. China has been through a huge economic boost through the several years, which made China as a competitor to the United States. The country lives under a communist regime, which operates in a specially characterised socialism. The former leader of the country, Deng Xiaoping introduced new market strategies and reforms, which made China the world leader economy. China is the most important exporter and importer in the world. One of the main concertation point of the country is open for the technological development and using renewable energy sources (China, n.d.). Since the economic modernization one of the most important issue that China has to deal with is how to protect the environment, the country has introduced basic policies 3 about pollution prevention and ecological protection (Environmental Protection in China, n.d.) It is a very complex process to solve environmental issues especially for the most economic active countries like China, but slowing down degradation was an excellent approach. However, it was not a huge success, because the polices were not centralized. They have been controlled by different government departments and their political interests (Zhaolan-and-Chummei, 2010). Not just inside the country, but in its foreign policy, making international cooperation and agreements in order to protect the environment (Environmental Protection in China, n.d.).


European Perspective of Environmental Policies

The European Union is a well- developed economy, which cosmists of the alliance of 27 countries (European Union, 2010). The European Union is based on common goals, values, economic, political and social interest. In spite of China, the European Union cooperates with countries that based on democracy, rule of law and sustainability of peace. The EU has a political and economic union, which refers to policies that exceed to environment, climate, justice and migration issues (The EU in Brief, n.d.). The environmental policy of the European Union is a directive, which is based on the first UN conference in 1972 (United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference, n.d). The EU has recognized that in order to grow continuously and preserve sustainability, it needs to exercise legislations that can form the future of the globe. These goals created Article 191 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (The EU in Brieg n.d.). The EU also formed a six Environmental Action Programmes (EAPs), that also has a huge influence for the environmental policies (EnvNet|Environmental Acquis|EU Environmental Policy, n.d.). The European Union not only trading inside their members, they have international agreements and negotiations, because current are not geographically based, they have an international effect and it should be protected. The biggest goal is to reach the sustainable development. The main agreements and agendas are created between the UN and EU (International Issues, n.d.).


Diplomatic Relationship Between the European Union and China

The diplomatic relationship between the two countries started in 1975 (Marking 45 years of EU-China diplomatic relations in a time of global crisis, 2020). They make 1.8 billion euro per day with each in trading (The EU Ambassador to China and the Ambassadors to China of the 27 EU Member States, 2020). They cooperate in several political, social and economic 4 issues. The common goals of both of parties are social justice, peace and sustainable development. However, in the Corona Virus crisis the two partners’ relation has lowered, because of the initial disinformation propaganda by the Chinese government. According to Bhatnagar in the post-Covid19 world it could cause severe diplomatic issues (2020). For example, the growing Chinese market interests in economically weaker European countries, which can result a mistrust in Brussels (Bhatnagar, 2020). In contrast, the current crisis showed the countries how important diplomatic relations are. Through the first wave of COVID19, the European Union has supported China with donations and medical equipment. China also helped the EU in terms of equipment. In the future, further cooperation and agreements will be needed to survive the economic consequences. Another important diplomatic issues between the parties are successful climate policies. Both of them has to create reliable solutions for climate change. Thus, they have to come up with joint actions. For instance, investing into clean energy technology. Furthermore, continues research is also an important context, because many lives of cautious groups of people all in jeopardy. Therefore, it is needed to be detailed action plans and common polices between the two authorities to open for green solutions and technology. The issues of sustainability is not only a China-European Union related issue. The United Nations also participates actively in these discussions and underline the protection of Human Rights referring to the Declaration of Human Rights (The EU Ambassador to China and the Ambassadors to China of the 27 EU Member States, 2020).


History of Environmental Policy in China

Since, China has the biggest economy. the country faces with severe environmental issues; these issues are not new-fangled. Carbon-emissions and low life expectancies were also the main reason why the country should change its economic policies. One of the main events that helped the country for the new path was the United Nations. The UN Conference in 1972 was the first one that dealt with human environment (Jahiel, 1998). In the 70s the main issues were definitely the air pollution (Jahiel, 1998). In 1998 the Jiang Zemin-Zhu Rongji administration suggested to set an agenda for the ongoing environmental problems (Jahiel, 1998). The environmental issues started to be prominent in those years. China’s rapid economic growth made impossible to turn back on environmental issues. China also had to catch-up to other countries to grow continuously. Because of national and international interests, China had to support the future of the development. The preventive regulations resulted more deepened justification (Jahiel, 1998). Deng Xiapong also implemented changes 5 in terms of green-life. The media started to emphasize on the importance of the issue of climate and environmental changes. However, these were small and ineffective steps. ‘actual change to environmental policies and effective implementation will require revisiting statesociety and state-market relations and China’s bureaucratic power structure’(Albert-and-Xu, 2016). In 2014 China’s global emission went up to 27%, which was the highest all around the world that time (Albert-and-Xu, 2016). The high consumption rate resulted a huge smog wall; it was 40 times more that has been allowed by the WTO. It generated a social and economic crisis. One of the culprit of the crisis was the high concentration of coal. China produces the half of the coal production in the world. Therefore, China’s first commitment was to lower the turnout of coal. Emissions are also huge threat in regards of sustainability. More than 14 million cars were driving on the road in 2014 (Albert-and-Xu, 2016). Water pollution and shortages are also in jeopardy. It has a huge effect of the future of the nation. In the 2014s the cost of pollution was estimated by the China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, what stated that it cost approximately $227 million for the Chinese Government (Albert-and-Xu, 2016). These issues also got voice into the public sector. There were several demonstrations and riots for change. In 2014 the first Environmental Protection Law had been submitted (Albert-and-Xu, 2016). China also created five year plans and objectives. For instance, investing in renewable energies more (Albert-and-Xu, 2016).


History of Environmental Policy in the European Union

In the recent decades the European Countries also had to face with the environmental reality and make actions in order to protect the present and future of the European citizens. Similarly, to China, the first push of the environmental crisis was based on the Conference of the United Nation in Stockholm, in 1972 (Environment policy: general principles and basic framework, n.d.). The first legal initiations are provided by The Single European Act of 1987 (Environment policy: general principles and basic framework, n.d). The policy consists of the importance of quality environment, use of natural resources and human health. The Treaty of Maastricht placed the environment as a policy and an important topic in the European Council. The Treaty of Amsterdam used the term sustainable development as the goal of the policies. Treaty of Lisbon raised the issue not only European, but international level (Environment policy: general principles and basic framework, n.d.).


Current Issues and Policies in China in terms of the Environment

One of the most important policies for China are environment-related. Hence, Chinese economy is the biggest one, they have to continue to order strategies that help them develop. They opened up for several policies to prevent environment, provide sustainable development, reduce gas emissions and contamination level. They adopted many laws that protect the environment. For example, Law on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution. There are several decrees namely the Regulations on the Safe Administration of Chemicals and Other Dangerous Materials is one of them. The country set pollution and emission standards as well (Environmental Protection in China,n.d.). The Chinese Government adopted new goals for the next fifteen years, which includes the decrease of energy and carbon neutrality. However, Chinese diplomatic promises are misleading in some extent. A great example is CCP plan that should reduce the level of carbon emission. In spite of lowering, the measure of carbon emission went up from 13.5% in 2000 by 2018 it reached 27% (Duesterberg, 2020). Moreover, China builds coal-fired generation plants which emission level is also fairly high. In small scales China lowered greenhouse gas emission. The progress is shown in its GDP also, but it needed to be more actions.


Current Issues and Policies in European Countries in terms of the Environment

For the European Union green policy is a key goal to achieve. The EU will band the singleused plastics including earbuds and drinking straws. As China, for the EU gas emission is a huge threat, thus they plan to reduce it with 40% by 2030 (2. Current Environmental Policy, 2016). They made legislations also for cleaner cars, reduction of chemical materials and save trees under Natura 2000 program (2. Current Environmental Policy, 2016). There are institutions that are concentrate to reach these goals time by time. The European Council and European Free Trade Association is also creating and using policies in terms of environmental protection (2. Current Environmental Policy, 2016). However, these policies have only less effect for the crucial environmental problems, because most of them are concertation on the nature and not the development. Thus, the European Union should focus more for sustainable development as well (Bruyninckx,2019).



In conclusion, Chinese and European environmental protection policies are pretty important. Through the analysis, it was shown clearly that the motives to apply these policies both for the European Countries and China are remain their economic position. On the one hand, it is important to sustain development for the other generations in the mother country as well. On the other hand, if they do not protect the environment the diplomatic and economic agreements and cooperation will be fade away. The meaning of these results determines the resources, history and way of thinking of both countries. For the European Union it is hard to show results, because the European countries have different financial records and level of development, it can happen that the results of the environmental protection come sooner in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe. In China economic interest determine mainly the results. It can be said that in a smaller scale that was excellent what they had achieved, however it is far not enough. Both of the parties has a huge influence in the future of the world. They have to make sure that they make the best decisions at best times and do not wait until the last time. Because environmental issues are crucial problems we observe the facts of it day by day. Thus, both of them has to act and cooperate to save the world for one and for together


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