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Climate and Environment

Andrea Chu
Freelance Writer
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piqer: Andrea Chu
Sunday, 16 July 2017

China’s Religious Revival Fuels Environmental Activism

In the last few decades, religion has been making a comeback throughout China. Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity all have strong numbers in China, and their leaders are turning their attention to the state of the environment. Confucianism is also in a resurgence, and draws clear connections between morality and the environment. "Spiritual leaders are invoking concepts like karma and sin in deriding the excesses of economic development. Religious followers are starting social service organizations to serve as watchdogs against polluters. Advocates are citing their faith to protest plans to build factories and power plants near their homes."

Many of these groups have distinctly different notions of the human–environment relationship than Western societies. "Xuan Jing, a Taoist monk with a black beard, said Western notions of the environment were focused on treating symptoms of a problem, not the underlying disease." Even Christian groups are framing the issues differently from their counterparts in Europe and the US. And with the West faltering on international environmental action (most notably Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement), they are seeing an opportunity for China to become a global leader. This has, so far, worked in tandem with the government's efforts in the same goal. 

With religious groups' support, strong action from the central government, and an increasingly vocal civil society, it seems that China is poised for making big pushes, both internally and externally, on issues of pollution, health, climate, and safety. One can safely say that China has very much been a country of action in this realm. 

Further reading >> The Politics of Religion in China

China’s Religious Revival Fuels Environmental Activism
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