Dynamic Political Opportunities and Environmental Forces Linking up : A Case Study of Anti-PX Contention in Kunming

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-548
Journal / PublicationJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number106
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2017


While the literature on Chinese environmental politics tends to examine NGO actions and popular protests as two separate facets of environmental activism, such a tendency runs the risk of missing the linkages that have begun to emerge among environmental forces. This new phenomenon is highlighted with a case study of local opposition against the siting of an oil refining plant in Kunming through the lens of political opportunity theory. Two forms of linkages are identified, namely the linkages between local communities and local NGOs and the linkages between local and supra-local NGOs. These linkages emerged and developed through dynamic interactions between political opportunities and contentious actions. Citizen-initiated protests in Kunming pressured the local government to adopt a receptive attitude for the purpose of maintaining social stability, which paradoxically expanded political opportunities for NGO participation. The structural political environment of the locality indirectly facilitated collaboration between local and supra-local environmental NGOs by activating prior social networks among key NGO members. The analysis of the dynamic linkages among environmental forces reflects the prospects of a broader environmental movement and its relation to political contexts.