Environmental Governance under Authoritarian Rule : Singapore and China

Research output: Working PapersWorking paper

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Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherSoutheast Asia Research Centre
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016

Publication series

NameSoutheast Asia Research Centre (SEARC) Working Paper Series
PublisherSoutheast Asia Research Centre


This paper considers the possibility of technocratic authoritarian rule to deal more effectively with environmental problems than liberal democracy by comparing Singapore, often regarded as the role model of eco-authoritarianism, with China which wants to follow the city-state's footsteps. However, a closer look at Singapore shows that the city-state's environmental record is only stellar in a utalitarian sense when it is profitable for the city-state. The picture is very different when we consider the near complete destruction of the small country's natural areas. In regard to China, such an approach would, however, be devastating as natural areas have already been reduced to a minimum. In addition, China does not even have effective institutions to deal with the massive environmental crisis the country is facing. Despite massive air and water pollution and heavy investments in new technologies, China has not been able to revert this dire situation. Instead, the reliance on “performance legitimacy” has resulted in an attempt to maintain massive economic growth by among other things increasing the consumption of China's growing middle class. The comparison thus demonstrates that technocratic authoritarianism is not a realistic option to deal with environmental problems.

Citation Format(s)

Environmental Governance under Authoritarian Rule: Singapore and China . / ORTMANN, Stephan.
Hong Kong: Southeast Asia Research Centre, 2016. p. 1-26 (Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC) Working Paper Series; No. 189).

Research output: Working PapersWorking paper