Commentaries: Ecological Civilization and “Beautiful China”

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.5, 2013


Commentaries: Ecological Civilization and “Beautiful China”



Wan Junren, Pan Jiahua, Lü Zhongmei, Wang Xiaoyi and Zou Yilin


The 18th National Congress Report devotes, for the first time, a separate chapter to ecological civilization building and sets “beautiful China” as a major goal of future ecological progress. To explicate the theoretical wisdom and practical implications of “beautiful China,” we have invited five scholars to discuss issues on what is meant by “beautiful China,” and how to build a “beautiful China” from the perspective of ecological civilization. Professor Wan Junren from Tsinghua University believes that “beautiful China” reflects a new vision of the socialist modernization path with Chinese characteristics. Ecological civilization building is a social programming, which requires a set of clearly-defined, complete, long-term and scientific values of ecological civilization. Senior Research Fellow Pan Jiahua from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences stresses a demand-supply balance of the eco-system. By “supply,” we mean that the productivity of the natural/ecological system should achieve an optimal state and maintain maximum carrying capacity; and by “demand,” we mean that we should change our consumptive behaviors and reduce our ecological footprints, so that they are consistent with the production and capacity of the eco-system. Professor Lü Zhongmei from Hubei University of Economics proposes that the legal system should reflect the value appeals of ecological civilization and ethics. The ecological legal system building in China should include: integrating ecological ideas into the legal system, improving the institutions and mechanisms of the ecological legal system, focusing on sustainability, and establishing a sound ecological legal order. Senior Research Fellow Wang Xiaoyi from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences notes that in building ecological civilization, we should make efforts to build an economical fair society. By “economical,” we mean to reduce resource consumption and establish diverse ways of production and living that are congruent with natural resources endowment; and by “fair,” we mean to recognize the diversity of the ecological environment and promote active social involvement and environmental protection at the grassroots level. Professor Zou Yilin from Fudan University suggests that to study the history of Chinese ecological environment, we should strengthen area studies by taking into account China’s wide geographical expanse and distinct regional variation, as well as the fact that little essential changes occurred in the politics, economy and nature from the Qin dynasty to the late Qing dynasty.