Foreign Firms, Investment, and Environmental Regulation in the People's Republic of China

Synopsis

This new book takes as its focus a simple yet critical question: Does foreign direct investment lead to weakened environmental regulation, thereby turning developing countries into "pollution havens"? The debate over this question has never before been the focus of a book about China. Phillip Stalley examines the development of Chinese law governing the environmental impact of foreign investors, describes how regional competition for investment has influenced environmental regulation, and analyzes the environmental practices of foreign and Chinese companies. He finds only modest evidence that integration with the global economy has transformed China into a pollution haven. Indeed, after China opened its domestic market, the entry of foreign films largely strengthened the environmental protection regime, including the oversight of foreign firms' environmental practices. Nevertheless, foreign firms (and the competition to lure them) have posed new challenges to controlling industrial pollution. Stalley identifies the conditions under which foreign investment contributes to and undermines environmental protection, offering readers a solid understanding of China's environmental challenges. He also builds on existing theory and provides hypotheses that can be tested with other developing nations.