Washington International Law Journal


The Chinese government has struggled to enforce environmental law, due in part to local protectionism. In an attempt to overcome local protectionism, the 2008 Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution uses the cadre system to incentivize local officials to enforce national water quality standards. This comment argues that the cadre system presents a pragmatic means of attaining enforcement of quantified environmental standards because it implements the already existing Chinese Communist Party’s system of vertical hierarchy that has proven relatively successful in achieving other social goals. The cadre system, however, will only produce clean water over the long-term if it incentivizes political support and funding for environmental protection agencies to create accurate quantified water quality data. Moreoever, China’s use of the cadre system in combating water pollution signals a move toward a political rather than legal solution and will further centralize Chinese Communist Party power, thus limiting transparency, democracy, and public involvement.

First Page