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Man must conquer earth: three stages of CCP policies resulting in environmental degradation in China and characteristics of contemporary environmental politics


  • Fifa Finnsdottir

Summary, in English

This Bachelor’s thesis follows aspects of environmental degradation stemming from the policies of the Chinese Communist Party over the latter half of the 20th century. These start with The Great Leap Forward in ’58 in which people were exhorted to convert as much land to agriculture as possible, construct dams and implement agricultural techniques that in the long-term proved unsustainable and destructive. These were then continued with the Cultural Revolution through land reclamations, the uniform Dazhai-model in agriculture and sending youth brigades off to open up wilderness and convert to arable land, practices which in the long term proved unsustainable and lead to a variety of environmental problems. The economic policies following the reforms of ’78 further served to degrade the land by promoting economic growth and effectively ignoring the ensuing degradation, the consequences of which are a huge aspect of Beijing’s contemporary environmental problems.
The second part will shed light on Beijing’s efforts at reversing this degradation, giving a brief account of environmental laws passed since ’72 while presenting implications with law enforcement and changes in the system.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Earth and Environmental Sciences


  • development
  • Mao Zedong
  • environment
  • China
  • Great Leap Forward
  • miljöfrågor


  • Michael Schoenhals