China's Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change

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China's Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change

By Andrew C. Mertha
Cornell University Press, 2008
192 pp. $29.95
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China has a serious problem with water shortages. Many of its rivers and streams are running dry, and its lakes and pools are so short of water that they are badly polluted; such great waterways as the Yellow River no longer carry much water to the ocean. Many Chinese citizens recognize that China's water problems are much too serious a matter to be left to government officials, and so civic-action groups have taken up the challenge of defining better water policies. Mertha recognized early on that citizen involvement could be important in implementing effective water policies. His research has led him to three categories of case studies. The first is about the failure of the civic-action groups to shape policy when the state is too powerful and the movements fail to mobilize public opinion. The second category consists of positive stories of successful citizen involvement. And the third group is about untidy mixed results, when the state is still too powerful but civic-action groups are able to mobilize public opinion.