He Xiangbai

He Xiangbai is an Associate Professor at Kenneth Wang School of Law, Soochow University, where he  teaches and researches on Chinese environmental law and climate change law. He received his Masters degree from Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University (China) in 2010 and his PhD degree from Western Sydney University (Australia) in 2014. He was a Visiting Scholar of University of Notre Dame (United States) in 2017. He has published a monograph with Springer, and several articles both in English and Chinese.

Designation: Soochow University, Kenneth Wang School of Law
Institution: Soochow University, Kenneth Wang School of Law
Paper: Making Chinese local governments responsible for their local environment: New law, old problems
Abstract: "Local governments have been frequently blamed for deteriorating environmental conditions due to their failure to implement national environmental laws. To improve local governments’ environmental performance, the new Environmental Protection Law provides a comprehensive responsibility system to make local officials accountable. However, this article argues that the underlying reasons for local governments’ failures are much more complicated than they may appear. Just as well-recognized variables like motivation, incentives and capacity are crucial factors in the successful implementation of the new law, so too are clarity, certainty and rigidity of legal provisions. When national laws are ambiguous and fail to explicitly delegate responsibilities, local leaders become confused about their environmental responsibilities and may act improperly to cheat the accountability system. All of these variables must be understood in present central-local relation which informs local government’s identity, decision-making process and law implementation. This article reviews how clear this new law is about local governments’ environmental responsibilities, before blaming for their failure or local protectionism. The analysis of political accountability and legal accountability provides a basic but crucial framework where local governments’ environmental decisions are made. These two aspects deserve more in-depth research for better understanding of China’s chronic enforcement gap."