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The Policy Effects of the Environmental Governance of Chinese Local Governments: A Study Based on the Progress of the River Chief System

Social Sciences in China, 2020

Vol. 41, No. 3, 2020

 

The Policy Effects of the Environmental Governance of Chinese Local Governments: A Study Based on the Progress of the River Chief System

(Abstract)

 

Shen Kunrong and Jin Gang

 

Water pollution control is an important part of the onerous long-term task of building a beautiful China. Based on water pollution data from the state-controlled monitoring sites and the manually compiled data on the evolution of the river chief system (Hezhangzhi 河长制), we used the Difference in Differences (DID) technique to identify the policy effects of the system in local practice. Our findings show that the system has achieved preliminary management of water pollution but has not significantly reduced the main water pollutants. This may indicate that local governments have whitewashed the symptoms rather than addressing the root cause. In the course of comprehensively advancing the river chief system, better governance results will be achieved if all levels of government formulate clear and appropriate goals, design sound and feasible accountability mechanisms, and invite professional third-party agencies specializing in water quality testing to supervise the work.

 

Keywords: river chief system, water pollution, policy effects, Difference in Differences technique