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Ecological Migration

Environmental Policy in China

Edited By Masayoshi Nakawo, Yuki Konagaya and Shinjilt

In the context of the current wave of global environmental concern, this book considers measures aimed at solving environmental problems, investigating the example of ecological migration.
The term «ecological migration» refers to the organized migration of people engaged in occupations that cause ecological destruction, aimed at rehabilitating and conserving the affected areas. In the vast arid and semi-arid regions that constitute the steppes of Inner Mongolia, grassland vegetation is in imminent danger due to overgrazing. Therefore, the herders are made to migrate to other areas in order to ensure regeneration of the affected grasslands. This book’s contributions are guided by questions such as: What has been the result of the strategy of ecological migration? Have the grasslands successfully been conserved? And can the desertification of Inner Mongolia be prevented?
The essays collected in this volume originate from a workshop on ecological migration held in Beijing, China, in 2004, and were published in Japanese and Chinese, both in 2005. They have been adopted as a textbook in university classes in Japan and China, and were updated and translated for the English publication.

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Introduction: Remote regions of western China and “ecological migration” 11

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11 Introduction: Remote regions of western China and “ecological migration” SHINJILT Introduction Within the context of the current tide of globalization (quanqiuhua in Chinese), China is intent on national integration through policies that emphasize political stability and economic growth. The country has achieved remarkable economic development under a system of “Chinese- style socialism” that combines the principles of political one-party rule with free market economics. At the same time, China currently faces a number of problems, specifically environmental problems, such as the degradation of the natural environment caused by chronic population growth, economic problems such as those evidenced by the widening dis- parity in personal incomes between the “east” and the “west” of the coun- try, and ethnic issues or national question (minzu wenti) associated with differences in tradition and culture, and related to subsistence patterns and lifestyles. Sustainable development in China thus depends on whether solutions can be found to these problems. In considering the prospects of China’s future development, it is im- possible to ignore the agricultural development and migration issues of the country’s past. Through the practice of agriculture, the area inhabited by Han Chinese has expanded to the extent that almost all of the river valleys, coastal areas and oases of China are inhabited by Han agricultural settlements today. These areas are either referred to as being “inland” or “east” and are considered to be “developed zones.” The population growth of the Han brought about by agriculture has forced them to migrate out- wards towards the...

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