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Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 151; doi:10.3390/su9020151

Seeing the People’s Republic of China through the Eyes of Montesquieu: Why Sino-European Collaboration on Eco City Development Suffers from European Misinterpretations of “Good Governance”

1
Faculty of Technology, Policy & Management, Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD Delft, The Netherlands
2
School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
3
Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA Rotterdam, The Netherlands
4
School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds LS29JT, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Michiel A. Heldeweg
Received: 1 November 2016 / Revised: 20 December 2016 / Accepted: 6 January 2017 / Published: 7 February 2017
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [592 KB, uploaded 7 February 2017]

Abstract

China faces a number of impressive challenges in dealing with climate change: rising energy use, growing emission levels of greenhouse gases, dangerous levels of air pollution over cities and low resilience against flood and drought. Sustainable urbanization has been adopted as a keyword in handling these challenges. The Chinese central government has undertaken a variety of measures, including the launch of large Sino-European programs to learn from ‘developed nations’. In the wake of these partnerships, a great variety of cross-national and cross-city agreements were signed. Sino-European cooperation does not often run as smoothly as initially hoped because of diverging interests, cultural misunderstandings and practical limitations. In the background, a mismatch in normative conceptions Chinese and European participants have of ‘good governance’ plays a role. In this contribution, insights taken from Montesquieu’s ‘The Spirit of Laws’ regarding checks and balances and trias politica (updated to ‘sextas politica’ for the 21st century) are used to comprehend how the exertion of power is distributed and expected to be distributed differently in Chinese than in European administrative traditions. The article will end with conclusions on how European misconceptions of Chinese governance complicate Sino-European collaboration in sustainable urbanization policies. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable urbanization; Sino-European collaboration; Montesquieu; checks and balances; sextas politica sustainable urbanization; Sino-European collaboration; Montesquieu; checks and balances; sextas politica
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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de Jong, M.; Stout, H.; Sun, L. Seeing the People’s Republic of China through the Eyes of Montesquieu: Why Sino-European Collaboration on Eco City Development Suffers from European Misinterpretations of “Good Governance”. Sustainability 2017, 9, 151.

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