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Agency Empowerment through the Administrative Litigation Law: Court Enforcement of Pollution Levies in Hubei Province*


The existing literature on China's 1989 Administrative Litigation Law (ALL) has rarely discussed a minor provision that permits administrative agencies to enlist court assistance in enforcing administrative decisions. Focusing on court enforcement of pollution levies, this study examines how and why ALL has been employed so extensively by administrative agencies, environmental protection bureaus (EPBs) in this context. The study is based on interviews with judges, EPB officials and polluters involved in court actions as well as court statistical data from 1992 to 2005 for Hubei province. EPBs' heavy reliance on court enforcement for collecting pollution levies and fines resulted from incentives that encouraged the formation of mutually beneficial relationships between courts and EPBs in the 1990s. Court involvement has enhanced EPBs' enforcement powers, but the courts' engagement in enforcement has neither curtailed EPBs' arbitrary exercise of discretionary power nor induced polluters to reduce waste discharges.

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Randall Peerenboom , China's Long March Toward Rule of Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Benjamin van Rooij , Regulating Land and Pollution in China, Lawmaking, Compliance, and Enforcement; Theory and Cases (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2006), pp. 302–03

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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