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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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Wang Hanbin , “Guanyu zhonghua remin gongheguo xingzheng susongfa (caoan) de shuoming” (“Explanations of the (draft) Administrative Litigation Law of the PRC”), Chinese Law and Government, Vol. 24, No. 3 (1989), pp. 3543

Shui-Yan Tang , Carlos W.H. Lo and Gerald Fryxell , “Enforcement styles, organizational commitment, and enforcement effectiveness: an empirical study of local environmental protection officials in urban China,” Environment and Planning, Vol. 35 (2003), pp. 7594

Peter Hills and Chan S. Man , “Environmental regulation and the industrial sector in China: the role of informal relationships in policy implementation,” Business Strategy and the Environment, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1998), pp. 5370

Benjamin Van Rooij , “Organization and procedure in environmental law enforcement: Sichuan in comparative perspective,” China Information, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2003), pp. 3664

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