Annual Review of Chinese Environmental Law Developments: 2019

Date01 April 2020
I. Policies of the Communist Party
of China
e Communist Party of China (CPC) rea rmed its
emphasis on environmental protection in a decision
adopted by the fourth plenum of its 19th Central Com-
mittee, held in December 2019.1 Part 10 of this decision
specically addresses environmenta l protection under the
topic of Developing a System of Rules for Ecological Civi-
lization. is part contains an introductory paragraph and
four additional paragraphs calling for (1)the most strin-
gent legal rules for environmental protection, (2)rules on
the ecient use of resources, (3)rules on ecolog ical protec-
tion and restoration, and (4)rules on responsibilities and
liabilities. is is a summa ry of experimental measures and
rules adopted in recent years as well a s a plan to further
develop environmental rules in the future.
e CPC and the State Council adopted some general
and specic policy documents on environmental protec-
tion in recent years. Notable examples of these policy
documents are the Integrated Reform Plan for Promot-
ing Ecological Progress jointly issued by the CPC Central
Committee and the State Council on September 21, 2015,2
1. CPC Central Committee, e CPC Central Committee’s Decision on Some
Major Issues Concerning How to Uphold and Improve the System of Socialism
With Chinese Characteristics and Advance the Modernization of China’s System
and Capacity for Governance (adopted on Oct. 31, 2019), P’ D,
Nov. 6, 2019.
2. Integrated Reform Plan for Promoting Ecological Progress (issued by the
CPC Central Committee and the State Council Sept. 21, 2015, eec-
tive Sept. 21, 2015),
tent_2936327.htm (in Chinese), and
and measures to make loca l governmental ocials more
accountable.3 e signicance of the decision of the fourth
plenum for environmental protection is that it makes this
body of policies on environmental protection more sys-
tematic and coherent. In eect, it is more a systematic
restatement of existing environmental policies tha n a proc-
lamation of new policies.
Most policies required in the decision of the fourth
plenum need to be transformed into legal rules for imple-
mentation. Some have been completed, such as the revision
of the Forestry Law and adoption of a Resource Tax Law
discussed below. Some are in the legislative process, such as
the law on national parks and the law on protection of the
Yangtze River Basin.
II. Revision of the Forestry Law
e Standing Committee of the National People’s Con-
gress (NPC) revised the Forestry Law on December 28,
2019.4 e main revisions are outlined below.
A. Differentiated Management
e revised Forestry Law di erentiates more clearly pub-
lic interest forests from commodity forests, each with their
own main functions. Public interest forests are mainly for
ecological purposes and shall be strictly protected. Com-
modity forests are main ly for economic benet and shall be
managed by the operators on their own initiative.
releases/2015/09/22/content_281475195492066.htm (in English) (last
updated Sept. 22, 2015). See also Mingqing You, Annual Review of Chinese
Environmental Law Developments: 2015, 46 ELR 10386 (May 2016).
3. Measures on Accountability of Leading Ocials of the CPC and Govern-
ment for Ecological Environmental Damage (for Trial Implementation)
(published by the General Oce of the CPC Central Committee and the
General Oce of the State Council Aug. 17, 2015, eective Aug. 9, 2015), See also
You, supra note 2.
4. Forestry Law of the People’s Republic of China (adopted by the NPC Stand-
ing Committee Sept. 20, 1984, rst revision Apr. 29, 1998, second revi-
sion Aug, 27, 2009, third revision Dec. 28, 2019, eective July 1, 2020),
by Mingqing You and Haijing Wang
Mingqing You is a Professor of Law at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.
Haijing Wang is a Ph.D. candidate at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.
Authors’ Note: Zhongnan University of Economics and
Law is located in Wuhan, China. This Comment is one
of the outputs of the authors’ research project sponsored
by the National Social Science Fund of China (Project
No. 15BFX181) and the Fundamental Research Funds for
Central Universities administered by Zhongnan Universi-
ty of Economics and Law (Project No. 2722019PY001).
It is the result of independent academic research and
does not necessarily reflect the views of the authors’
funders or affiliations.
Copyright © 2020 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELR®,, 1-800-433-5120.

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