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Abstract

Deliberative governance of environmental issues indicates that environmental governance has undergone a transformation from relying on government authority for solutions to reaching consensus among participants. This can be regarded as an important strategy for the structural transformation of China’s environmental governance. In this paper, the practices of environmental deliberation in China are classified into four types by the attributes of environmental issues and the relationships of participants as: response-, autonomy-, consultation-, and supervision-based. On the basis of the government’s interests and motives to engage in environmental deliberations, we analyze its practice orientations from five perspectives: scope of issues, functions, participants, procedures, and methods. Then we point out that environmental deliberations have both public and instrumental governance motives, but the governance motive, which aims for governance effectiveness and social control, is more conspicuous. We further conclude that the value pursuit of deliberative democracy for public reasons is to some extent replaced by an instrumental deliberative motive that intends to address specific environmental issues, standardize public participation orderliness, safeguard social harmony and stability, strengthen organizational functions, provide consultation on environmental policies, and promote the implementation of those policies.

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