Sustainability, space and supply chains: The role of bamboo in Anji County, China
Journal of Rural Studies
Crown Copyright © 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 3 June 2018 in compliance with publisher policy.
Rural modernization in China has been profound as the countryside has moved from agricultural production to industrial and tertiary industry development. Within rural areas these changes can have enormous significance for how we think about their sustainability. One rural county that vividly illustrates both the challenges and opportunities of rural development is Anji in Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Anji is held up as a model of rural sustainable development. In this paper we analyse the basis for the sustainability claims made of Anji and to do so, we examine how the production and processing of bamboo materials transformed Anji into a place-specific bamboo-making locality that is lauded for its sustainability. We analyse how thinking on a place and a material (bamboo) come together to reinforce thinking on sustainability in rural China. We then go on to critically question the politico-economic arrangements that construct Anji and bamboo as models of sustainability. We argue that whilst both Anji and bamboo do have notable features that characterise them as sustainable and together can make an even more persuasive case for rural sustainability, a more detailed analysis allows us to uncover the deep-rooted tensions that persist in Chinese rural development between environmental protection and economic growth. The paper draws on a mixture of published and unpublished material to provide a detailed examination of the ways in which bamboo supply chains operate within and through Anji. The paper concludes that local constructions of sustainability are driven by economic rather than environmental values.
Our thanks to the Cardiff University President’s Research Scholarship (2011–2014). We wish to thank Jin Wei and Wang On Guo for assistance with data collection in Anji, China and Mr Richard Bedford for graphic assistance. We also thank two reviewers for providing insightful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 49, pp. 128 - 139