Shifts in Compensation for Environmental Damage: Reflections on China’s New Soil Pollution Law

Mengxing Lu*, M.G. Faure

*Corresponding author for this work

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During the past decades, the deteriorating soil quality has become an urgent environmental issue on China's policy agenda. The enactment of the first national law for addressing soil pollution in 2018 has been regarded as a major legislative and regulatory development of China's environmental law, since it fills the legal void on soil protection. So far, China's Soil Pollution Law has received scant attention. This article presents an analysis of the liability regime for soil pollution created by this newly adopted law from legal and theoretical perspectives. Two historical shifts have been achieved in this law: first, it represents an important change in adopting an integrated regulatory framework for combatting soil contamination instead of a scattering of provisions and rules; second, it represents a significant shift towards an administrative liability regime, distinct from the environmental liability regimes for other types of environmental damage. This article argues also that several unsettled issues within this liability regime may pose challenges to improving soil quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-159
Number of pages24
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Chinese Environmental Law
  • Soil Pollution Law
  • administrative liability
  • civil liability
  • liability for soil pollution
  • Chinese environmental law

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