Ecological civilization (shengtai wenming 生态文明) has been written into China’s constitution as the ideological framework for the country’s environmental policies, laws and education. It is also increasingly presented not only as a response to environmental degradation in China, but as a vision for our global future. In this article, scholars from the disciplines of media science, anthropology and sinology analyse media representations of eco-civilization in order to explore which values and visions this highly profiled state project actually entails. The article argues that eco-civilization is best understood as a sociotechnical imaginary in which cultural and moral virtues constitute key components that are inseparable from the more well-known technological, judicial, and political goals. The imaginary of eco-civilization seeks to construct a sense of cultural and national continuity, and to place China at the center of the world by invoking its civilization’s more than 2000 years of traditional philosophical heritage as a part of the solution for the planet’s future. It is constructed as a new kind of Communist Party led utopia in which market economy and consumption continue to grow, and where technology and science have solved the basic problems of pollution and environmental degradation.
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