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date: 25 March 2019

Natural Hazards Governance in China

Summary and Keywords

China is a vast country frequently impacted by multiple natural hazards. All natural disasters have been reported in China, except volcanic eruptions. Almost every region in China is threatened by at least one type of natural hazard, and the rural areas are most vulnerable, with fewer resources and less developed disaster protective measures as well as lower levels of preparedness.

In the first 30 years since its establishment in 1949, the Chinese government, hindered by resource constraints, encouraged local communities to be responsible for disaster response. As the country’s economy grew exponentially, after it opened its doors to the world in the late 1970s, China’s natural hazard governance (NHG) system quickly became more top-down, with the government leading the way for planning, coordinating, directing, and allocating resources for natural disasters.

The development of China’s NHG is linked to the evolution of its ideologies, legislation system, and organizational structures for disaster management. Ancient China’s disaster management was undergirded by the ideology that one accepted one’s fate passively in the event of a disaster. In contemporary China, three ideologies guide the NHG: (a) passive disaster relief characterized by “help oneself by engaging in production”; (b) active disaster management characterized by “emergency management”; and (c) optimized disaster risk governance characterized by “multiple stakeholders working together.” Meanwhile, the NHG legislation and systems have become more open, transparent, and integrated one over time.

Evidenced by the unprecedented growth of social organizations and private companies that engaged in disaster-related activities during and after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, discussions on integrating bottom-up capacities with the top-down system have increased recently. The Chinese government started purchasing services from social organizations and engaging them in building disaster model communities (officially known as “Comprehensive Disaster Reduction Demonstration Communities”) in recent years. These are, potentially, two specific ways for social organizations to contribute to China’s NHG system development.

Keywords: China, natural disaster, natural hazard governance, top-down, bottom-up


Governance is the art of steering societies and organizations (Van Niekerk, 2015). The concept of governance evolved in part from the recognition that functions that formerly may have been carried out by public entities are now frequently dispersed among diverse sets of actors that include not only governmental institutions but also private sector and civil society entities (Tierney, 2012). Increasingly, there are different ways in which governments, the private sector, and all individuals and institutions in a society can organize themselves to manage their common affairs (UNDP, 2010). Governance, therefore, is not about focusing only on the government—political authorities—but instead looks more broadly at how decisions are made and resources managed, and at the multiple actors who participate in the process (Norman, Cook, & Cohen, 2015). In disaster research, effective risk governance requires sufficient levels of capacity and resources made available to prevent, prepare for, manage, and recover from disasters, and entails mechanisms and processes for citizens to articulate their interests and exercise their legal rights and obligations (UNDP, 2013). Disaster governance refers to both formal and informal processes of collective efforts to address or manage natural hazards. Disaster governance consists of the interrelated sets of norms, organizational and institutional actors, and practices (spanning pre-disaster, trans-disaster, and post-disaster periods) that are designed to reduce the impacts and losses associated with disasters (Tierney, 2012).

In China, the definition of governance emphasizes interactive processes such as cooperation, consultation, and partnership development in addressing public affairs between government and civil society (Zhu, 2010). The concept of governance (zhi li; 治理‎) was first officially proposed during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (zhong guo gong chan dang di shi ba jie zhong yang wei yuan hui di san ci quan ti hui yi; 中国共产党第十八届中央委员会第三次全体会议‎) in 2013. One of its overall goals was to “comprehensively intensify reform” (quan mian shen hua gai ge; 全面深化改革‎) at the national level through the “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Some Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening the Reform” (zhong gong zhong yang guan yu quan mian shen hua gai ge ruo gan zhong da wen ti de jue ding; 中共中央关于全面深化改革若干重大问题的决定‎)” (Chen & Yang, 2016). The idea of governance was widely discussed and applied to “public emergencies,” which particularly included the following four categories: natural disasters, human-made disasters, public health emergencies, and public security incidents. An integrated governance system for natural disaster risks is a recent phenomenon in China (Zhang, 2015). This is evidenced by the change in the central government’s role—from managing (guan li; 管理‎) to coordinating (xie tiao; 协调‎)—since the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake and the 2010 Lushan earthquake. This shift witnessed the unprecedented growth of social bodies such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private companies that are engaged in disaster-related activities and the establishment of comprehensive disaster risk reduction demonstration communities to promote community-based disaster resilience (Shi, 2011; Yan, 2013; Zhang, 2015). These changes have empowered local communities to participate in disaster-related affairs. It became apparent to the Chinese government that there is a need to build natural hazard governance (NHG) systems, which would integrate these bottom-up forces with the currently top-down disaster management mechanism in China.

This article reviews the evolution of China’s current top-down NHG system (see Figure 1), which is currently finding ways to integrate the bottom-up natural disaster risk reduction elements. The central government is in charge of planning, coordinating, and allocating resources before, during, and after disasters in China. In comparison, other stakeholders, such as social and business sectors and local communities, have fewer opportunities to participate in the disaster governance process. By critically reviewing the salient literature and documents on natural disaster governance published in China and internationally, this article provides an unprecedented overview of the evolution of China’s disaster management ethos and the development of its disaster legislation system and organizational structures. Recommendations to integrate social, business, and local communities into disaster governance will also be discussed. This article concludes by summarizing China’s progress in advancing its disaster governance ability and the future work that is needed.

Natural Hazards Governance in ChinaClick to view larger

Figure 1. Current NHG system of China.

Natural Disasters in China

China is one of the world’s countries most-affected by natural disasters, in view of the high frequency of hazards, multiple natural hazards, significant regional differentiation, and severe disaster losses (Shi, Liu, Yao, Tang, & Yang, 2007). Based on available records since the 18th century, disasters and famines have occurred every year in China, and floods, drought, and earthquakes are considered the most destructive (Shi & Liao, 2002). Apart from volcanic eruptions, all other types of natural disasters have been reported in China’s history (Shi, Xu, & Wang, 2016). Floods, droughts, earthquakes, typhoons, and landslides/mudslides account for some 80% to 90% of the natural disaster losses each year (Shi et al., 2007). An estimated 450 million people were affected by floods, storms (e.g., typhoons), and droughts between 1900 and 2011 (Chen, Luo, & Pan, 2013). In view of the high frequency of natural disasters and the resulting huge economic losses, it is no wonder China has been considered “the land of famines” (Deng, 2012, p. 7).

Situated at the junction of the Pacific rim seismic belt and the Mediterranean-Himalayan seismic belt, China is one of the countries with the most intense continental seismic activity, which is characterized by high frequency, wide distribution, great intensity, shallow seismic focus, and clear regional differences (Xu, Liu, Xu, Wang, Liu, & Shi, 2016). The western regions are the most earthquake-prone, including Xinjiang, Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces. The rain belt in China stretches roughly in the east-west direction and advances from the south to the north or vice versa during the rainy season, which is largely parallel to the main streams of major rivers (Shi et al., 2016). Historically, major floods in China mostly occurred in the middle and lower reaches of the seven large rivers in China, namely, Yangtze River, Yellow River, Huai River, Hai River, Pearl River, Liao River, and Songhua River, which mainly affected the densely populated eastern and south-eastern part of the country (Du et al., 2016). China has a complicated, diversified and unstable weather system, resulting in frequent and widespread meteorological hazards such as droughts, typhoons and hailstorms (Shi et al., 2016). Affected by the continental climate, inland regions in central and western China are dry year round; thus, droughts often occur in these regions, including Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Hebei, Henan, Anhui, East Sichuan, and Chongqing provinces, China’s agricultural zones (Ye, Jia, Lei, & Shi, 2016). Typhoons affect the vast coastal areas, including nearly 20 provinces and directly controlled municipalities and autonomous regions in eastern China. The most frequently affected provinces are Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Liaoning, in that order (Fang, Zhong, & Shi, 2016).

Almost every region in China is threatened by at least one type of natural hazard. Unfortunately, the most affected areas, either in terms of frequency or severity, are the rural areas where there is lower economic development. Most areas in China that are frequently affected by earthquakes, floods, and droughts are inhabited by farmers and minority groups, who have lower disaster protective measures and preparedness (Xie, 2015). Moreover, post-disaster response and reconstruction in these areas require more economic and human resources, in view of their socio-economic deficiencies.

Evolution of the Top-Down NHG System in China

China currently has a well-developed top-down disaster management system. Simply put, both central and local governments play leading roles in planning, coordinating, directing, and allocating resources for disaster management. Such a top-down system has the potential to efficiently mobilize urgently needed resources across the country in the event of a large-scale disaster, such as the fateful 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. In recent years, in view of the increasing number of social organizations that have emerged during and after the Wenchuan earthquake, some Chinese scholars have begun to discuss the possibility of integrating the bottom-up local strength with the top-down system, thereby building a government-led NHG system that encourages involvement by multiple stakeholders (Jin & Zhang, 2016; Lin & Zhan, 2010, 2011; Zhang, 2015). However, in a country with a well-established and long-standing top-down management structure, such an integration is a colossal step that requires time. China’s current disaster management system has been built through countless natural disasters and has been tried and tested over time. There is little doubt that the lessons learned in China, which continues to evolve and change, could be valuable for the rest of the world.

Evolution of Ideologies for Disaster Management in China

In ancient China, famine and starvation wreaked havoc on daily living, and a large number of victims could destabilize an imperial regime. Thus, guaranteeing agricultural production and food supply before and after a natural disaster was crucial for Chinese emperors in the past. Influenced by Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist ideologies, there were two ways of alleviating disaster impact: the positive and the passive. Positive disaster prevention included prioritizing agricultural production, storing grain, building large-scale water conservancy projects, and so on before a disaster. Passive disaster relief included distributing grains, providing monetary assistance, providing tax exemptions, and so on for the victims of a disaster (Xie, 2015). Although ancient China had developed preliminary measures to handle disasters, the Chinese often accepted their fate in the event of a disaster (ting tian you ming; 听天由命‎). In contemporary China, there are three important disaster management strategies, namely, (a) passive disaster relief characterized by “help oneself by engaging in production”; (b) active disaster management characterized by “emergency management”; and (c) optimized disaster risk governance characterized by “multiple stakeholders working together.” These are further elaborated.

Disaster Relief Ideology: The Belief in Fate, Self-Reliance, and Mutual Help

The earliest disaster relief ideology is associated with the fear of nature. The Chinese believed that there is a heaven god (tian di; 天帝‎) that rules everything and grants people with good harvests and favorable living conditions. This ideology was called “tian ming zhu yi rang mi lun” (天命主义禳弭论‎), or “rang mi” (禳弭‎), in short, which involved praying to the heaven god to reduce disasters and grant rich harvests by offering sacrifices and so on. Although each dynasty took precautionary measures such as building large water conservancy projects, distributing food and medicine, and so on to alleviate the impact of the disaster, “rang mi” continued to be the predominant disaster relief ideology in ancient China (before the mid-19th century) and in the Republic of China (1912–1949) (Deng, 2012).

In 1949, the new China was inundated by huge challenges of building its political and administrative institutes, infrastructure, and social services, after many years of conflict since the 1930s, which included the Japanese invasion and the Chinese civil war. The Chinese government promulgated the ethos of thrifty disaster reduction (jie yue jian zai; 节约减灾‎), disaster relief through production (sheng chan jiu zai; 生产救灾‎), civic mutual aid (qun zhong hu zhu; 群众互助‎) and work in lieu of aid (yi gong dai zhen; 以工代赈‎) as guidelines for disaster relief. In view of its scarce resources, the young government put thrift in first place, encouraged the disaster-hit people to help one another, and adopted workfare to resolve poverty and starvation in the aftermath of the disasters (Jiang, 2014; Xie, 2015). The “work in lieu of aid” policy is a landmark policy that combined disaster relief and prevention by organizing and providing the necessary monetary or food support for the disaster victims for reconstructing their homes and involving disaster victims in disaster prevention projects. This policy not only provided work opportunities for the survivors but also improved local disaster prevention ability (Luo, 2009).

Since then, though disaster relief policies were continually being revised, disaster relief through production (sheng chan jiu zai; 生产救灾‎), namely, self-reliance, was invariably a core ideological component. During the first National Civil Affair Conference (NCAC; quan guo min zheng hui yi; 全国民政会议‎) in 1951, the disaster relief guideline of “self-dependence through production, thrift, mutual aid and necessary assistance supplemented by the government” (fu zhi yi zheng fu bi yao de jiu ji; 辅之以政府必要的救济‎) was highlighted. From 1958 to 1984, people’s communes (ren min gong she; 人民公社‎) were formed in rural China. Communes were the largest collative units, which were further divided into production brigades and production teams. In the commune, everything was shared. Everything originally owned by the households such as livestock, grains, and other food items were also contributed to the commune. Accordingly, “collective unities” were added to the new government guideline in 1963. The 1951 guideline “relief from the government” was revised to “relief from the country” in 1963, which highlighted the Chinese government’s realization that disaster relief work required the support of the society as a whole, not just the singular effort of the government (Li, 2008). After more than 30 years of development, the 1983 guideline, released during the 8th NCAC, added two new elements: “mutual aid and mutual relief (hu zhu hu ji; 互助互济‎)” and “support from the country where necessary (guo jia fu chi; 国家扶持‎).” It is noteworthy that, until the 1970s, community participation in disaster response and recovery was extremely high and impressive.

Living conditions in rural China had largely improved by then, and rural people were able to help one another instead of constantly seeking help from the government for disaster relief (Jiang, 2009). Furthermore, highlighting “relief from the country where necessary” was a pivotal change in that the Chinese government gradually realized that providing disaster relief alone could not alleviate the poverty of the survivors. Proper development of policy, technology, and the economy were crucial for sustainable development and poverty alleviation (Li, 2008). Such policy shifts played an important role in combining “poverty alleviation” and “disaster reduction” policies from 1985. Meanwhile, the “mutual aid and mutual relief” policy provides a political foundation for the “counterpart aid” policy employed for reconstruction in the aftermath of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, where provinces that were not affected were responsible in helping out specific counties affected by the fateful earthquake (Xie, 2015; Yang, 2011).

There is no essential change in the disaster relief guidelines from 1949 to 1983, other than the addition of “support from the country where necessary” (Jiang, 2014). These policies focused more on relief measures rather than taking pre-emptive action such as long-term disaster preparation, mitigation, and well-planned reconstruction and recovery, which are hallmarks of modern disaster management systems.

Disaster Management Ideology: Central to Local Governments

China started adopting its disaster management ideology, particularly the concept of disaster risk reduction (DRR) after the inception of the China National Committee of International Decade for Nature Disaster Reduction (CNC of IDNDR) (zhong guo guo ji jian zai shi nian wei yuan hui; 中国国际减灾十年委员会‎) in 1989. In 1993, Prime Minister Li Peng stated in a government report that “it is necessary to work thoughtfully on disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction” (SCPRC, 2006). This was the first time the concept of DRR was presented in an official report (Cai, Liu, & Sun, 2010). In 1998, with the release of the first specific national disaster reduction plan (1998–2010) (zhong hua ren min gong he guo jian zai gui hua 1998–2010; 中华人民共和国减灾规划‎1998–2010), DRR was updated as one of the national development plans highlighting China’s efforts in shifting from the relief-focused disaster response system to a scientific, normalized, and institutionalized disaster management system that integrates pre-disaster mitigation and post-disaster recovery (Cui, 2011; Jiang, 2009; Xie, 2015).

Before the formation of the current disaster management system in China, the management ideology had been reflected in earlier policies. Unlike the modern disaster management ideology emphasizing the four phases of the disaster management cycle (mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery), China’s former disaster management ideology paid more attention to inter-governmental collaboration that was characterized by hierarchical management (fen ji guan li; 分级管理‎), wherein relevant relief tasks and funding were undertaken by various layers of government. Prior to 1980, the central government was responsible for allocating relief funds to localities affected by natural disasters, as local governments had little power to raise revenue and most of their income was disbursed by the central government. In the 1980s and early 1990s, local governments gradually assumed control of their own revenue and expenditure. However, most disaster relief funds continued to be paid out by the central government (Chen, 2016). From 1983 to 1994, 85% of the disaster relief funds used in Anhui Province were allocated by the central government, while only about 15% came from the provincial and county-level governments (Sun, 2004, p. 192). In 1994, the hierarchical management policy was proposed during the 10th NCAC. This led to the sharing of responsibility for setting up disaster relief funds at the levels of province, city, and county governments (Hu, 2013). Local governments began to shoulder about 30% of China’s total fiscal expenditure on disaster management, which was much higher than earlier figures, to ease the central government’s burden. However, the central government continued to foot the major part of the disaster relief bill (Chen, 2016).

China’s management ideology was further influenced by the 2003 SARS epidemic, which started in the Chinese province of Guangdong, in November 2002, and spread to Hong Kong and other parts of the mainland China. By August 7, 2003, the disease had spread to 29 countries and 3 regions, with a cumulative total of 8,422 cases and 916 deaths (Siu & Wong, 2004). Estimated costs of US$8.5bn in mainland China, US$4.3bn in Canada, and US$1.3bn in Hong Kong were reported (Keogh-Brown & Smith, 2008). The Chinese government learned from responding to SARS that it cannot focus only on emergency response stage, but it also needs to attend to the three other aspects of disaster management: disaster preparedness and prevention, monitoring and early warning, rehabilitation and reconstruction (Zhang, 2012). It also learned the importance of incorporating the experiences from the international community. Since then, China gradually established an emergency management system called “one plan, three systems” (yi an san zhi; 一案三制‎). This comprised an emergency plan supported by an emergency response system, emergency response mechanisms, and emergency response laws (Zhang & Tong, 2016). This new system integrated emergency responses to natural disasters, accidents, epidemics, and social riots, and it articulated the respective roles and responsibilities of national, provincial, municipal, and county-level agencies (Zhang, 2015). This system was further updated after a series of recent natural disasters such as the 2008 southern snowstorm, the Wenchuan earthquake, the 2010 Yushu earthquake, and the Zhouqu mudslide. The key changes included delineating the responsibilities of the central and local governments and other administrative sectors; extending the emergency life cycle by emphasizing the other three stages—preparation and prevention, monitoring and early warning, and rehabilitation and reconstruction—and relief and rescue; and increasing the efficiency of emergency response operations (Zhang, 2012). However, the new system has yet to produce a unified command and coordination structure to deal with large-scale disasters. Rather, the responsibility of administering and coordinating activities pertaining to public emergencies falls on the shoulders of various leading departments, ministries, and agencies (Zhang, Lu, Hu, & Lau, 2015). To enhance the emergency management system, the State Council (SC; guo wu yuan; 国务院‎) established an emergency management office (EMO; ying ji guan li ban gong shi; 应急管理办公室‎) in 2006 to coordinate emergencies at a national level. However, as the EMO was a new institute, it was not as effective as intended during the 2008 Wenchuan and 2013 Lushan earthquakes, since there was little interagency collaboration (Zhang, 2015). Furthermore, the current emergency system is activated during rare public safety affair occurrences, such as SARS. In view of the frequently occurring large-scale disasters in China, such as the southern snowstorm in January 2008 and the Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008, the Yushu earthquake in April 2010 and the Zhouqu mudslide in August 2010, it is uncertain whether this “one plan three systems” emergency management system can adequately handle the frequent emergencies that China experiences. Although these emergencies are no longer rare events in terms of high frequency, a key challenge for China is to tackle not so much the emergency events per se, but the risks posed by those events before and after they occur (Zhang & Tong, 2009). An integrated system is needed to govern these emerging risks, and the engagement of multiple stakeholders is required.

Disaster Risk Governance Ideology: Emergence of Social Organizations

The participation of social and business organizations during and after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake prefaces the development of China’s disaster risk governance system. It was apparent during the Wenchuan earthquake that the Chinese government could not fully meet the heterogeneous demands of all disaster victims, although it had the capability and resources to do so. Participation of the social and commercial sectors can provide valuable additional help (Zhang & Tong, 2016). Furthermore, an effective cooperative mechanism between the government and non-governmental organizations, particularly social and business organizations, is required for disaster risk governance to develop sustainably (Lu & Xu, 2014; Zhang, 2012; Zhang, Yi, & Zhao, 2013).

During the Wenchuan earthquake, social organizations provided a wide range of community services to the disaster survivors, from constructing temporary resettlement sites to delivering food, water, clothing, and other necessities. The government is usually capable of providing emergency relief and rebuilding infrastructure facilities rapidly, but it often fails to engage affected communities and address long-term recovery issues (Chen, 2016). However, given that these social organizations were new and lacked professionalism and regulation, many social organizations swarmed into the quake-hit areas with little coordination, along with many thoughtful individuals. This added extra pressure to the governments’ rescue efforts (Lu & Xu, 2014). To strengthen the orderly participation of social organizations and other civil forces, the MCA revised the National Natural Disaster Relief Plan (guo jia zi ran zai hai ying ji yu an; 国家自然灾害应急预案‎) in 2016, which initially had been issued in 2005 and revised in 2011. The new plan clearly regulates social organizations’ actions according to the emergency response grades (I–IV) published by the government (SCPRC, 2016). Response grades are launched based on death toll, the population’s relocation needs, destroyed houses, and the need for food and water, with grade I representing the most urgent. The new plan provides a legislative basis for the Chinese government to regulate its cooperation with social organizations.

In addition, commercial organizations such as those dealing with lifeline supplies or services, such as the China Southern Power Grid Company, China Railways, and communication enterprises (e.g., Tencent, Baidu, and Sina) also assumed active roles in disaster relief and reconstruction operations in the aftermath of the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the Lushan earthquake in 2013, and the Ludian earthquake in 2014. These companies can provide resources that disaster-hit areas need in the short and long term. However, unlike social organizations that are primarily driven by humanitarian and social motivations, these companies are motivated by commercial interests (Chen, 2016). The Government Procurement Law of the People’s Republic of China (zhong hua ren min gong he guo zheng fu cai gou fa; 中华人民共和国政府采购法‎) came into effect in 2003 to improve the provision of needed materials and services by companies. However, most companies, especially state-owned ones, regard emergency missions as mandatory political assignments, rather than a part of their regular business operations, based on cost-effectiveness principles (Chen, 2016). The current potential of commercial organizations could be further tapped and integrated to strengthen China’s disaster risk governance capacity.

China has also enhanced its disaster risk governance in local communities and has made remarkable achievements. The MCA issued the National Integrated Disaster Mitigation Model Communities Standards (quan guo zong he jian zai shi fan she qu chuang jian biao zhun; 全国综合减灾示范社区创建标准‎) in 2007. In 2008, the first 100 model communities, officially known as the “Comprehensive Disaster Reduction Demonstration Communities” (CDRDC) were nominated. At the end of 2016, there were 9,562 CDRDCs in China. The country has been striving since the beginning of the 21st century to build resilient cities in the face of more natural disasters. The initiatives started with the building of the countrywide sponge city for effective rainwater control and sustainable use. A sponge city refers to sustainable urban development including flood control, water conservation, water quality improvement, and natural eco-system protection. This initiative envisions a city with a water system that operates like a sponge to absorb, store, infiltrate, and purify rainwater and release it for reuse when needed (Li & Zhai, 2017). Even though the concept of the sponge city was proposed in 2003 in China, it was implemented only after a series of heavy rains in Guangzhong in 2010, in Nanjing in 2011, and in Beijing in 2012 (Yang & Lin, 2015). In 2015, there were more than 100 cities that were announced as sponge cities in China (Wu et al., 2016). However, the resilience of Chinese cities to other types of natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes) remains limited (Yang, Huang, Cui, & Xiao, 2016). In 2010, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) launched the “Making Cities Resilient” campaign, dedicated to helping cities around the world to become more resilient to disasters. Currently, four cities in China have become members of the “Global 100 Resilience Cities,” namely, Deyang in Sichuan Province, Huangshi in Hubei Province, and Yiwu and Haiyan in Zhejiang Province (Chen & Li, 2017).

Table 1. Milestones in the Evolution of the Chinese Disaster Legislation Systems





The Third Plenary Session of 11th Central Committee

Chinese: 十一届三中全会‎;

Pinyin: shi yi jie san zhong quan hui

Summarized former mistakes and emphasized the use of scientific methods to cope with disasters.

Began opening its doors to the international community.


The Consultation on Acceptance of Aid from the United Nations Disaster Relief Office

Chinese: 关于接受联合国救灾署援助的请示‎

Pinyin: guan yu jie shou lian he guo jiu zai shu yuan zhu de qing shi

The Chinese government approved the acceptance of international humanitarian aid in disaster situations for the first time.


The Disaster Reduction Plan of the People’s Republic of China (1998–2010)

Chinese: 中华人民共和国减灾规划‎1998–2010

Pinyin: zhong hua ren min gong he guo jian zai gui hua 1998–2010

China’s first specialized disaster reduction plan.

Highlighted the importance of international cooperation and exchanges.

Indicated China’s disaster management work has become standard, systematic, and integrated.


The Regulation on the Urgent Handling of public Health Emergencies

Chinese: 突发公共事件应急条例‎

Pinyin: tu fa gong shi jian ying ji tiao li

Provided detailed guidelines for reporting and information release in emergency situations and served as a template for emergency plans in other domains.


The Master State Plan for Rapid Response to Public Emergencies

Chinese: 国家突发公共事件总体应急预案‎

Pinyin: guo jia tu fa gong shi jian zong ti ying ji yu an

Detailed the division of responsibility and operating procedures in the government’s response to four types of emergencies (natural disasters, man-made disasters, public health emergencies, and public security incidents) and four different levels of severity (grades I–IV, highest to lowest).

Highlighted the public’s right to know and supervised emergency management and its development.


The National 11th Five Year Plan on Comprehensive Disaster Reduction (2006–2010)

Chinese: 国家综合减灾“十一五”规划‎ (2006–2010)

Pinyin: guo jia zong he jian zai shi yi wu gui hua (2006–2010)

Emphasized the integrated capability of disaster reduction.

Clarified the principles of disaster reduction in China.

Heightened the need for international exchange and cooperation.


Emergency Response Law of the People’s Republic of China

Chinese: 中华人民共和国突发事件应对法‎

Pinyin: zhong hua ren min gong he guo tu fa shi jian ying dui fa

The nation’s first law on systematic emergency responses.

Emphasized the need to increase the transparency of disaster information.


Disaster Relief Ordinance


Pinyin: zi ran zai hai jiu zhu tiao li

Regulated the disaster relief work process and improved its efficiency.

The Development of China’s Disaster Management Legislation System

China’s disaster legislation system significantly improved after its economic reforms (gaige kaifang; 改革开放‎) in 1978 by increasing efforts to streamline relevant disaster management laws and regulations. Table 1 highlights the major events and milestones in its development. Figure 2 indicates the major disasters and their impact in the development of China’s NHG system.

Natural Hazards Governance in ChinaClick to view larger

Figure 2. Major disasters and their influence on the development of NHG of China.

Opening Its Doors to the World in Risk Governance

Founded in 1949, the Peoples’ Republic of China adopted a closed-door policy until the late 1970s. When China experienced severe floods and droughts, such as the Great Chinese Famine (1958–1961) and the horrific 1976 Tangshan earthquake in Hebei province, unsurprisingly, it rejected international humanitarian aid. After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee in 1978, China began to open its doors to the international community, and changes began to take place in the disaster management arena, as within other spheres such as the economic and academic domains. During this period, the Chinese government reflected on its previous missteps and decided to incorporate scientific measures in disaster management (Jiang, 2009). In 1980, the State Council (SC) of the Chinese government approved its policy on “The Consultation on Acceptance of Aid from the United Nations (UN) Disaster Relief Office.” This was an important milestone for China—opening up to the international community on disaster relief policies. When China experienced one of the most severe floods in the north and drought in the south at the same time (nan lao bei han; 南涝北旱‎) in early 1981, it historically opened its doors to accepting substantial aid from the UN and foreign governments in various forms. However, China narrowed the channel and scope of international assistance during the severe flooding in Sichuan Province in the fall of 1981 and announced that only material donations and financial aid from international communities (religious organizations were excluded) would be accepted. As well, it was clearly stipulated that foreign donors were not allowed to visit the disaster affected areas (Kang, 2015), and international communities could only donate disaster relief materials through UN agencies for better coordination (HPRC, 2009). However, although China regulated its foreign aid policy, its doors remained open.

In 1987, the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation (MFTEC; dui wai jing mao bu; 对外经贸部‎), which was incorporated into the Ministry of Commerce (MC) in 2003, suggested to the SC that its principles on foreign aid policy be revised so that it could ask for aid from international partners proactively instead of receiving it passively. After the Daxing’anling wildfire broke out in the same year, the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) requested assistance from the international community for the first time and established a working group to accept and coordinate foreign aid and donations (Kang, 2015; Sun, 2004; Xie, 2015).

A greater effort to open up to the world was made by China after the severe Huadong flooding (hua dong da hong shui; 华东大洪水‎) in 1991, in which thousands of people were killed and millions left homeless. Through the CNC of IDNDR, the Chinese government made its first formal appeal directly to UN agencies and the governments of all nations and international communities, for relief aid (Kang, 2015). This was the first time that China initiated donation activities within the country and overseas simultaneously (Han, 2011). Since then, China has gradually opened its doors to overseas disaster aid, including international rescue and medical teams; material and monetary donations; and technical support from Japan, South Korea, the United States, and several other countries during the 1998 China floods and the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

In addition to receiving international aid, China turned to the international community to improve its disaster plans and policies. Funded and supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), China’s first “Disaster Reduction Plan of the People’s Republic of China (1998–2010)” was issued in 1998 (Thompson & Freeman, 2009). This plan highlighted the importance of international cooperation and exchange. However, the country’s commitment to opening up focused mainly on the exchange of technology and experience in disaster prevention and reduction (Kang, 2015) before the turn of the millennium. There was little effort made to promote transparency, such as freely disseminating disaster information abroad without the approval of administrative departments. China’s determination to increase its openness to the international community was augmented in its National 11th Five Year Plan on Comprehensive Disaster Reduction (2006–2010) in 2006. This dovetailed with the Chinese government’s commitment to promote international exchange and cooperation in implementing the Hyogo framework for action 2005–2015 (SCPRC, 2007).

Increasing Transparency in Risk Governance

China has gradually made progress in improving its transparency to the public. During the widespread outbreak of SARS in 2003, the Chinese government realized the importance of timely epidemic information disclosure to the public. A few months after the SARS outbreak, it issued the “Regulation on the Urgent Handling of Public Health Emergencies,” providing detailed guidelines for reporting and information release in emergency situations. This requires the central and local governments to release accurate and comprehensive emergency information to the public in time (SCPRC, 2003). In 2006, the “Master State Plan for Rapid Response to Public Emergencies” was issued. This comprehensive crisis response plan highlighted the public’s right to know and supervise emergency management. Relevant governmental agencies are expected to offer precise and comprehensive information to the public through various media about disasters and their developments, processes of emergency response work, and so on (SCPRC, 2006). In the same year, the SC published the public emergencies response report, which critically analyzed the country’s emergency work. This was the first time that China revealed its emergency work to the public (Zhou, 2017).

In 2007, one year after showing its commitment to international collaboration, China issued its first national law on emergency responses, namely, the “Emergency Response Law of the People’s Republic of China.” This was a major milestone of systemic emergency management in China (Bai, 2014), where the Chinese government resolutely pledged to release information on the development of any emergency event to the public in an accurate and timely manner (SCPRC, 2007).

Building an Integrated Legislation System

Governing one of the most natural-disaster-prone countries in the world, the Chinese government has made tremendous efforts to reduce disaster risk since its foundation in 1949. However, due to economic and political constraints, those early efforts were limited. Buildings codes in China before 1974 are a case in point. In regions where seismic intensity was deemed to be VIII or lower, general civil structures (e.g., residential buildings) took few seismic fortification measures (Zhang et al., 2013). As the seismic intensity in Tangshan city was VI (Liu, Housner, Xie, & He, 2002), it was not required to implement earthquake fortification measures. Thus, when the 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the city in 1976, Tangshan was utterly defenseless. The urban and rural building destruction rates were as high as 96% and 91%, respectively (Han, Xu, Liu, & Shi, 2013). Based on the lessons learned in subsequent earthquakes, the seismic design codes for buildings were revised and updated in 1978, 1989, and 2008 (Zhang et al., 2013), and a series of laws and regulations related to seismic hazards were implemented over time.

Besides earthquake hazards, China has made significant progress in developing its legislation system for other natural hazards by building a comprehensive disaster management system. By the end of 2011, there were 799 laws and regulations in place in the country for natural disaster prevention and for mitigation of geological disasters, meteorological disasters, floods, droughts, marine disasters, and so on. From 1976 to 2011, China issued about 22 laws and regulations related to managing earthquakes and meteorological and biological disasters each year (Zhou, Li, & Wu, 2013). Notably, China has built a relatively comprehensive legislation system for earthquakes, followed by meteorological and biological disasters. In comparison, the development of legislations for marine disasters and other geological disasters such as landslides and mudslides are currently less developed.

The current Chinese laws and regulations in disaster prevention and mitigation are mainly “single” disaster prevention and are found in different disaster management departments (Yi, Ge, Zhao, Zhou, & Gao, 2012). China has been attempting to build an integrated disaster management system for all types of disasters at the central and local level. Based on the lessons learned from the 2003 SARS outbreak, the “Regulation on the Urgent Handling of Public Health Emergencies” emphasized the need for various stakeholders from the environmental, safety, health, and security sectors to work together. In the “Master State Plan for Rapid Response to Public Emergencies,” four types of emergencies (natural disasters, human-made disasters, public health emergencies, and public security incidents) were jointly considered according to the four different levels of severity (I–IV grades). In accordance with the “Emergency Response Law of the People’s Republic of China” issued in 2007, China began to establish its own framework of emergency planning. Since then, based on this framework, China has started to build up various emergency plans for the four types of emergencies at different levels of government (Bai, 2014). For the disaster relief work, the “Disaster Relief Ordinance,” issued by MCA in 2010, clearly elaborated the process of helping victims after a natural disaster impact (SCPRC, 2010).

Formation of Current Disaster Management Organizations

Over time, the Chinese government has built natural disaster relief administrative agencies, coordinating agencies and “single” or specific disaster response agencies.

Natural Disaster Relief Administrative Agencies

At the national level, the main administrative agency is the MCA, which plays a pivotal role in coordinating the work of different sectors for routine disaster relief, disaster prevention, and mitigation and recovery. As indicted in Figure 3, the Social Division (SD; she hui si; 社会司‎) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA; nei wu bu; 内务部‎), the predecessor of the SC when China was newly founded, was responsible for disaster relief and other disaster-related affairs. Through several institutional restructures in 1955, 1978, and 1998, the Disaster Relief Department (DRD; jiu zai si; 救灾司‎) of the MCA assumed responsibility for disaster-related affairs. Specifically, this included the design and implementation of disaster and social relief laws and regulations; collection, evaluation, and release of information; allocation of relief fund and emergency resources; evacuation and resettlement of victims; undertaking international disaster reduction activities, and so on (Yi et al., 2012).

National Coordinating Agencies

There are currently three key national coordinating agencies.

  • Emergency Management Office of the State Council (EMO; guo wu yuan ying ji guan li ban gong shi; 国务院应急管理办公室‎)

The EMO was established in 2006 to coordinate affairs pertaining to disasters during the emergency stage, while hazard monitoring, prediction, and analysis were the responsibility of relevant departments for specific disasters. The EMO at the central and local level has the authority to coordinate at the same level as the MCA, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS; an quan jian guan zong ju; 安全监管总局‎), Ministry of Public Security (MPS; gong an bu; 公安部‎), National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC; wei sheng ji sheng wei yuan hui; 卫生计生委员会‎), and other related agencies in the emergency response stage (Bai, 2014). The EMO also takes charge of the ongoing routine work of national emergency management, responds to public security events, collects real-time information, and galvanizes the department concerned (Shi et al., 2007).

  • China National Commission for Disaster Reduction (CNCDR, guo jia jian zai wei, 国家减灾委‎)

The predecessor of CNCDR is the CNC of IDNDR established in 1987, in response to the International Decade for Nature Disaster Reduction (CNC of IDNDR, 1998). It was renamed the China Commission for International Disaster Reduction (CCIDR) (zhong guo ji jian zai wei yuan hui; 中国国际减灾委员会)‎in 2000, which eventually became an inter-agency coordination body under the SC, rather than an interim organization responding to the call from the UN (Chŏng, 2012). It was renamed as the CNCDR in 2005 to serve as the top decision and coordinating mechanism for disaster management (Kang, 2015). The CNCDR is the comprehensive coordinating organization for natural disaster relief at the central government level. It is commissioned to (Li, 2013):

  1. 1. Research and formulate national disaster reduction guiding principles, policies, and plans.

  2. 2. Coordinate major national disaster reduction activities;

  3. 3. Guide localities in their disaster reduction efforts.

  4. 4. Promote disaster reduction international exchange and cooperation.

  5. 5. Organize and coordinate disaster response and relief work nationwide.

  • National Disaster Control and Relief Coordination Office (NDCRCO; quan guo kang zai jiu zai zong he xie tiao ban gong shi; 全国抗灾救灾综合协调办公室‎)

Since the founding of the new China in 1949, a coordinating agency for disaster relief was established, namely, the Central Disaster Relief Committee (CDRC; zhong yang jiu zai wei yuan hui; 中央救灾委员会‎). Similar to the case of the MCA, after several years’ evolvement, the CDRC was replaced by the NDCRCO, and reported to the MCA. Together with the CNCDR and other “single” or specific hazard management agencies, the NDCRCO works as one of the central organs coordinating and organizing disaster reduction and relief work (SCPRC, 2009).

“Single” or Specific Hazard Management Agencies

These are the major “single” or “specific” hazard management agencies:

  • State Earthquake Control and Rescue Headquarters (SECRH; guo jia kang zhen jiu zai zhi hui bu; 国家抗震救灾指挥部‎) at the China Earthquake Administration (CEA; zhong guo di zhen ju; 中国地震局‎)

The SECRH is a temporary agency that is setup every time catastrophic earthquakes occur (e.g., the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake), as a “frontline commander” to guide disaster relief campaigns. China first set up the Earthquake Control and Rescue Headquarters (ECRH; kang zhen jiu zai zhi hui bu; 抗震救灾指挥部‎) in 1966 during the Xingtai earthquake (xing tai di zhen; 邢台地震‎) in Hebei Province. A similar agency called the Central Earthquake Working Group (CEWG; zhong yang gong zuo xiao zu; 中央地震工作小组‎) was set up when the Bohai earthquake (bo hai di zhen; 渤海地震‎) occurred in 1969. After a few years of reconstruction, in 1975, the National Seismological Bureau (NSB; guo jia di zhen ju; 国家地震局‎) took over the responsibility of operating the SECRH. In 1998, the NSB was renamed the CEA. The CEA also undertakes national earthquake management, including drafting and implementing strategies, principles and policies, laws and regulations, earthquake response plans, and seismic standards for earthquake disaster prevention and reduction; and it administers national earthquake monitoring and predicting systems (UNISDR, 2017). Since the Tangshan earthquake (tang shan da di zhen; 唐山大地震‎) in 1976, the SECRH has been able to be activated immediately in the event of a severe earthquake (Zhang, 2015).

  • State Flood and Drought Control Headquarters (SFDCH; guo jia fang xun kang han zong zhi hui bu; 国家防汛抗旱总指挥部‎) in the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR; shui li bu; 水利部‎)

Like the SECRH, the SFDCH is a temporary agency that galvanizes actions of different actors in the event of a huge flood and/or drought in China. In the early 1950s, China experienced devastating floods and droughts, such as the Yangtze River floods (chang jiang da hong shui; 长江大洪水‎) in 1954 and the Great Chinese Famine between 1959 and 1961. Accordingly, China established the Central Flood Control Headquarters (CFCH; zhong gong zhong yang fang xun zong zhi hui bu; 中央防汛总指挥部‎) in 1950 and the Central Production Drought Control Office (CPDCO; zhong yang sheng chan fang han ban gong shi; 中央生产防旱办公室)‎in 1952. Prior to 1971, flood and drought disasters were supervised by the Ministry of Water and Power (MWP; shui li dian li bu; 水利电力部‎) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MA; nong ye bu; 农业部‎), respectively. After 1971, a unified agency called the Central Flood and Drought Control Headquarters (CFDCH; zhong yang fang xun kang han zong zhi hui bu; 中央防汛抗旱总指挥部‎) was established and supervised by MWP. However, the management of floods and droughts was not integrated, as they were supervised by different agencies between 1977 and 1992. It was not until 1992 that the SFDCH was established, with responsibility for both flood and drought disaster control and relief work.

  • The other “single” or specific hazard response agencies include:

    1. 1. China Meteorological Administration (CMA; zhong guo qi xiang ju; 中国气象局‎).

    2. 2. State Oceanic Administration (SOA; guo jia hai yang ju; 国家海洋局‎).

    3. 3. Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR; guo tu zi yuan bu; 国土资源部‎).

    4. 4. State Forestry Administration (SFA; guo jia lin ye ju; 国家林业局‎).

    5. 5. Ministry of Agriculture (MA; guo jia nong ye bu; 国家农业部‎).

These agencies established corresponding offices at the local level (see Figure 3).

Natural Hazards Governance in ChinaClick to view larger

Figure 3. The evolution of disaster management organizations (see Appendix 1 for a list of abbreviations).

Through several decades of institutional reform, the Chinese government has gradually streamlined its top-down disaster management system. The operational mechanism can be summarized as follows (SCPRC, 2009; Yi et al., 2012):

  • Strong leadership of the government (zheng fu tong yi ling dao; 政府统一领导‎). This means that the government is responsible for issuing policies and regulations, planning, making decisions, commanding, supervising and coordinating, and implementing disaster management measures.

  • Leveled responses in different departments (fen ji xiang ying; 分级响应‎). This means the central Chinese government is responsible for the management of catastrophe relief, while local governments cater to disaster management in their respective administrative areas depending on the magnitude of disasters. For example, the central government takes major responsibility for major disasters, provincial governments for large-scale disasters, municipal governments for medium-scale disasters, and county governments for minor disasters.

  • Management by different disaster types (fen lei guan li; 分类管理‎). This implies that different disaster types are managed by relevant departments of the government that specialize in specific disasters.

  • Local government-led management (shu di wei zhu; 属地为主‎). The management and expenditure in disaster situations depend on local governments and are supplemented by the central government.

There is little collaboration and coordination among different ministries. However, the Chinese government has plans to set up a new high-level institution under the State Council called the Ministry of Emergency Management to oversee and coordinate the various governmental departments for both natural and human-made disasters (Xinhua, 2018). The ministry will be responsible for compiling and implementing emergency management plans, as well as organizing rescue and relief for disasters and workplace accidents. It will also be in charge of work safety and the prevention and control of fire, flood, drought, and geographical disasters. The CEA and State Administration of Coal Mine Safety will be affiliated to the new ministry, while the SAWS will be dismantled (Xinhua, 2018). The new department is expected to improve cooperation among departments for disaster governance. This is a rather drastic change as various agencies and institutions will be reorganized.

Strategies to Integrate Bottom-Up With Top-Down Systems

China’s top-down NHG has demonstrated its strength in mobilizing national resources for disaster response and recovery, including mobilizing people to help themselves and others. However, it needs to further improve its immediate post-disaster psychosocial response and recovery, livelihood restoration, and disaster risk awareness. Furthermore, due to administrative and communicative constraints, the needs and voices of disaster victims can be more adequately considered in disaster-related plans. Cadres responsible for directing or coordinating the disaster response and recovery may not be as familiar with the local geophysical settings or the cultural and environmental contexts as the local communities, which is essential in designing the immediate, short, and long-term disaster risk reduction plans. Therefore, as more social organizations are emerging in China currently, more community consultation and engagement are needed.

The advantages of involving local communities and social organizations are apparent. First, most local social organizations are generally knowledgeable about their own environment and coping mechanisms, and they often find ways to reduce vulnerability (Zhang et al., 2013). Second, establishing good relationships with local cadres is important for effectively designing and implementing disaster plans, and social organizations are well placed to liaise for the local government and the community in planning, given their knowledge and networks. Third, during the emergency response and rescue phases, a participation scheme for government-led, local community and social organizations is helpful in responding to the immediate needs of the people. For example, during the Wenchuan and Lushan earthquakes, social organizations helped the government distribute disaster relief and generated solutions in emergency situations (Lu & Xu, 2014). In 2015, the MCA issued guidance on supporting and directing social forces participating in disaster relief processes (MCA, 2015). Therefore, the involvement of social organizations and platforms to facilitate the integration of bottom-up and top-down NHG practices and processes in China is under-developed currently and needs to be further developed and enhanced.

In view of the current situation of government and social organizations, two possible strategies are summarized here.

Purchasing Services From Social Organizations

The Chinese government started to purchase a range of services from social organizations in the 1990s. This rapidly developed after 2007 and was further augmented since 2013, when the SC issued the “Guidance on Government Purchase of Public Services from Social Forces” (guan yu zheng fu xiang she hui li liang gou mai fu wu de zhi dao yi jian; 关于政府向社会力量购买服务的指导意见‎) (Han, 2017). This guidance legitimized and normalized the service purchase process of the Chinese government. In 2014, the MF, the MCA, and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC; guo jia gong shang xing zheng guan li ju; 国家工商行政管理局‎) issued the “Notice of Interim Measures for the Administration of Government Purchase of Services.” This further enhanced the process and practice of purchasing services from social organizations (Yu & Shen, 2017). Although there are no specified regulations on buying social services in the disaster management field, this development makes it possible for the top-down and bottom-up approaches to come together in a sustainable and “win-win” manner. This strategy may reduce the government’s burden and simultaneously improve the financial stability of social organizations.

Building National Comprehensive Disaster Reduction Demonstration Communities Together

The campaign to build “National Comprehensive Disaster Reduction Demonstration Communities” was launched by the MCA in 2007, to increase disaster resilience in local communities. Disaster preparedness efforts such as establishing evacuation places, designing emergency plans, disaster public education, and so on have been increasing (Zhou & Zhang, 2013). Nevertheless, there is more room for improvement in terms of encouraging participation by residents in regular evacuation drills, disaster risk education, and disaster-related planning. These activities require long-term planning and involvement and continual contact with the residents. Social organizations are well placed to undertake this in collaboration with the local government.


This article has delineated the evolution of China’s NHG top-down system and has discussed some plausible ways to integrate the top-down system with the bottom-up capacities in China by first reviewing its evolution of ethos in relation to disaster management through time. It has moved, over time, from passive disaster relief to more proactive disaster management, and toward more optimal disaster risk governance. This transition has seen more stakeholders, including social organizations, business sectors, and even individuals, participating in the disaster management process. It is interesting that, while the current top-down system has discouraged, to some extent, the engagement of non-government organizations in disaster management, community participation in disaster response and recovery was very high before 1970s, when the country began to acquire the wealth it has today. China has strong foundations to involve the community in the disaster governance system from a bottom-up fashion. This may include purchasing services from social organizations or engaging them in building disaster model communities. With the increasing openness to international societies and transparency in risk governance, China has made remarkable progress in establishing an inclusive and integrated risk governance system for natural disasters.

The Chinese people are familiar with disasters and are experienced in rebuilding their communities after disasters. Even when they were poorer, a few decades back, people were resilient in bouncing back, individually and collectively. To discourage the outlook of “wait, depend, and demand” (deng kao yao) in the Chinese people, the involvement of residents and social organizations in China’s NHG is essential.


This research is funded by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the project An Integrative Research Proposal on Promoting Risk-Informed Public Policies for Risk-Resilient Development (1-ZVHF).


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Appendix 1. List of Abbreviations of Disaster Management Organizations






China Commission for International Disaster Reduction


Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC)

(Name changed)


Central Disaster Relief Committee


(Kang, 2015)



China Earthquake Administration


China Earthquake Administration


Central Earthquake Working Group


Translated by the author



Central Flood Control Headquarters


Translated by the author



Central Flood and Drought Control Headquarters


Translated by the author


China Meteorological Administration


China Meteorological Administration


China National Commission for Disaster Reduction


China National Commission for Disaster Reduction


China National Committee of International Decade for Nature Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)


ADRC Information on Disaster Risk Reduction of the Member Countries

(Name changed)


Central Production Drought Control Office


Translated by the author



Disaster Relief Division


Translated by the author



Earthquake Control and Rescue Headquarters


Translated by the author



Emergency Management Office


(Shi, Liu, Yao, Tang, & Yang, 2007)


Ministry of Commerce


Ministry of Commerce


Ministry of Civil Affairs


Ministry of Civil Affairs


Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation


Translated by the author



Ministry of Agriculture


Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs


Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Ministry of Internal Affairs


(Kang, 2015)



Ministry of Land and Resources


Ministry of Land and Resources


Ministry of Public Security


Ministry of Public Security


Ministry of Water and Power


Translated by the author



Ministry of Water Resources


Ministry of Water Resources


National Disaster Control and Relief Coordination Office


(Kang, 2015)



National Health and Family Planning Commission


National Health and Family Planning Commission


National Seismological Bureau


Translated by the author

(Name changed)


State Administration for Industry and Commerce


State Administration for Industry and Commerce


State Administration of Work Safety


Ministry of Emergency Management


The State Council


The State Council


Social Division


Translated by the author



State Earthquake Control and Rescue Headquarters


(Yi, Ge, Zhao, Zhou, & Gao, 2012)



State Forestry Administration


Translated by the author



State Flood and Drought Control Headquarters


(Yi et al., 2012)


State Oceanic Administration


State Oceanic Administration

Appendix 2. Collaboration Among Stakeholders in China’s Natural Hazard Governance (NHG) in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake and the 2013 Lushan Earthquake (Zhang, 2015)


2008 Wenchuan Earthquake

2013 Lushan +Earthquake

Government vs Social organizations

Participation of social organizations was less organized. Even though there was a temporary governmental office to coordinate the participation of social organizations, it worked less effective.

More professional social organizations participated in emergency response and disaster relief under the coordination of the government.

Central vs. Local Government

Central government played a key and leading role in the entire process of emergency responses and recovery among different stakeholders at different levels.

Province level government was the core response network; the central government provided assistance to the provincial government to command and coordinate the response.


Not effective.

No significant improvement.