Through an examination of the institutions of energy governance in China, this paper identifies a number of key features which are likely to determine the future evolution of its energy sector. At one level are the embedded institutions which have their roots in more than four thousand years of history and derive from the country's origin as an hydraulic agrarian regime. At another level, analysis of the current institutional environment shows how the formal structures government and the legal system operate in the context of these deeply rooted values to provide the framework for policy making and implementation in the energy sector. In the contemporary world, events within and outside China conspire to drive energy up or down the policy agenda of the central government, and the government in turn may look outwards to seek new ideas to apply to old and new challenges in the field of energy.
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