Abstract: The social impact of China’s policy of phasing out excess coal production since the 2010s is examined through the lens of “just transition.” Qualitative fieldwork undertaken in Liupanshui, Guizhou province, focussed on seven mines, among which three were decommissioned. Against the backdrop of top‐down policy imperatives aimed at rapidly reducing coal production capacity, more powerful stakeholders took action to safeguard their own perceived interests, thereby transferring the costs of transition to the least powerful actors while exacerbating existing injustices. At the same time, Confucian traditions and modern civic education in China—which prioritise endurance and compliance—limited individual voice and agency. By adopting just transition as a policy tool, China could avoid errors made by countries that transitioned earlier.
Keywords: China; coal mining industry; green transition; just transition; social injustice