For a country without a mature representative democracy, the development of public participation mechanisms in lawmaking processes is of paramount importance and deserves research. In China, public participation in lawmaking through a one-stage disclosure and comment process is now routine, and the revision of the Environmental Protection Law beginning in 2012 gave birth to a new mechanism featuring a two-stage disclosure and comment process. Expanding public participation can benefit environmental democracy by bringing environmental insights and interests into environmental lawmaking, balancing economic and environmental interests and strengthening public participation in the implementation of law. Recent environmental lawmaking activities with the new public participation mechanism show positive progress towards a more transparent and inclusive lawmaking process, but also limitations regarding the effective interaction between the public and the legislature, the meaningful consideration of public comments into legislative decisions, and the mobilisation of civil society and environmental NGOs. China needs both short- and long-term measures to address the problems and thus fully realise the benefits of public participation. KEYWORDS: environmental lawmaking, public participation, ‘disclosure and comment’