Through investigation of a mass incident to resist the ecological ruin of an emigrant Chinese village in the early 2000s, this article analyses the logic of governmentality underlying the flow of communication and supervision during resolution of a pollution protest. This case study demonstrates how emphasis was placed not on personalistic social ties but on organisational relationships. In examining the key role that overseas Chinese organisations played in resolving this case, this article reveals the governing principle of “diplomatic priority”. And due to the governing principles underlying “territory management”, self-preservation leads local officials to shirk from administrative responsibility. Fear of responsibility and joint liability functions as a roadblock in the flow of legitimate information, and can lead to covering up or suppressing lawful environmental concerns, thereby hampering the timely resolution of the issue.