The prevailing systems for decision-making in many countries tend to separate environmental factors at the policy, planning and management levels, a practice that has important implications for sustainable development. Among many methods, at different decision-making levels, environmental planning and environmental assessment are currently the most widely used in China. This article briefly introduces four case studies featuring environmental planning and assessment in Xiamen, a coastal city in southeast China. Differences in scope of application, timing, nature, legal status, methodologies and effectiveness are described. Six principles for the successful integration of environmental protection and development are advanced based on the analytical results. As well, a simplified integration framework is proposed.