China Research Workshop 中国研究讲座 RSVP
Friday, May 3, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. | GPS Dean's Conference Room (2nd Floor, Building 1)

"Leverage and Loopholes: WTO Entry and the Two Faces of Chinese State Activism"

Presenter: Yeling Tan, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Oregon

Abstract: This paper examines why, although entry into the WTO was designed to bind China closer to the international order, some parts of the state enacted more liberalizing reforms than others. I show that despite single-party rule, China’s post-WTO policy trajectories were neither top-down nor monolithic. Instead, rival agencies within China’s powerful central government adopted divergent responses to WTO entry. I identify two competing economic strategies from which these responses are drawn: market-enhancing (regulatory) and market-shaping (developmental). I then use web-scraping techniques to collect an original dataset of Chinese industry regulations from 1978 to 2014, and employ machine-learning methods in text analysis to identify words associated with each strategy. Combining tariff, industry and textual data, I demonstrate that regulatory agencies responded to WTO entry with more liberalizing policies, while developmental agencies used their discretion over FDI policy to intensify their promotion of technology-intensive industries. This paper shows that rather than constraining domestic policy space, WTO rules alter the distribution of power within the state, creating bureaucratic winners and losers. Winners seek to use international rules as leverage to advance their bureaucratic influence, while losers search for loopholes to preserve their policy autonomy.


CRW provides a forum for the presentation of original research by China scholars from around the country in social science and humanities, sponsored by the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China. To view archive and upcoming workshops list, visit:
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