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Title: Civil Society and China’s Compliance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Authors: Xu, Mengyi
Advisors: Katz, Stanley
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: Smoking is a leading risk factor for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) worldwide. With 350 million adult smokers, the epidemic is especially severe in China. In 2005, it ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty designed to promulgate a global anti-tobacco norm. Yet, due to a profit-driven statecontrolled industry monopoly, a flawed FCTC implementation body, and a lack of political will from the top leadership, the national government has adopted few measures to carry out its treaty obligations. Literature suggests that civil society involvement is instrumental in a country’s internationalization of global norms. This thesis explores how such forces are configured in China’s tobacco control space and how they can induce the country to be more compliant with the FCTC. The recent regulatory reforms in China created a fluid institutional landscape that has encouraged a diverse array of civil society actors to participate in the country’s domestic tobacco control campaign. The co-existence of transnational foundations, networked epistemic communities, social organizations, as well as a new category of non-government non-enterprise units challenges existing theories of Chinese civil society, which focus on distinguishing between the top-down and bottom-up paths of its development. An in depth case study of the Think Tank Research Center on Health Development (TTH) indicates that it was able to advance China’s tobacco control campaign by creatively overcoming the factors that ordinarily constrain civil society agency in China: 1. it expanded its human resources through active collaboration and delegation; 2. it elevated the significance of its single-issue mandate through a multidisciplinary and corrective-preemptive-constructive combined approach; and 3) it generated policy influence by harnessing its scientific authority, leveraging the power of the media, and working at both the national and local levels. These strategies enabled it to increase its institutional legitimacy, capacity, reach, and sustainability, all of which contributed to its influence in the public forum and policy domain. TTH’s experience demonstrates that independence of action is not a prerequisite for civil society influence and participation by civil society organizations is in itself insufficient to bring about norm internalization. Compliance with the FCTC would require increased political commitment, which TTH has helped to engender, and broader citizen engagement, which should be the focus for civil society organizations going forward. This thesis concludes with recommendations for the consolidation of TTH’s institutional advantage and the empowerment of citizen participation in tobacco control, both of which will enable China better internalize the global anti-tobacco norm going forward.
Extent: 133 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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