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China's Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change
Cornell University Press, 2008, 192pp, ISBN: 0801446368


Fifteen years ago, opponents of large-scale dam projects in China were greeted with indifference or repression. Today they are part of the hydropower policy-making process itself. What accounts for this dramatic change in this critical policy area surrounding China's insatiable quest for energy? In China's Water Warriors, Andrew Mertha argues that as China has become increasingly market driven, decentralized, and politically heterogeneous, the control and management of water has transformed from an unquestioned economic imperative to a lightning rod of bureaucratic infighting, societal opposition, and open protest. Although bargaining has always been present in Chinese politics, more recently the media, nongovernmental organizations, and other activists-actors hitherto denied a seat at the table-have emerged as serious players in the policy-making process. Drawing from extensive field research in some of the most remote parts of Southwest China, China's Water Warriors contains rich narratives of the widespread opposition to dams in Pubugou and Dujiangyan in Sichuan province and the Nu River Project in Yunnan province. Mertha concludes that the impact and occasional success of such grassroots movements and policy activism signal a marked change in China's domestic politics. He questions democratization as the only, or even the most illuminating, indicator of political liberalization in China, instead offering an informed and hopeful picture of a growing pluralization of the Chinese policy process as exemplified by hydropower politics.



The Politics of Piracy: Intellectual Property in Contemporary China
Cornell University Press, 2005, Hardcover, 258pp, ISBN: 0801443644; Paperback, 241pp, ISBN: 0801473853


China is by far the world's leading producer of pirated goods-from films and books to clothing, from consumer electronics to aircraft parts. As China becomes a full participant in the international economy, its inability to enforce intellectual property rights is coming under escalating international scrutiny.
What is the impact, Andrew C. Mertha asks, of external pressure on China's enforcement of intellectual property? The conventional wisdom sees a simple correlation between greater pressure and better domestic compliance with international norms and declared national policy. Mertha's research tells a different story: external pressure may lead to formal agreements in Beijing, resulting in new laws and official regulations, but it is China's complex network of bureaucracies that decides actual policy and enforcement. The structure of the administrative apparatus that is supposed to protect intellectual property rights makes it possible to track variation in the effects of external pressure for different kinds of intellectual property. Mertha shows that while the sustained pressure of state-to-state negotiations has shaped China's patent and copyright laws, it has had little direct impact on the enforcement of those laws. By contrast, sustained pressure from inside China, on the part of foreign trademark-owners and private investigation companies in their employ, provides a far greater rate of trademark enforcement and spurs action from anti-counterfeiting agencies.



Journal Articles

Surrealpolitik: The Experience of Chinese Experts in Democratic Kampuchea, 1975–1979, Cross-Currents 4 (September 2012): The literature on Chinese assistance to Democratic Kampuchea (1975–1979), has tended to be divided into two approaches. The first rests on the argument that the Chinese revolutionary state—particularly the more radical phases such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution—provided both a blueprint and an inspiration for the Cambodian revolution. This approach suggests that Chinese experts in Democratic Kampuchea were akin to revolutionary comrades-in-arms who shared an ideological affinity as they worked alongside their Cambodian counterparts. The second approach focuses on a state-to-state level of analysis in which the human element is ignored altogether. In this article, by contrast, I argue that theChinese experience in Democratic Kampuchea was structured and constrained by the contradiction of technical imperatives in a milieu of deadly political infighting, as well as by the many institutional shortcomings on both the Cambodian and the Chinese sides. I use the petroleum refinery project at Kampong Som (Sihanoukville) to illustrate my argument.

  pdf version

Fragmented Authoritarianism 2.0: Political Pluralization in the Policy Process, The China Quarterly (forthcoming, 2009): Traditional analyses on political liberalization in China focus on elections or other dimensions of democratization. But these studies cannot account for the fact that although China remains authoritarian, it is nonetheless responsive to the increasingly diverse demands of society. I argue that although the policy making process is still largely governed by the fragmented authoritarianism framework, it has become increasingly pluralized, that is, barriers to entry into the policy process have been lowered, at least for certain actors (hitherto peripheral officials, non-governmental organizations, and an increasingly activist media). With policy outcomes as the variable of interest, I compare three cases of hydropower policy (the Nu River, Dujiangyan/Yangliuhu, and Pubugou). I argue that the variability in the absence or presence of policy entrepreneurs who are able to frame the issue effectively explains variation in hydropower policy outcomes. I then extend these findings to a critical case in an unlikely policy area, international trade, specifically, China's 2001-2006 trade talks with the European Union over the issue of child-resistant safety regulations for lighters.

  "From 'Rustless Screws' to 'Nail Houses': The Evolution of Property Rights in China, Orbis 53 (2) Spring 2009:This article addresses property rights in China under four headings. I begin by placing The Chinese case within the larger context of property rights literature. The second section reviews the existing scholarship on property rights in China and identifies existing lacunae. The third section provides the broad contours of the contemporary Chinese intellectual and political discourse over property rights in China. And finally, I offer several cases of property rights that illustrate the variation in the scope of the concept of property rights in China and suggest possible avenues for future research.
  Unbuilt Dams: Seminal Events and Policy Change in China, Australia, and the United States (co-authored with William Lowry), Comparative Politics 39 (1) October 2006: 1-20: Seminal politico-historical events, in which not only policy but the actual political processes through which policy evolves undergo dramatic and fundamental change, are as important as they are uncommon. Why do such seminal politico-historical events occur, and how comparable are seminal events across continents and political systems? We answer these questions by analyzing instances where government attempts to build large-scale dam projects have been reversed after arousing opposition, and, in the process, given birth to the modern environmental movements. We look at two such cases in the United States and Australia, respectively, as an heuristic through which to analyze the case of Dujiangyan, China. We find that the Chinese case eerily parallels these other instances and fits squarely within Schattschneider's notion of "expanding the sphere," suggesting that this framework is not limited by regime type. Substantively, we may be witnessing a fundamental change in the ways in which the Chinese state governs itself.



“Policy Enforcement Markets”: How Bureaucratic Redundancy Contributes to Effective IPR Policy Implementation in China,Comparative Politics 38 (3) April 2006: 295-316: In this article, I argue that the widespread assumption in which redundancy necessarily leads to inefficiency is incorrect, that there are different types of redundancies. In some cases, redundancy does produce inefficient results. But in others, parallel bureaucracies can contribute to efficient and effective policy outcomes, while their absence can lead to wasteful and ineffective policy implementation. Examining the issue area of intellectual property in China, I show how institutional arrangements and inter-bureaucratic competition over overlapping jurisdictions explain why copyright enforcement is so poor while trademark enforcement has met with far greater success. Efforts to make the copyright bureaucracy more efficient by merging it with other bureaucracies often result in organizational inertia that stifles effective copyright enforcement. By contrast, organizational competition between two discrete, parallel bureaucracies over the anti-counterfeiting portfolio (the "policy enforcement market") contributes to more effective and less costly enforcement. In addition to challenging the assumption equating redundancy with inefficiency, the article identifies conditions under which bureaucratic redundancy can lead to effective policy outcomes. These findings also provide an alternative framework through which to study Chinese policy implementation and enforcement, they suggest future Chinese compliance patterns with World Trade Organization rules, and they have implications for the evolution of China's legal regime


China’s “Soft” Centralization: Shifting Tiao/Kuai Authority Relations, The China Quarterly 184 (December 2005): 791-810: This article analyses China’s recent attempts to counter “local protectionism” and “implementation bias” since the mid-to-late 1990s by centralizing a growing number of its regulatory bureaucracies (“vertical management” or chuizhi guanli). The analysis is guided by the following questions: why has China undertaken these significant institutional changes? What are the actual institutional mechanisms accompanying vertical management? Finally, what are some of the implications of vertical management on the evolution of the Chinese state? The shift from decentralized authority relations to centralized authority relations requires substantial institutional changes with regard to bianzhi allocations, nomenklatura, and extrabudgetary financing, creating very real political winners and losers. I find that although officially these changes have largely been accomplished, many problems remain with regard to sorting out authority relations, implementing policy, and enforcing the law. These may have profound effects on the future evolution of institutional change in China.


Political Institutions, Local Resistance, and China's Harmonization with International Law (co-authored with Karen Zeng), The China Quarterly 182 (June 2005): 319-337: In countries with non-credible ratification mechanisms, where do the political battles over implementation and enforcement of trade agreements take place? In examining this question, our paper looks at the confluence of two dimensions gaining empirical and theoretical significance in China: harmonization with international laws and Center-local relations. Although China is currently attempting to standardize its legal and regulatory regime, many localities are reluctant to change local laws and regulations which provide preferential benefits to investors, maintain trade barriers to protect the local economy, and perpetuate the informal power of local officials and quasi-official associations. In this paper, we look at institutions that are being developed in China to ensure domestic harmonization of Chinese laws with WTO principles and the enforcement mechanisms in place to rein in those localities which continue to resist efforts at harmonization.

  pdf version

Patently Misleading: Partial Implementation and Bargaining Leverage in Sino-American Negotiations on Intellectual Property Rights (co-authored with Robert Pahre), International Organization 59 (3) Summer 2005: 695-730: We develop a model of international negotiation in which states anticipate that the agreements they sign will only be partly implemented. The results differ significantly from theories of domestic ratification, which have previously been applied to this problem. Negotiators do not try to satisfy the implementer, and may even choose agreements that the implementer would explicitly reject in a ratification model. Partial implementation also makes it possible for two negotiators to reach agreements outside their usual win-set. This may allow one country to make extraordinary concessions, knowing that some provisions will never be fully implemented. We apply these claims to Sino-American negotiations over IPR, where implementation has been a recurrent issue. The theory enriches the theory of two-level games, which has focused much too narrowly on formal ratification without amendment as the canonical case of domestic influence over international bargaining.

Book Chapters

Case Studies

Case Studies in Comparative Politics, edited by Daviod Samuels, Pearson, 2012: “Comparative Politics and Case Studies in Comparative Politics are cutting-edge and high quality textbooks that many political scientists of my generation will consider using. They address many of my concerns with existing texts by providing instructors with a great deal of leeway in designing a syllabus. Each case study is written by a prominent scholar or rising comparativist and is nicely linked to the thematic survey. This would allow me the flexibility of using a different survey text or no survey text at all.”—Emmanuel Teitelbaum, George Washington University

David J. Samuels: Benjamin E. Lippincott Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

The United Kingdom: Ben Ansell and Jane Gingrich, Assistant Professors of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

Germany: David Art, Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University.

France: Erik Bleich, Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College.

Japan: Ethan Scheiner, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California–Davis

India: Steven Wilkinson, Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Yale University.

Mexico: Cecilia Martinez-Gallardo, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

Russia: Graeme Robertson, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

Nigeria: Alexandra Scacco, Assistant Professor of Politics at New York University.

China: Andrew Mertha, Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University (pdf version).

Iran: Arzoo Osanloo, Associate Professor in the Law, Societies, and Justice Program at the University of Washington.

  Gries and Rosen

In Peter Hays Gries and Stanley Rosen, eds., State and Society in 21st Century China: Crisis, Contention, and Legitimation, London: Routledge, 2010
Society in the State: China's Nondemocratic Political Pluralization:
In this chapter, I analyze a recent liberalizing trend in Chinese politics: the increased pluralization of the policy making process. In contrast to traditional civil society models, this political pluralization centers around a tacit agreement between the government on the one hand, and disgruntled peripheral officials, NGOs, and the media, on the other. As long as the later groups do not threaten the legitimacy of the state -- but rather target specific policies -- barriers to entry into the policy making process have been considerably softened. These opponents to state policies are able to exploit fissures in the policy and establish parameters for debate. They then shift the momentum of the policy debate in their favor by altering the ways in which the policy is framed and expending the sphere of policy conflict. They do so by utilizing the strategies documented by the fragmented authoritarianism framework of Chinese politics, strategies previously unavailable to them. pdf version




In Ka Zeng, ed., China's Foreign Trade Policy: The New Constituencies, London: Routledge, 2007: China’s rise as a major trading power has prompted debate about the nature of that country’s involvement in the liberal international economic order. China’s Foreign Trade Policy sheds light on this complex question by examining the changing domestic forces shaping China’s foreign trade relations. Specifically, this book explores the evolving trade policymaking process in China by looking at: China’s WTO accession negotiation China’s bilateral trade disputes The development of China’s antidumping regime China’s emerging trade disputes in the WTO. In addition, Ka Zeng examines how lobbying patterns in China are becoming more open and pluralistic, with bureaucratic agencies, sectoral interests, regional interests, and even transnational actors increasingly able to influence the process and outcome of China’s trade negotiations. Using case studies of China’s trade disputes with its major trading partners, as well as China’s participation in the dispute settlement process of the World Trade Organization, to present an in-depth analysis of China’s trade relations, this book will appeal to students and scholars of international political economy, Chinese politics and foreign policy, and more generally Asian studies.

Chapter 1 "Introduction" (with Ka Zeng)

Chapter 5 "Putting Your Mouth Where Your Money Is: How US Companies' Fear of Chinese Retaliation Influences US Trade Policy,"

In Stanley Lubman, Kevin O'Brien, and Neil Diamant, eds., Engaging the Law in China: State, Society and Possibilities for Justice, Stanford University Press, 2005
Shifting Legal and Administrative Goalposts: Chinese Bureaucracies, Foreign Actors and the Evolution of China's Anti-Counterfeiting Enforcement Regime: The growth in the number of foreign commercial actors in China has made them active participants in Chinese society and an active constituency in China's law enforcement regime and even within its lawmaking process. Foreign commercial actors arrived in China with the expectation that trademark protection would be guaranteed by the courts under the civil Trademark Law. When it became clear that the courts were unwilling and/or unable to ensure trademark protection, many of these firms utilized China's administrative enforcement apparatus with greater success. However, administrative enforcement could not establish a credible deterrent to would-be counterfeiters, and in recent years, foreign trademark-intensive companies have established a close association with national and local Chinese government agencies to press for the prosecution of trademark violations under existing statutes in China's Criminal Law. pdf version

From Carsten Fink and Keith Maskus, eds., Intellectual Property and Development: Lessons from Recent Economic Research, Co-publication of World Bank and Oxford University Press, 2005
Intellectual Property Rights and Economic Development in China (with Keith Maskus and Sean Dougherty): In this paper we describe and analyze the situation concerning intellectual property rights (IPRs) in China. We first discuss the basic economic theory of the need for IPRs, distinguishing among patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights. Economic theory suggests that IPRs are an important stimulus to innovation and economic growth if structured correctly and introduced in an environment of active competition. Empirical evidence suggests that IPRs do contribute positively to growth and also can be important in attracting high-quality technology and foreign direct investment. We present a report on the current IPRs situation in China, based on interviews of enterprise managers, public officials, and scholars in several cities. Respondents recognize that China has implemented a strong set of laws but there remain problems with enforcement. Trademark infringement in particular seems to be limiting domestic business development in China. A final section looks at indicators of science and technical innovation in China and relates these indicators to IPRs protection. Applications for protection are rising sharply but China continues to lag behind other countries in R&D performance, both due to weak protection and structural difficulties in commercializing innovation. The use of IPRs differs greatly across regions, largely because of significant income disparities. This poses a structural problem for strengthening IPRs enforcement. pdf version


Domestic Institutional Challenges Facing China’s Leadership on the Eve of the 18th Party Congress
China’s institutional weaknesses, often misperceived as strengths, provide the principal challenges to the new, fifth-generation leadership and its ability to execute its policy preferences and meet the growing complexity of state and societal expectations.

Main Argument
Casual observers of China often interpret unexpected Chinese domestic and foreign policy behavior as a sign of China’s growing strength. But oftentimes the opposite is the case: such behavior is symptomatic of state weakness in the face of growing and increasingly complex demands. As China convenes its 18th Party Congress and the fifth generation of leaders led by Xi Jinping takes the helm, China faces a number of difficult challenges on multiple fronts. Although these issues can have far-reaching international implications, they are domestic in nature and require China’s leaders to adapt state institutions to growing demands from a diverse collection of actors within the state and in society. These challenges include the economic and political restructuring of center-local relations; management of military command and control; the creation of channels to satisfy societal expectations, particularly among the post-1989 generation; and a solution to the escalating crisis in Tibet.
Policy Implications

  • To establish realistic expectations of Chinese capabilities, policymakers should understand and appreciate the degree to which economics and politics have become fused in China.
  • Policymakers should make it difficult for China (or the United States) to terminate military-to-military relations so that both states can engage in a long-term professional and mutually beneficial dialogue at pre-1989 levels.
  • The West should avoid becoming an easy target for a negative variant of Chinese nationalism among the younger demographic by understanding and appreciating the breadth, depth, and dynamism of the Internet in China, instead of focusing on censorship and the “great firewall,” which are easily subverted by users in China.
  • The acute Tibet issue differs now from the chronic problems of the past, and resolution of it is imperative for regional stability. A Chinese occupation scenario in Tibet after the passing of the fourteenth Dalai Lama will resemble a situation more akin to contemporary Afghanistan than, for example, postwar Japan.

University of Oxford, The Foundation for Law, Justice, and Society, Rule of Law in China Publications (http://www.fljs.org/content.asp?pageRef=28), Volume 1: 'Regulating Enterprise: The Regulatory Impact on Doing Business in China': Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights


Testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, June 8, 2006 (http://www.uscc.gov/hearings/2006hearings/hr06_06_08_09.php)

Written Testimony

Selected Book Reviews
  China at the Crossroads by Peter Nolan. Oxford, UK, Polity Press, 2004.
China's New Nationalism: Pride, Politics, and Diplomacy by Peter Hays Gries. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2004.
Reviewed in Political Science Quarterly 120 (2) Summer 2005: 339-341
  The Business of Lobbying in China by Scott Kennedy. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2005.
Reviewed in Political Science Quarterly 121 (1) Spring 2006: 154-155
  China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead by Bruce Gilley. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2005.
Reviewed in Perspectives on Politics 4 (3) September 2006: 613-614

Gordon C.K. Cheung, Intellectual Property Rights in China and Martin K. Dimitrov, Piracy and the State: the Politics of Intellectual Property Rights in China. Reviewed for Pacific Affairs 83 (3) September 2010: 579-582


Sophie Richardson, China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010. Reviewed for The Journal of Asian Studies 70 (1) 2011: 212-214

Selected Media

"Manufaketure," Ted Fishman, The New York Times Magazine, January 9, 2005

"Flip Side to Fame in China," Mark Magnier, The Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2005

"On Piracy, An Advocate for China's Progress," Chris Buckley, The International Herald Tribune, October 4, 2005

"Emerging China: Can the US Successfully Compete?" CQ Researcher, November 11, 2005

"A Christmas Less Bright," Marck Perkiss, The Times of Trenton, December 18, 2005

"Piracy Eludes Solution," David Lazarus, The San Francisco Chronicle, April 16, 2006

Marketplace, Interview with Kai Ryssdal, National Public Radio, April 20, 2006

"A 'Waking Giant' In Food Safety? Experts Discuss China's Future Of Reform" The Tan Sheet, June 4, 2007

"Dissent Slows China's Drive For Massive Dam Projects," Andrew Batson, The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2007

"China: Quake Toll Could Reach 50,000," The Associated Press, May 15, 2008

"After the Earthquake," Peter Hessler, The New Yorker Online, May 19, 2008

"China Quake Batters Energy Industry," Dexter Roberts, BusinessWeek Online, May 19, 2008

Living on Earth (NPR): China's Plans for Dams on Shaky Ground, May 23, 2008 (link to site or listen to the mp3)


"Volunteers Aiding Seaport Museum," The New York TImes, September 12, 1971 (significant -- besides being "cute" -- insofar as this was occurring at exactly the same time as the Lin Biao Incident was reaching its conclusion in China)