The implementation issue in norm diffusion: the cases of WTO anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty in China

  • Yujia ZHAO

Student thesis: PhD Thesis


China increasingly integrates into the international system, but has the social capitalist China been effectively contained by the Western-led liberal order? Most current literatures assume China’s ratification of international treaties as the signal to its full adoption of international norms, and scholars such as John Ikenberry thus argue that China is getting contained by the Western liberal order. However, a new wave of norm diffusion scholars suggests that even the ratified norms may not have the expected domestic impacts; the implementation process is decisive to the real changes ‘on the ground’. Following this vein, this thesis studies China’s implementation of international liberal norms in order to understand how the liberal world contains China in its order. This thesis compares the implementation of two WTO trading norms namely anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty in China as the representative case studies. The analysis suggests that these two norms have made important changes to China’s legal system, institution-building, field-level practices and its domestic discourse. By employing political comparative methods, it proves the WTO implementing instruments as effective in promoting the progresses of this implementation process. However, the analysis further suggests that the cultural match of these two international liberal norms with China’s social capitalist traditions also contributes to strong domestic resistances to the implementation process. The consequences of this dis-match are largely reflected in China’s field-level practices of and its domestic discourses over these two norms. This thesis provides a complex answer to the question raised at the beginning. As the case studies illustrate, although anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty conflict with China’s social capitalist traditions, China chooses to play by the rules because of its ‘problem-solving’ concerns and because of the pressure from the WTO and its members. China, both the state sectors and non-state actors, values its identity as a member of the international society, and is willing to act as the defender of the current international order. Even though, China is not a passive receiver of the liberal normative structure. The dis-match between the liberal norms and China’s social capitalist tradition inevitably results in the internal resistance to the tendency of China being fully contained by the international liberal order. This resistance will not be eliminated by any external pressure.
Date of Award15 Oct 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Univerisity of Nottingham
SupervisorMay Tan-Mullins (Supervisor) & Ben Holland (Supervisor)


  • International relations
  • International norms

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