John Yasuda (Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Study of Contemporary China, University of Pennsylvania)
"Why Is My Milk Blue?: China's Food Safety Crisis and Scale Politics"
March 16, 2015
Why is China’s food safety system failing? Rather than explanations based on the country’s level of economic development, corruption, and state capacity, Yasuda argues that China’s food safety failures result from its inability to resolve disruptive scale politics as governance systems operating at multiple scales - national, provincial, prefectural, and county - are forced to integrate. He reconceptualizes the scale of a system as its "degree of zoom" which has multiple dimensions (spatial, jurisdictional, temporal, managerial, knowledge-related, and network-related.) As the government attempted to integrate its fragmented food safety system through the use of coordination bodies and model production bases, it failed to align the interests of stakeholders across scales, which led to regulatory failure. More broadly, Yasuda suggests China’s adaptive, informal mode of governance serves as a weak template for regulatory integration across scales. Policies formed at one scale negatively impact governing systems at other scales; and, local regulatory systems resist and are sometimes blocked from integrating with an evolving national food safety regime.
For more information: eap.einaudi.cornell.edu/ccci-spring-2015