The limits to the internationalisation of regulation: divergent enforcement strategies in China's food safety regulation

May Chu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article empirically analyses enforcement strategies that characterise food safety regulations in China. It demonstrates that the Chinese government has deployed a dichotomous approach, resulting in very different regulations in its domestic and export food markets. The export food sector exhibits strong deterrent measures whereas regulation of domestic food markets is reactive and relies on persuasive approaches to enforcement. These variations between the two sectors result from a combination of the internationalisation of regulatory practice in the case of exports and resource constraints, a lack of institutional capacity and resistance to regulation from intertwined business and government interests when it comes to domestic food markets. This article addresses a gap in existing theories of regulation by showing how an industrialising economy with an authoritarian regime employs an accommodative and pragmatic approach to regulation that balances international pressure and national interests and produces contrasting approaches in different sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-453
Number of pages21
JournalPolicy and politics
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the HKIAPS South China Programme and the Faculty of Social Science,The Chinese University of Hong Kong under the Direct Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Policy Press. All Rights Reserved.


  • China
  • enforcement
  • food markets
  • global regulation
  • public health
  • regulation
  • regulatory capture
  • risk-based regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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