COOPERATOR OR DEFECTOR? A qualitative study of a superpower’s policy efforts on collective environmental issues
The thesis studies whether and how China, as an emerging superpower, cooperates on collective environmental issues through complying with international agreements, taking the management of chemical fertilizer and pesticide (agrochemicals) as a case. Through theories neorealism, neoliberalism and neoliberal institutionalism, to gain different theoretical expectations how states like China act to international agreements and collective environmental issues. Moreover, the discussion of realist approach and functionalism of compliance with international agreements identify the links between international actions and local compliance and implementation of international agreements. Neorealism and realist approach would expect that China will not comply with international agreements about collective environmental issues and implement those on the local level. Neoliberalism (and neoliberal institutionalism) and functionalism would expect that China sees environmental protection as equal to economic growth, and China is more likely to cooperate with international agreements through international institutions by complying with and implementing international agreements. The analytical framework unfolds from five criteria to analyze and evaluate China’s policy efforts of managing fertilizers and pesticides at the national and provincial levels. The paper uses the qualitative approach, including content analysis of policy documents and video statements, and one informant interview, to collect qualitative data. On this basis, this study finds that China has taken a slow pace to comply with and implement the international sustainability agreements. In addition, China has shown an increasing willingness and actions to reduce the use of agrochemicals, but there are still many issues that need improvement.