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Transnational activism and state power in China
Author: Stephen Noakes

The tale of transnational advocacy networks (TANs) is typically one of non-state actors reshaping world politics through the power of persuasion and principled ideas. This book is about the unromantic and often uncomfortable realities of transnational advocacy in a strong authoritarian state and rising world power. Drawing together case studies that span a range of issues, repertoires, and results of advocacy, it elaborates the constitutive role of the state in contemporary transnational activism. Because transnational networks are significant globally and domestically, the book speaks to students of comparative and international politics, bridging what is treated here as a superficial divide between the sub-fields. It discusses the campaigns around justice for Falun Gong and the strengthening of intellectual property rights in China. The book then traces the campaign around HIV/AIDS treatment, and the effort to abolish capital punishment in China. In the campaign for Tibetan independence, Chinese intransigence on the matter of national sovereignty for Tibet produced a split within the TAN. The book argues that that TANs can be effective when a legitimacy-seeking state deems the adoption of new policy positions in a given issue area to be critical for the preservation of its own moral authority and power monopoly. The key to working more effectively in China, therefore, is to recognize the source of Chinese Communist Party legitimacy and the connectedness of an issue to it. Those wishing to approach China recognize and take seriously the Chinese power to shape global issues and campaigns in support of them.

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The superpower’s dilemma: to appease, repress, or transform transnational advocacy networks?
Stephen Noakes

The tale of transnational advocacy networks (TANs), as told by students of international politics, is typically one of the non-state actors reshaping world politics through the power of persuasion and principled ideas. This chapter presents some concepts discussed in this book. The book takes a process-based and interactive approach, using the case of China to disaggregate the processes of transnational issue advocacy. Drawing together the case studies that span a range of issues, repertoires, and results of advocacy, it elaborates the constitutive role of the state in contemporary transnational activism. The book traces the campaign around HIV/AIDS treatment, and the effort to abolish capital punishment in China. It explores some potential strategies for activists in China arising from realist or state-based factors, liberal or society-centred factors such as a network's own mobilizing structures, and ideational or issue characteristics.

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When and how are advocacy campaigns effective?
Stephen Noakes

This chapter adopts a wide-angle lens, culling factors pertinent to the results and processes of issue advocacy from among three paradigmatic families such as state preference-oriented, social preference-oriented, and norms-based. It articulates from the perspective of each a generalized hypothesis about when and why transnational advocacy network (TAN) campaigns are likely to be influential. State power has seldom been taken as seriously as is warranted in discussions about transnational civil society. The chapter illustrates each of the three paradigms clusters of causal factors across the fields of political science, international relations, and sociology. Discussion of each of these paradigms in turn is accompanied by remarks on how each might be expected to play out in the Chinese context. Explanations of effective advocacy based on political legitimacy comprise an alternate version of the liberal/society-oriented hypothesis.

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The ‘natural cases’ of the campaigns for Falun Gong and IPR protection
Stephen Noakes

Different advocacy campaigns achieve different results and take different functional forms. The Falun Gong campaign exemplifies the boomerang pattern elaborated by Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink in their classic work. The case of the campaign for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection is not an instance of the 'boomerang' at work, but nevertheless reflects a familiar pattern of transnational advocacy network (TAN) mobilization. State preferences for better IPR protection may be sufficiently strong to encourage cooperation with transnational actors on the issue, yet not always strong enough to enforce compliance within Chinese borders. Lacking an indigenous legal tradition of IPR protection, the concept of intellectual property traces its origins in China to the early twentieth century when it was introduced by colonial powers. Development of China's IPR framework was given a considerable nudge by anti-piracy agreements at the international level and Beijing's eagerness to be more integrated and compliant with them.

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Intercessory advocacy and causal process in the HIV/ AIDS treatment and death penalty abolitionist campaigns
Stephen Noakes

The 'critical' causal pattern demonstrated by the intellectual property rights (IPR) and Falun Gong campaigns is only one of many functional forms taken by transnational advocacy network (TAN) campaigns in China. This chapter explores another pathway, that of intercessory advocacy for qualitative changes in the content or implementation of policies already decided upon. The campaigns explored are those concerning the development of China's HIV/AIDS treatment regime and abolition of its death penalty. The campaign around HIV/AIDS treatment did succeed in pushing the state towards evidence-based treatment and prevention measures. While the death penalty persists in China despite the efforts of the abolitionist campaign, there is coincident reduction in the raw numbers of executions carried out in recent years. Transnational HIV/AIDS activists have clearly had an influence on the development of China's treatment regime, and, undoubtedly, have contributed to improvements in the lives of China's HIV sufferers.

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The ‘drift’ phenomenon in the ‘free Tibet’ and global warming campaigns
Stephen Noakes

This chapter shows how the phenomenon of advocacy drift can present itself in two sub-types, each caused in a different way by the political context in which the campaign operated. In the Tibetan case, the shift in moral principles resulted from repeated failure to achieve the desired results in the face of state intransigence on the Tibet question. Whereas in the global warming campaign, the migration of principles arose from the transnational advocacy network's willingness to negotiate and cooperate with the authorities such that the goals of activists were downgraded without undermining their commitment to helping the earth. In addition to shifting the nature of advocacy goals, Chinese intractability on the Tibetan independence issue had also contributed to fractionalization within the campaign over the preferred methods of advocacy. In the Tibetan independence case, the issue of domestic societal support, considered as confirmation of the liberal hypothesis, was a non-starter.

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How state preferences influence campaign forms
Stephen Noakes

Transnational advocacy campaigns come in a variety of forms and produce a variety of results. Given the prevalence of state preferences in the results and functional forms of campaigns, this chapter examines the character and origins of those preferences. It is the interaction of state preferences and transnational advocacy network (TAN) incentives to cooperate that produces the different forms of campaigns present in China. International institutions are primarily useful for TANs in situations where concrete policy regimes have already formed around an issue and, crucially, where China itself is a signatory to the accords embodied by those regimes. The intellectual property rights (IPR) campaign recognizes the importance of strengthened protection for the health of China's export-led economy, a crucial, if somewhat obvious, pillar of popular approval for the regime.

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State power as reality
Stephen Noakes

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book highlights many examples of China's ability to shape the way transnational advocacy is done. China's ability to shape the patterns and pathways of global campaigns has rippling consequences for understanding the full scope of its rise and its role in changing the face of world order. The book argues that forces that lie outside their control shape transnational advocacy network (TAN) campaigns, including the preferences of the very states they seek to change. It presents evidence that states play a central role in the (re)construction of idea-based networks and decisively influence patterns of transnational mobilization. The chapter explains the issue of how China's preferences originate within the context of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) legitimacy and, by extension, the stability and security of the regime.

in The advocacy trap