Policy Mobility and qujing(取经): –China’s search and adoption of sustainable building technology from abroad.

Authors: Yu Zhou*, Vassar College
Topics: Urban Geography, Asia, Political Geography
Keywords: Green Building, China, policy mobility, qujing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper seeks to bring into the conversation the global discourses of policy mobility and the Chinese indigenous notion and practice of qujing. Originated from the journey of the famous Tang dynasty monk Xuanzang (玄奘) to bring the Buddhism sutra from India to China, the term has been appropriated by generations of Chinese modern reformers and leaders to promote learning from foreign regions. While germane to the theoretical paradigm of policy mobility, this paper argues that qujing deserves special attention because it has been routinized within the Chinese bureaucracy as an expected and vital step of policy making in post-reform China. In contrast to the disproportionate attention that the current literature has paid to transnational agents, qujing emphasizes the initiative and autonomy of the learners through a reflexive and open-ended process of learning. In addition, qujing is flexible and pragmatic in ideological orientation and institutional compatibility so it can accommodate learning from different cultural and political contexts rather than just regions sharing similar ideological outlook. I use the development of China’s green building (GB) program as an example to show that viewing policy mobility as qujing shifts the attention from how a policy model is promoted and packaged by the transnational elite to how local parties initiate and sustain interests and how they evaluate outcomes and make strategic adjustments. While qujing starts as a one-way process, the results can generate a circular impact on the source and on broader regions of the world.

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