China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) marks a vital step for the country to integrate into the international economic regime. Much attention so far has been paid to the potential impact of WTO membership on the domestic and international economy and to the issue of China's future implementation after the accession. However, there have been limited and inadequate efforts to establish a convincing explanatory framework for the WTO policymaking process, which has significant theoretical and empirical implications and ramifications. To avoid the methodological weakness of a reductionist unitary state asserted by the traditional statist literature, this study applies a general statist framework while incorporating institutional, international and constructivist approaches to examine the institutional, structural and ideational factors significant in shaping the dynamics of the policy process in this case. This research aims to unpack the
'black box' of the Chinese monolithic state and explore the arena of China's WTO policy in a broader context of economic liberalisation and internationalisation that has unfolded in the last two decades. It seeks to explain the opportunities, determinants and constraints of the policy process, to examine the roles various actors played and the evolution of and the interaction among actors' ideas, preferences, institutional structure and power configurations in the policy process. This study also seeks to assess implications of China's WTO accession on the state-society relationship, the economic transition, and associated political transformation. On the basis of the literature and a series of interviews with Chinese government officials who were directly involved in the policymaking process and external negotiations, 1 argue that China's WTO policymaking is a state-led, leadership-driven and top-down process. A reformist-dominated leadership was the initiator and driver of China's
WTO quest, steering the accession to the end. Facing the deprivation of administrative privileges and economic interests, a largely resistant bureaucracy exploited the fragmented power structure and slowed process of internal consensus building into foot-dragging bargaining. However, the reluctant and resistant bureaucracy failed to derail the WTO entry due to the direct and personal participation of the political elite. On the other hand, provincial/local governments and societal actors other than the large state enterprises were largely excluded from the policy arena. The accession process was also a two-level game between domestic and foreign actors in an increasingly globalised international system. In examining the variables in the WTO policy process, this study provides a theoretically informed and innovative analysis of China's foreign economic policymaking regime and sheds light on the contemporary debates relating to state and institutionalist theory.