Securitizing infectious diseases in the People’s Republic of China: an analysis of the response of the central government to the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, 2009-2010

Navarro Garcia, Abraham (2018) Securitizing infectious diseases in the People’s Republic of China: an analysis of the response of the central government to the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, 2009-2010. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Amidst growing scholarly interest in global health governance and the securitization of infectious diseases, this thesis presents an analysis of the Chinese government’s response to the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009-2010. China is a crucial actor because of its growing economic and political influence in global health governance, the comparatively large size of its population, and because China is also considered to be the likely geographic site for the outbreak of a future flu pandemic. Although the existing literature has not explored the Chinese response to the pandemic in much detail, closer analysis reveals that Chinese officials implemented one of the harshest public-health responses in the world - even for Asian standards. Curiously, in contrast to securitization, they did not characterise pandemic influenza as a verified existential threat, but simultaneously as plausibly catastrophic and mild. In explaining the Chinese response to the H1N1 pandemic, the thesis explores three key factors: (1) the wider international context that China was operating in, (2) the political organisation of the country, and (3) its historical experience. Overall, the thesis argues, the harsh accent on containment in the response was motivated by a strong desire to internationally demonstrate the capacity of the country to deal with pandemic influenza, especially as a way of vindicating the tarnished image of China about its poor performance to control other epidemics. On the other hand, the equivocal comprehensive characterisation of the disease resulted from emerging evidence of the mildness of the disease and the caution of Chinese leaders to prevent social panic. The case study contributes to filling a gap in the literature about securitization applied to global health and China. It also highlights the relevance of historical experience to identify patterns of security frameworks. Contradictory evidence may emerge to recognize the occurrence of securitization when the characterisation of the alleged threat is not consistently existential, even when other criteria like the involvement of high authorities, the priority status of an issue, the implementation of disruptive measures, the allocation of special funds and the use of security language are identified. On the other hand, understanding securitization as defined by the existential nature of the threat or as open to an intensified interpretation affects the assessment of the evidence.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0551.2 Emergency management > HV0551.5.A-Z Other regions or countries, A-Z > HV0551.5.C4 China
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0648.5 Epidemics. Epidemiology. Quarantine. Disinfection > RA0650.7.A1 Asia > RA0650.7.C4 China
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 16:17
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2020 07:41
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/76374

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