Governing Health in Contemporary China: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Governing Health in Contemporary China

1st Edition

By Yanzhong Huang


192 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

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The lack of significant improvement in people’s health status and other mounting health challenges in China raise a puzzling question about the country’s internal transition: why did the reform-induced dynamics produce an economic miracle, but fail to reproduce the success Mao had achieved in the health sector? This book examines the political and policy dynamics of health governance in post-Mao China. It explores the political-institutional roots of the public health and health care challenges and the evolution of the leaders’ policy response in contemporary China. It argues that reform-induced institutional dynamics, when interacting with Maoist health policy structure in an authoritarian setting, have not only contributed to the rising health challenges in contemporary China, but also shaped the patterns and outcomes of China’s health system transition. The study of China’s health governance will further our understanding of the evolving political system in China and the complexities of China’s rise. As the world economy and international security are increasingly vulnerable to major disease outbreaks in China, it also sheds critical light on China’s role in global health governance.


'Yanzhong Huang's book reflects a deep knowledge of Western theories as well as of Chinese political processes. On the basis of a decade of research, he traces the changes taking places in China in the politics of health policy as 'buck-passing' replaces 'bandwagoning'.' - Ezra F. Vogel, Harvard University, USA and author of Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

'Yanzhong Huang has written an important book. He asks—Why have Chinese public health indicators failed to match China's economic performance in the reform era? Indeed, why have they failed to match Mao's performance? The answer resides in the buck-passing, fragmented, unaccountable system that has developed. Public health improvement requires political change. I recommend this book highly.' David M. Lampton, Johns Hopkins SAIS, USA and Author of The Politics of Medicine in China

'This is a meticulously researched book that has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of the crisis in China's healthcare sector. Yanzhong Huang's research is not only theoretically original, but also insightful in its analysis of the underlying causes of the poor delivery of social services in post-Mao China.' — Minxin Pei, Claremont McKenna College and author of China’s Trapped Transition: The Limits of Developmental Autocracy

'Ever since the SARS epidemic of 2003 lifted the curtain to reveal the extent of horrors and ineptitude in China’s system outsiders have puzzled over why health has remained an Achilles Heel of the transforming state. Yanzhong Huang is arguably the only expert able to solve this paradox, offering bold and startling insights. This is a must-read for anybody interested in global health, pandemic control, or the future of the Chinese state.' Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations, USA and author of Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health

'Yanzhong Huang’s book is a welcome addition to the growing number of scholarly studies on the consequences and impact of post-Mao reforms – in this case, on developments in China’s health care sector…Huang’s book offers a critical evaluation of the factors contributing to the crises in the delivery of health care and the government’s attempts to deal with the challenges of rebuilding a viable health care system in the transition to a market economy.' - Ka-che Yip, University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA (China Information 2013)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Health Governance under Mao (1949-1976) 3. Providing Care for all: Health Care Reforms in Post-Mao China 4. Harnessing the Fourth Horseman: Capacity Building in Disease Control and Prevention 5. Building Ship at Sea: Food and Drug Safety Regulation 6. Conclusions and Implications

About the Author

Yanzhong Huang is an Associate Professor at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University, and a Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also the founding editor of Global Health Governance: The Scholarly Journal for the New Health Security Paradigm.

About the Series

China Policy Series

With the rise of China and its impact on the world, interest in China has increased drastically in recent years. This series focuses on policy-oriented research and scholarly works with policy implications, on all aspects of contemporary Chinese economy, politics, society, environment, journalism and cultures.  It also covers China’s foreign relations with major international organizations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and World Bank, and major powers such as the United States, European Union (and its member states), Japan and others.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies