Project I: The Politics of Blood Collection

The dual power of blood was encapsulated in a few words 2500 years ago, when Euripides described how Asclepius, the God of Medicine, was given two drops of the Gorgon’s blood by Athena: one drop cured all ills and sustained lives while the other brought death.

Catherine Lalumière, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe

My first area of research examines the Chinese government’s incomplete efforts to secure the supply of human blood, a collective good that only comes from individuals’ bodies. Combining fieldwork, archives, and survey data, this project reveals how the Chinese government has attempted to secure a safe and adequate blood supply and why it has repeatedly fallen short of doing so.

In China’s Blood-Borne HIV Catastrophe Revisited, I find that preemptively, the Chinese government did not deem it necessary to act when risks were (mis)identified as noncritical, and reactively, it withheld information from the public while actively coping with the epidemic. As a result, the governance of health and safety was compromised.

In When Voluntary Donations Meet the State Monopoly: Understanding Blood Shortages in China, I show how the intricate interplay between government maneuvers and citizen reactions has led to blood shortages that are serious yet manageable. I argue that citizens’ distrust of government exacerbates blood shortages, which are ironically alleviated by the government’s mobilization of captive donors.

More broadly, a good society relies on its citizens’ contributions, such as donating blood and receiving vaccinations. Although voluntary compliance is seen as an optimal solution for achieving a collective good, its feasibility is in dispute. By delineating the ups and downs of voluntary blood donations in China throughout the decades, this project contributes to a refined understanding of voluntary compliance.

Project II: The Informative Value of Citizen Input

To resolve the dictator’s dilemma, the Chinese government encourages citizens to supply information. Of the wide-reaching information supplied, however, only a few pieces are selected out and considered politically significant. This project takes advantage of machine learning techniques and a close reading of textual data to uncover which types of citizen input are truly valued by the leadership. Working papers drawing from it have been presented at the Annual Conference of the European Political Science Association, the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, and the Zurich Text as Data Workshop.