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Abstract

This article juxtaposes world culture and policy borrowing and lending literatures to understand policy formation in China. Through reviewing China’s student nutrition policy evolution since the International Conference on Nutrition in 1992 to the launch of China’s landmark national rural student nutrition program in 2011, I examine what the key explanations to the policy developments in China were. This paper analyzes both quantitative and qualitative data from the MOE, State Council, and media sources, and draws on policy documents, scholarly publications, civil society activities, and international aid flows. Findings show that although neither world culture nor policy borrowing and lending frameworks could fully explain the case in China, local actors became increasingly active in student nutrition, as suggested by world culture theory, even when local conditions such as rural-urban poverty gaps were decreasing. In addition, the lack of international aid alignment and domestic politics may have led to the decoupling in policy and practice for China’s student nutrition agenda.