Policy transfer and learning from the West: elite basketball development in the People's Republic of China

The article examines the engagement of the People’s Republic of China with global sport using basketball as an example. Following a discussion of the priority given to national elite team sport success in contemporary China, the article explores the range of mechanisms that facilitate sport globalization and focuses particularly on evaluating the utility of the concepts of policy transfer and lesson drawing. The examination of the concepts is achieved through the exploration of a series of questions relating to recent developments in basketball in China, including how the need for reform of the domestic system was recognized and articulated, who was instrumental in transferring policy, which countries were identified as suitable exemplars, and which policies were transferred. The article draws on data collected from a number of sources, including official government documents, news media, and a series of interviews with Chinese officials from key governmental organizations. The article concludes that the concepts of policy transfer and lesson drawing provide significant insight into the process of China’s engagement in basketball, and identifies a series of tensions arising from the process that affect contemporary sport policy.