Revised January 22, 2012
Description: This course provides a general introduction at the undergraduate level to Chinese politics in its societal context. A major task of the course will be to convey a concrete appreciation of a very different societal reality and how it interacts with an equally distinctive political system. We will also present an overview of Chinese politics, and discuss China’s changing role in Asia and the world. It is expected that this will be the first course that students have taken on contemporary China.
Program: After a brief introduction to Chinese thinking about politics the course will consider developments in Chinese politics from the perspective of rural villages. Students will be expected to read all of Chen Village, an account of a village from the 1950s to the 1980s, as well as other materials on China’s rural revolution (1927-1949) and the current situation of rural areas. The second part of the course will be a general overview of Chinese politics. In the last part of the course we will consider the dimensions of China’s external relations.
Requirements: This is an introductory lecture class, but students are encouraged to participate actively in class and in the discussion sessions. It is expected that assignments will be read on time and critically. There will be an in-class exam and a final exam in the same format. Both tests will have short answer questions as well as a choice of essay questions. The tests will each count for 40% of the final grade and 20% will be based on class participation in both the lecture and the discussion sessions. Explanations of the test structure and grading are posted on Toolkit. Special exam times will be permitted only with prior permission, and unexcused absenteeism will be penalized.
Books in the Bookstore (schedule acronym in parentheses)
Anita Chan, Jonathan Unger and Richard Madsen, Chen Village Revolution to Globalization. Berkeley, 2009. (CV)
Brantly Womack, ed., China’s Rise in Historical Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield, 2010 (W)
Melvin Goldstein, The Snow Lion and the Dragon. Berkeley (G)
David Kang (K) China Rising Columbia
Additional materials (all of these are available through the course website. Additional materials may be assigned).
2 Mao Zedong [Mao Tse-tung], “Oppose Book Worship;” “Be Concerned With the Well-Being of the Masses,” “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship.”
2 Brantly Womack, “From Urban Radical to Rural Revolutionary” in Timothy Cheek, ed., Cambridge Critical Introduction to Mao Zedong (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 61-86.
3 “Phases of Chinese politics” spreadsheet
3 Canton youth decision tree
4 Ethan Michelson, “Public Goods and State Society Relations”, Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, Indiana University, Working Paper #4.
5 Amartya Sen, ” Quality of Life: India vs. China,” New York Review, May 12, 2011.
6 Organization charts
6 Kerry Dumbaugh, “Understanding China’s Political System”
6 Yu Keping, “Democracy is a Good Thing,” in Yu Keping, Democracy is a Good Thing (Washington: Brookings, 2009), pp. 3-5.
6 Brantly Womack, “Democracy and the Governing Party (执政党): A Theoretical Perspective,” Journal of Chinese Political Science 10:1 (April 2005), pp. 23-42.
7 Brantly Womack, “Political Reform and Sustainable Development in China,” Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences 3:1 (March 2010), pp. 32-54.*
9 Brantly Womack, Resolving Asymmetric Stalemate: The case of the Tibetan Question,” Journal of Contemporary China, no. 52 (August 2007), pp. 443-460.
10 Link to Economist, “Provinces as Countries.”
10 Brantly Womack, “China between Region and World,” China Journal no. 61 (January 2009), pp. 1-20.
11 Robert Sutter, “Taiwan’s Future: Narrowing Straits,” NBR Analysis, 2011.
11 Brantly Womack, “China and Southeast Asia: Asymmetry, Leadership and Normalcy,” Pacific Affairs 76:3 (Winter 2003-4), pp. 529-48.
11 Brantly Womack, “The Spratlys: From Dangerous Ground to Apple of Discord,” Contemporary South East Asia 33:3 2011), pp. 370-387.
12 Yinan He, “National Mythmaking and the Problems of History in Sino-Japanese Relations,” in Lam, Peng Er, Japan‘s relations with China : facing a rising power. 2006
13 Major dates in US-China relations
13 Jeffrey Legro, “What China will Want,” Perspectives on Politics 5:3 (September 2007), pp. 515-534.
13 Brantly Womack, “United States and China’s Rise: Parity and the Accommodation of Civilizations,” in Brantly Womack, China among Unequals: Asymmetric Foreign Relations in Asia. Singapore: World Scientific Press, 2010, pp. 343-368.
14 Albert Keidel, China’s Economic Rise: Fact and Fiction,” Carnegie, 2008.
14 Theodore Moran, “Is Chinese Dominance Distorting Natural Resource Markets?” East Asia Forum, September 26, 2010.
14 David Pilling, “How Being Big Helps and Hurts China,” Financial Times, October 6, 2010.
14 Justin Lin, “China, the Leading Dragon of the World Economy,”
14 Brantly Womack, “Beyond Win-Win,” ms
3 Carma Hinton, Small Happiness
7 Carma Hinton, Gate of Heavenly Peace
Week Mon Wed Topic Reading
1 1/18 Course intro W Intro, 1-16.
2 /23 Chinese ways of politics W Ch 1 Esherick, 9 Schoppa,
/25 Rural revolution in China Mao Zedong, Womack
3 /30 rural life in transition Small Happiness (in class documentary)
2/1 From 1949 to Cultural Revolution CV, -235 Phases, decision tree
4 /6 Chen Village in reform ChenV, 236-329
/8 The reform era Michelson, ChenV 330-396
5 /13 economic transformation of China W Ch 5 Perkins, Ch 7 Elvin
/15 economic transformation continued W Ch 6 Naughton, 8 Downs, Sen
6 /20 Political system Dumbaugh; org charts
W Ch 10 Fewsmith
/22 Political system continued Yu Keping: Womack
7 /27 challenges of sustainability Womack
/29 Tiananmen (documentary)
8 3/12 Test 1: Short Answer Questions
/14 Test 2: Essay Questions
9 /19 Tibet and diversity challenges Goldstein (G)
/21 Tibet continued Womack
10 /26 China betw Region and World Womack; “Provs as Countries”
/28 China Rising: Kang (K),1-75
11 4/2 Taiwan K 79-103; Sutter
/4 China and Southeast Asia K 126-152; Womack (2)
12 /9 China Korea K 104-125
/11 China Japan K 153-182; Yinan He
13 /16 China-US history Major dates
/18 China-US Challenges Legro, Womack
14 /23 Structure of econ relations Keidel, Pilling, Moran
/25 China and global financial crisis Womack
15 /30 Summary
FINAL EXAM: THURS, MAY 10, 9-12