Social and Political Development in China

Social and Political Development in China

Zhejiang University



Professor: Junhua Zhang,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University


Course Overview:

The world has been witnessing a great shift in power since the end of the Cold War. China’s rise has contributed greatly to change in the geopolitical landscape worldwide. As an authoritarian state, China has undergone a seemingly successful process of modernization without giving up its power monopoly. Such a “marriage” between modern authoritarianism and capitalist market economy has posed an enormous challenge to today’s world order, in which a certain inherent connection between market economy and democracy is taken for granted.

This seminar intends to deal with a set of questions which reflect various aspects of political science: Why could China’s developmentalist approach become so successful? To which extent China’s approach differs from other types of developmentalism in East Asia? What kind of obstacles China is facing in its further development today and in future? What is the implication of China’s rise, politically, economically and also from a point of view of security policy? Can China become a model for late-comer countries?

While dealing with the questions mentioned above, students are encouraged to develop their own skills and interdisciplinary methodological approaches in conducting in-depth analysis. In addition, shaping a certain framework of theories regarding modern authoritarianism, international relations and political economy will also be one of the program’s objectives. In short, the workshop will open a new perspective which helps to understand the global trend of development.


Learning goals:

(1)understand the interaction between politics and economics, especially in a Chinese context.
(2)understand some basic theories such as modern authoritarianism, developmentalism, democratization in a comparative perspective (China, South Korea, Taiwan)
(3) understand China’s develomentalist approach and the shift from a GDP-orientation to a more balanced development.
(5) develop both oral and written communication skills to facilitate systematic analysis and effective consideration of these complex issues


Required Readings:

Selected chapters of 3-4 books
Articles which will be regularly sent to students.

Course Requirements and Grading Distribution
Participation, Attendance, Engagement 20%
Presentations 20%
Final research paper 60%

Presentation - Integrating an Additional Reference with the Assigned Reading:
Each student will have one opportunity to initiate the class session with a 15-30 minutes presentation prepared in advance with another student or alone. The presenting student(s) will be responsible for reporting on at least one additional reading and integrating the presentation of this additional reading with the required readings. These presentations should NOT be a simple summary of the readings, but should integrate and synthesize the assigned readings, report on an additional related resource, and conduct in-depth analysis.


Final Research Paper:

The final research paper provides an opportunity for each student to explore in more depth one aspect of the challenges associated with Chinese politics, economy and society. This final paper can address and explore a research question that expands on the previous presentation.



Session I Introduction to Political Science, comparative politics and some basic notions  
Oct 8
Session II Developmentalism and development strategy in China  
Oct. 15
Session III Understanding modern authoritarianism – a comparison between China and Russia  
Oct. 22
Session IV CCP’s adaptiveness at central level and a pressurized evaluation system at the local level. 
Oct. 29
Session V A visible hand - The Party and China’s entrepreneurship  
Nov. 5
Session VI Chinese nationalism and its impact on politics and economy 
Nov. 12
Session VII  Censorship and a tacit deal between the Party and muted intellectuals 
Nov. 19
Session VIII China’s efforts in reinventing cutting-edge technology - A case study of the country’s high speed rail

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