Political Science | Chinese Politics
Y333 | 16114 | Smith-Rippeon


There is a fierce debate amongst observers of China’s domestic
political scene: Is the Chinese state’s ability to effectively govern
growing or declining? Either trend has critical implications for the
rest of the world. A strong Chinese state, for better or worse, will
have greater influence over its neighbors and in international
institutions. A weak Chinese state will not be able to sustain
economic growth, protect the environment, or manage disputes among
conflicting interests, with clear negative spillover effects for the
world. This broad question will be considered through a discussion of
four topics: 1) Trends and patterns in elite politics; 2) The evolving
nature of the policymaking process; 3) Political activism among the
Chinese public; and 4)The relative likelihood of continued Communist
Party rule, democratization, or collapse in the near future. To better
understand China, we will regularly make comparisons with politics
elsewhere. We use secondary readings by outside observers, primary
documents by political insiders, media reports, and film
documentaries. No previous study of Chinese history or politics or
knowledge of the Chinese language is required. Requirements include 3
short papers, periodic quizzes, a final exam, and consistent attendance.