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

Course Description: 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 subsets of Chinese society; 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.