Chinese Politics Part 1 – China and Political Science

About this course: This course offers a conceptual framework for understanding China that highlights the intersection of politics and economics. It shows that rather than develop into a full blown market economy, state and party officials at all levels of the political system maintain significant influence in economic development. Such a “political” economy has had both positive and negative outcomes, which we will assess in detail. We also look at the origins, views, backgrounds and relations among leaders, and how those leaders make decisions about public policy and try to get those decisions implemented down through the system. China has few formal institutions through which citizens can participate in politics, but we will study the strategies Chinese people use to try to influence their leaders’ decisions. Finally, we assess China’s future and whether rapid economic development and the emergence of a vibrant middle class will push China towards greater democracy or whether the single party system is likely to survive into the future. The course is a quite useful background for Chinese Politics Part 2 – China and the World.

Created by:  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

  • David Zweig
    Taught by:  David Zweig, Chair Professor of the Division of Social Science and Director of Center on China’s Transnational Relations
Commitment7 weeks of study, 3-4 hours/week
How To PassPass all graded assignments to complete the course.
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Average User Rating 4.8See what learners said
Orientation and Module 1: Models of the Chinese Political System and the Structure of the Chinese Party/State
Before you start with the content for Module 1, please watch the Course Overview, review the Assignments and Grading page, and introduce yourself to other learners who will be studying this course with you. 
9 videos3 readings
  1. Video: Course Overview
  2. Reading: Assignments and Grading
  3. Discussion Prompt: Meet and Greet
  4. Reading: Module 1 Required Pre-course Reading
  5. Video: 1.1: Categorizing the System through Models
  6. Video: 1.2: Bureaucratic Model and Chinese Politics
  7. Video: 1.3: The Structure of the Political System
  8. Video: 1.4: Key Party Structures
  9. Video: 1.5: Government and the Party
  10. Video: 1.6: China’s Legislature
  11. Video: 1.7: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China’s Military
  12. Video: 1.8: CCP Controls the Judiciary
  13. Reading: Module 1 Suggested Reading
Graded: Quiz 1
Module 2: Elite Politics in China
9 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 2.1: Elite Politics affects Economics and Business
  2. Video: 2.2: Leadership Values, Structures of Conflict and Political Stability
  3. Video: 2.3: Key Strategies for Elite Success and Elite Mobility in China
  4. Video: 2.4: Selection of Leaders: What do we know?
  5. Video: 2.5: Retired Leaders and the Succession Process
  6. Video: 2.6: New Leaders Bring Policy Changes
  7. Discussion Prompt: 2.6: Discussion
  8. Video: 2.7: Characteristics of Chinese Middle-level Leadership
  9. Discussion Prompt: 2.7: Discussion
  10. Video: 2.8: Generations among Chinese Elites
  11. Discussion Prompt: 2.8: Discussion
  12. Video: 2.9: International Experience of Top Chinese Leaders
  13. Reading: Module 2 Required Reading
Graded: Quiz 2
Module 3: Policy Process in China
8 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 3.1: Policy Process in Chinese Politics
  2. Video: 3.2: The Politics of Policy Making in China
  3. Discussion Prompt: 3.2: Discussion
  4. Video: 3.3: Selecting Policy Alternatives
  5. Video: 3.4: Making the Decision
  6. Video: 3.5: Social Interests and Policy Making
  7. Video: 3.6: Policy Implementation through Campaigns
  8. Video: 3.7: Local Response, Unintended Consequences and Policy Adjustment
  9. Discussion Prompt: 3.7: Discussion
  10. Video: 3.8: Policy Failures and Successes
  11. Reading: Module 3 Course Reading
Graded: Peer-reviewed Written Assignment 1
Module 4: Understanding Societal Engagement in Politics in China
9 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 4.1: Political Culture in China
  2. Video: 4.2: Political Culture as Empirically Measurable Variable
  3. Video: 4.3: Political Culture in Rural China
  4. Video: 4.4: Political Participation
  5. Video: 4.5: Details on the Modes of Participation
  6. Video: 4.6: Group Activity and Group Politics
  7. Video: 4.7: Collective Action and Protest
  8. Video: 4.8: Key Social Groups who Participate in Politics
  9. Video: 4.9: Concluding the Modes of Participation
  10. Reading: Module 4 Course Reading
Graded: Quiz 3
Module 5: China’s Domestic and International Political Economy
10 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 5.1: Six Components of China's Political Economy
  2. Video: 5.2: China’s Political Economy on the Eve of Reform
  3. Video: 5.3: Impact of Reforms on China’s Political Economy
  4. Video: 5.4: The Impact of Reform on Rural Income
  5. Video: 5.5: China’s Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs), 1984-1994
  6. Video: 5.6: Role of the Public Sector in China's Political Economy
  7. Video: 5.7: Central-Local Financial Relations
  8. Video: 5.8: China as a “Trading State”
  9. Video: 5.9: Dilemmas of a “Trading State”
  10. Video: 5.10: Chinese Firms “Going Out”
  11. Reading: Module 5 Course Reading
Graded: Peer-reviewed Written Assignment 2
Module 6: China’s Future: Democratization or “Flexible Authoritarianism”
12 videos1 reading
  1. Video: 6.1: China’s Future
  2. Video: 6.2: Scenario 1: Political Development and Democratic Transition
  3. Video: 6.3: Scenario 1: Further Forces for Political Development and Democratic Transition
  4. Video: 6.4: Lessons from Scenarios of Democratic Transition
  5. Video: 6.5: Scenario 2: Continued Market Leninism
  6. Video: 6.6: Constraints on Society and Ideology
  7. Video: 6.7: Xi Jinping’s Intense Attack on Corruption
  8. Video: 6.8: Jiang Zemin’s “Three Representatives” and the Role of the Middle Class
  9. Video: 6.9: Scenario 3: Collapse of the CCP
  10. Video: 6.10: Sources of Political Instability
  11. Video: 6.11: Inequality, Corruption and CCP Rule
  12. Video: 6.12: Conclusion
  13. Discussion Prompt: 6.12: Discussion
  14. Reading: Module 6 Course Reading
Graded: Quiz 4
Final Exam and Farewell
Now is time to test your understanding on the entire course. Take the final exam and complete the post-course survey. Your valuable feedback will certainly help us improve future iterations of the course. 
1 practice quiz
  1. Practice Quiz: Post-course Survey
Graded: Final Exam
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