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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Susan H. Whiting
POL S 442
Seattle Campus

Government and Politics of China

Post-1949 government and politics, with emphasis on problems of political change in modern China. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 408.

Class description

Description: Is China, now the second largest economy in the world and a growing global power, the newest capitalist wonderland or the next evil empire? Following the U.S. media, it's easy to get confused. This course will help you get beneath media rhetoric about the Middle Kingdom by taking a closer look at the Chinese polity, society, and economy, informed by social science theory. We will address a number of important issues, including 1) the roots of the revolution that led to the establishment of the People's Republic, 2) the human and institutional legacies of a planned economy and Leninist political system, 3) the nature of the transition to a more market-oriented economy, 4) the potential for democratization in a more open polity, 5) the impact of the reforms on the environment, labor, and society more broadly, and, last but certainly not least, 6) Chinese nationalism, China-Taiwan relations, and US-China relations at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Throughout the course you will gain familiarity not only with relevant scholarly literature but also with some of the primary sources on which such scholarship is based.

Student learning goals

Students will have a working knowledge of the institutions in state and society in China and how they function

Students will understand how China's modern history shapes current politics and institutions

Students will understand the factors shaping China's political evolution and economic growth.

Students will be exposed to social science theories regarding revolutionary change, nationalism, institutions/institutional change, and democratization

Students will be able to use primary sources as evidence for building and evaluating arguments

General method of instruction

Lecture/discussion

Recommended preparation

200-level coursework in Political Science, International Studies, or other social science discipline is useful but not required.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments: Course requirements include completion of assigned readings and attendance at class and participation in class exercises, as well as mid-term and final exams, and a term paper.

Grading: class assignments (25%); a midterm exam (25%); a comprehensive final exam (25%); and a term paper not to exceed 10 double-spaced pages in length (25%).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Susan H. Whiting
Date: 02/17/2012