POL S 442 A: Government And Politics Of China

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SMI 211
Joint Sections: 
JSIS A 408 A
Susan Whiting
Susan H. Whiting

Syllabus Description:

The Autumn 2017 syllabus is here

Course Description

   China is now the world’s second largest economy and a growing global power; at the same time, it faces considerable governance challenges. This upper-division course provides an in-depth analysis of the political history, institutions, and governance issues facing China. It highlights several major themes from the twentieth century to the present: the role of nationalism, the changing place of markets and private property, and the shifting penetration of the state from the center to the grassroots. The first part of the course addresses China’s modern political history and provides an essential foundation for subsequent topics. It addresses the collapse of imperial China in social and ideological terms, the formation of political parties, revolutionary change, state-building, the planned economy, and the re-introduction of markets. The second part of the course focuses on the political institutions that govern China today, including the organization of the party-state, how the state controls its own agents, how it uses elections, and how it attempts to control civil society and the media. The final part of the course uses the foundations of political history and political institutions to analyze crucial issues facing China today, including labor and environmental conditions, inequality and social welfare, minority rights, contemporary nationalism, and relations with Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Course Requirements

   The first requirement of the course is participation. The more actively you participate, the more you learn.  Successful participation is based on completion of all readings, assignments, quizzes, and in-class activities, including the in-class debate on Tuesday, November 21st. All forms of participation together constitute 25% of the final grade.

   Second, students will take an in-class midterm exam (25%) on Thursday, October 26th and an online final exam (25%) on Friday, December 15th. The final exam allows you to integrate what you learned in the first two sections of the course on political history and institutions and apply it to analyzing China’s contemporary governance challenges.

   Third, a term paper—not to exceed 10 double-spaced pages—is required (25%). The term paper is an opportunity to explore a facet of governance in greater depth and to develop an argument based on evidence. Paper topics will be introduced on Thursday, November 2nd. A preliminary bibliography with two scholarly, peer-reviewed sources is due on Tuesday, November 7th. An annotation of one scholarly, peer-reviewed source from your bibliography is due on Thursday, November 9th. A draft introduction with thesis statement is due on Thursday, November 30th. The term paper itself is due on Monday, December 11th. All submissions will be through Canvas. Unexcused late papers will be marked down 0.1 point per day.

Course Materials

   Assigned reading selections are available on Canvas. Journal articles marked “full text online” are available in the UW Library E-Journals collection.

Office Hours

   Wednesdays and Thursdays 11:00am-12:00noon and by appointment in 147 Gowen Hall.


Catalog Description: 
Post-1949 government and politics, with emphasis on problems of political change in modern China. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 408.
Department Requirements: 
Political Economy Option
Comparative Politics Field
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:45pm