POL S 442 A: Government and Politics of China

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 2:20pm - 5:00pm
JHN 022
Joint Sections: 
JSIS A 408 A
Susan Whiting
Susan H. Whiting
Optional W credit.

Syllabus Description:

The Summer 2019 syllabus is here

Course Description

   China is now the second largest economy in the world and a growing global power; at the same time, it faces considerable governance challenges at home and an increasingly wary international community abroad. This course will help you understand the rise of China. It provides an in-depth analysis of the political history, contemporary institutions, and governance issues facing China today. 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 challenges facing China today, including labor and environmental conditions, local aspects of trade and technology, inequality and social welfare, minority rights, contemporary nationalism, and newly assertive local identities.

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, and activities, to be introduced in class. All forms of participation together constitute 25% of the final grade.

   Second, students will take a test after each of the three parts of the course: Monday, August 5th (15%), Wednesday August 14th (15%), and Thursday, August 22nd (20%). The third test 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 final group project is required (25%). The project is an opportunity to explore a facet of governance in greater depth. It is designed to work well in the concentrated summer schedule with some class time allocated to this purpose. Students will be able to select a topic from a set of options to be introduced in class. Students will work in small groups to conduct guided research on their topic, develop an evidence-based argument, and present their findings in class on Thursday, August 22nd.

Course Materials

   Digital resources available in the UW Library E-Journals and E-books collections are marked “full text online.” Additional readings are available through Canvas.

Office Hours

   Monday-Thursday 5:00-5:30pm 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: 
Comparative Politics Field
Political Economy Option
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
August 8, 2019 - 9:05pm