ASTK18410U Contemporary Chinese Politics and foreign Policy

Volume 2022/2023

MSc in Political Science

MSc in Social Science

MSc in Security Risk Management

Bachelor in Political Science


Notice: It is only possible to enroll for one course having a 3-day compulsory written take-home assignment exam due to coincident exam periods.




This course is designed for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students to grasp an in-depth understanding on contemporary Chinese politics and the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic and foreign policy behavior. This course will engage with both International Relations and Comparative Politics scholarships as well as the Chinese Studies literature.


  • Students will learn historical events since 1949 and major political, social, and economic trends in the country.
  • Also, students will learn the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic and foreign policy behavior.
  • Students will explain these events, trends, and policy behavior with major theories in Comparative Politics and International Relations.
  • By learning China’s domestic and foreign policy behavior, students will predict China’s role in world affairs.
  • This course will NOT have in-depth discusses about the IR grand theories.


I do not recommend this course to students who want to learn ONLY about inter-state power relations without understanding domestic policy-making processes in China

Learning Outcome


  • Students will gain knowledge on major historical events in China since 1949.
  • Students will gain knowledge on major political, economic, and social trends in China.
  • Students will learn major IR and CP theories.
  • Students will gain knowledge on China’s policy-making processes.
  • Students will gain knowlege on China’s role in world affairs.


  • With class discussions and debates, students will develop public speaking skills.
  • Through class discussions, students will develop logical and critical thinking skills.
  • Through the close reading of the class materials, students will gain reading comprehension.


  • By applying theories in the political science scholarship to real-world examples, students are expected to develop the skill set of how to interpret significant world events with theories they learned at school.

Preliminary readings:

  • William Joseph, ed., Politics in China: an Introduction (3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War (UNC, 2001), pp. 49-64.
  • Yang Jisheng, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-62 (2008)    pp. 3-22.
  • EzraVogel,DengXiaoping&theTransformationofChina,pp.1-14.
  • Martin Whyte, “China’s Post-Socialist Inequality,” Current History (2012), 229-234.
  • Elizabeth Perry, “Permanent Rebellion? Continuities and Discontinuities in Chinese Protest,” in Kevin O’Brien, Popular Protest in China (Harvard, 2008), pp. 205-215.
  • Sheena Chestnut Greitens, “Authoritarianism Online,” PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 46, No. 2 (April 2013), pp. 262-270.
  • Zhao Suisheng, “State-Led Nationalism: The Patriotic Education Campaign in Post-Tiananmen China,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 31/3 (1998), pp. 287-302.
  • Jessica Chen Weiss, “How Hawkish is the Chinese Public?” Journal of Contemporary China (2019), pp. 1-17.
  • Ann Kent, “China’s International Socialization: The Role of International Organizations,” Global Governance, Vol. 8 (2002), pp. 343-364.
  • M. Taylor Fravel, “Power Shifts and Escalation: Explaining China’s Use of Force in Territorial Disputes,” International Security, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Winter 2007-8), pp. 44-83.
  • Alastair Iain Johnston, “How New and Assertive is China’s New Assertiveness?” International Security, Vol. 37, No. 4 (2013), pp. 7-48.
  • Michael Oksenberg, “Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong in Sino-US Relations,” in Ezra Vogel ed., Living with China (Norton, 1997), pp. 53-61.
  • Aaron Friedberg, “The Future of U.S.-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?,” International Security 30:2 (Fall 2005), pp. 7-45.
Students must complete an introductory course in international relations and comparative politics before taking this class.
Every weekly class session will start with a lecture by the instructor. The instructor will present core questions, concepts, and relevant issues. Then, students will be divided into small groups to discuss the core topic. Finally, students will present their answers as a group.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Type of assessment details
Three-day compulsory written take-home assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Three-day compulsory written take-home assignment

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assesment

Criteria for exam assesment

  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner