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This is a broad, historically-based survey course of Chinese politics. It is designed to offer an overview of and background to, contemporary Mainland Chinese politics and society. It is more historically oriented than many of the other survey courses offered in the Politics program. This emphasis on history is deliberate. We shall begin with the development of the Communist Party and its escape from the Shanghai massacre through to its period of governance in rural China, examining the background to the Long March in the process. This will be followed by a look at the Yan'an period in communist history - a time of ideological reformation and Mao Zedong's rise to power. The experience gained by the Party during this period served as a dream-model of how the country would be run in the future socialist state. This will bring us to the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949, and the adoption of the Soviet model of economic planning and governance. The study of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution will focus on the intense, revolutionary and binary politics behind these two campaigns. Then we will look at the reasons Mao initiated these campaigns and why they failed. The transition China has undergone since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 will form an important part of this course. From a state dominated by a revolutionary politics of commitment China has become a society that is almost entirely market driven. This transition from politics to economics is almost a parable of our post 9/11 times. Chinese politics gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the two types of politics that dominate our world. Chinese politics also gives us a chance to see how one state moved from a social dynamic that was intense, revolutionary and binary in form to one in which money and the commodity dominates. It also allows us to see how a politics of commitment can give way to the appearance of apolitical policy.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- Have a thorough understanding of political developments in China in all their ideological and social complexity. In addition, students should be able to identify the roles played by the leading personalities in the politics of contemporary China;
- Demonstrate sound knowledge of China's political structure and the evolving relationship between the state and society in modern day China;
- Be able to locate, collate and analyse data on the People's Republic of China and write intelligently about political and social developments in that country;
- Demonstrate the ability to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays;
- Be able to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgements and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations;
- Be able to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision.
Last updated: 15 September 2023