CHN10100 Chinese Politics and Media

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module is designed to help students understand the context, processes and issues relating to politics and media in contemporary China, and China's role in the international arena. It is split into three sections. The first three weeks provide historical context from the Republican era to the present day enabling an understanding of the changing nature of cultural and political aspects of China. Key figures such as Sun Yat-sen, Mao Tse-tung, and Deng Xiao-ping are discussed in the light of the socio-political impact they had. The following four weeks focus on the structure and role of the central government and its foreign policies past and present. The relationship between the government and the Party is discussed, as well as centre-periphery relations and governance within the provinces. China’s ‘style’ of international relations is discussed. The next three weeks look specifically at media in China - broadcasting, press and Internet – and discuss issues surrounding censorship, ownership and openness as well as the use of the Internet for new forms of political protest. The final week discusses China’s future challenges.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this module students should be able to:
(1) Describe the evolution of Chinese political structures over the past century
(2) Explain the relationship between state, party and society in contemporary China
(3) Explain China's role in world politics
(4) Evaluate the effectiveness of the Chinese political system
(5) Explain the broad landscape of the Chinese media environment

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Historical Context and Introduction to Chinese Politics - the overthrow of Dynasty and the Republican Era
Provides an overview of politics in China's past and the relevance historical events have on understanding China today. What themes can we see already in place or emerging from China’s Republican period? What Schools of Thought were around in the run-up to 1949? How might these be relevant in understanding China today?

Week 2: Historical Context and Introduction to Chinese Politics - China under Mao
What was Mao’s vision for the new China and what was the Soviet influence? When did Marxist/Leninism start to undergo a process of sinofication? How did Mao’s policies change following the split from the USSR? What was the impact of the Great Leap Forward, the 100 Flowers campaign and the Cultural Revolution?

Week 3: Historical Context and Introduction to Chinese Politics – Deng Xiaoping’s reforms
Looking at the master politician and tactician Deng. What were Deng’s key reforms? How did his successors maintain or modify the continuity of the reform despite pursuing radically different policies comparing to the Mao’s era?

Week 4: The Party State and Governance at the Centre
What are the basic organs and institutions of the Communist Party and of the Government? How can we understand the mechanisms that dominate Chinese politics? What are the policy making and politics in Beijing.

Week 5: Governance in the Provinces
A look at how policy from Beijing gets ignored or warped in the provinces around China. Looking at policy-making from the local perspective rather than nationally. Group discussion will lead this lecture by reviewing three policies which are causing challenges and problems for the development of China. Each group is expected to present analysis on the formation, implementation and reforms of one of the policies. Following questions are required to be answered during the discussion. What does the party-state at the local level look like, how does it work, and what is its relationship with the centre? What is the relationship between local and central party politics?

Group Readings (Each group choose one of the following articles for the discussion)
WANG, Z; et al. Ending an Era of Population Control in China: Was the One-Child Policy Ever Needed?. American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 75, 4, 929-979, Sept. 2016.
WONG, SW. Urbanization as a Process of State Building: Local Governance Reforms in China. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 39, 5, 912-926, Sept. 2015.
WU, L. Decentralization and hukou reforms in China, Policy and Society, 2013, v. 32, p. 33-42

Week 6: Governance in a globalising world – China’s Foreign Policy and International Relations
How does Beijing construct foreign policy amidst domestic and foreign expectations? What is China’s ‘style’ when it comes to international relations? How has this changed over the past few decades? How useful is Western IR theory in explaining China’s IR and what can we expect for the future?

Week 7 : Mid-term Presentations

Week 8: New Economic Relationship in a Changing World-China and the World (mid-term essay due)
How do China’s relations with other countries (both developed and developing)? We will look at specific case studies, such as China’s presence in Africa and the Sino-EU economic cooperation. Seminar discussion will lead this lecture by reviewing articles which illustrate China’s relations with the world. Each group is expected to present which claim/fact stated in the article-of-choice interests him/her the most and provide analysis.

Required Readings (Each group chooses one of the following articles for the discussion)

Chapter 1 and 9, Farnell, John, and Crookes, Paul Irwin. The Politics of EU-China Economic Relations : An Uneasy Partnership, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Large, Daniel. “Beyond 'Dragon in the Bush': The Study of China-Africa Relations.” African Affairs, vol. 107, no. 426, 2008, pp. 45–61. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Zhengyu Wu (2016) The Crowe Memorandum, the Rebalance to Asia, and Sino-US Relations, Journal of Strategic Studies, 39:3, 389-416, DOI: 10.1080/01402390.2016.1140648

Additional Readings
Singh, Swaran, ‘Limitations of India-China economic engagement’, in China report
Patricia Uberoi ‘India-China Initiatives in Multilateral Fora: Two Case Studies, in China Report
Ruchita Beri, ‘China’s rising profile in Africa, in China Report

Week 9: China’s future challenges?
How communist is China today and will it continue to be so? Are there still aspects of society associated with communism, such as collectivism, or is China now a country of individualists? What implications does the capitalist/communist mix have for the ways in which China is governed? What are the major challenges now facing China - politically, environmentally and economically?

Week 10: Media and censorship in China
How has China’s media developed since 1978 and how is it used in China today? How and to what extent does censorship prevail? Can we say that there is a developing ‘public sphere’ in China?

Week 11: Broadcasting and Press in China
What kinds of programming and press are most popular and why? How are they owned and controlled? We will look at some particularly successful TV formats (such as Win in China and Meteor Garden), as well as more traditional forms. We will also discuss some of the controversies that have challenged how the press operate.

Week 12: The Internet as a platform for protest
What channels exist for political participation in China? Are they sufficient to manage the various forms of demands, protests and unrest in China? What measures is the CCP taking to increase participation, and will they lead to democratization? Is society gaining more leverage vis-à-vis the state? What role does the Internet play in protest in China? What part does social media play in enabling protest?

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The contact hours for this course are divided between a lecture, group discussions and activities, and smaller tutorial sessions where more specific ideas and issues are worked on. Students should come to the seminars and tutorial prepared to discuss the assigned reading. It is essential that students stay up to date with readings to complete the course. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Chinese Politics and Media (BCHN10270)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Four short response papers of 500 to 1000 words each on four selected readings. Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: Each student will be required to hand in an essay of 1,000 words on a key topic regarding Chinese politics. Week 8 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Group Project: Each group (of 3 to 5 students) will give a 20 to 25 minutes presentation. Week 7 n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Attendance: Students are expected to attend lectures and engage in tutorial discussions to deepen their understanding of complicated political phenomena. Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

1. William A. Joseph,Politics in China: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2014/2nd Edition)
2. Tony Saich, Governance and Politics of China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011/3rd Edition)
3. Susan Shirk, Changing Media, Changing China (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Many of the required readings for this course will be taken from these books. It is essential that you have completed the reading before coming to class. In addition, there will be additional reading given out each week as the basis for discussion in the tutorial. This will normally be an article, or a chapter from another book, and will be available through library.
Name Role
Ms Xiaodong Li Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

Training Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Fri 12:00 - 13:50 Face to Face
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50 Face to Face