Spring term 2001
Union College
Ted Gilman

This course will serve as an introduction to Chinese politics in three ways: it will introduce the key individuals and events in the People's Republic of China; it will introduce some of the main issues that have concerned China's leaders and citizens and the process by which they have been resolved; and it will introduce some of the principal scholars and debates in the study of Chinese politics.


We will concentrate on the post-1949 period of Chinese politics, looking at issues of elite politics, policymaking, political participation, and political change. We will consider changes and continuities between the Maoist era (1949-1976) and the post-Mao era of reform.

There are two types of readings in this course: books and electronic resources. Eight books are assigned nearly in their entirety and are available in the bookstore. They are listed here by the short-form title used in the reading list.

CPS. June T. Dreyer, China's Political System, 3rd edition (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1999).

Women. Tamara Jacka, Women's Work in Rural China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Emperor. Peter J. Seybolt, Throwing the Emperor from His Horse: Portrait of a Village Leader in China, 1923-1995 (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996).

Tiananmen. Lawrence R. Sullivan, ed., China Since Tiananmen (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1995).

Urban. Wenfang Tang & W. L. Parish, Chinese Urban Life Under Reform (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Courage. Wei Jingsheng, The Courage to Stand Alone: Letters from Prison and Other Writings (New York, NY: Viking, 1997).

Political Economy. Susumu Yabuki & S. M. Harner, China's New Political Economy, Revised edition (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999).

Farmers. Kate Xiao Zhou, How the Farmers Changed China (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996).

All assigned readings are required. They should be completed prior to the start of class on the assigned day.

Electronic resources will be an integral part of this course. There are many useful and interesting resources available through the Internet, and I will periodically send you relevant items which I treat as required reading. Furthermore, I will introduce you to some useful resources for your written assignments available on the World Wide Web.

Daily news from China will be an important part of this course. Since no American daily newspapers provide consistent and sufficient coverage of Chinese events and politics, I require you to check the web site of the major Chinese daily news agency to keep up on China's current events. The URL is:

Again, keeping up on current events in China is required reading! Make this site part of your daily routine. If you want further information about China, a good place to start is at:

This is the Far Eastern Economic Review, an excellent source for political and economic information on China.

Grading for this course will be based on three short papers, a take-home final examination (10-15 pages), and tri-weekly email to be submitted by the students to the instructor. The email assignments are as follows: The class will be divided into three groups. On alternate weeks, each group will submit questions before the first class of the week and short summary essays after the second class of the week. The questions should address issues in the readings, online resources, or current Chinese political events and affairs. Two to four questions and comments must be submitted via email to the instructor no later than 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday. The essays (no more than one page in length) should summarize the main points of the previous two class lectures and discussions. Summary essays are due by Friday at noon. These submissions will be used to construct class discussion. The grading percentages are as follows:

Weekly email submissions 10%

Class participation 10%

Short papers (15% each) 45%

Take-home final examination 35%

Finally, I want to emphasize the fact that this class is an interactive exercise. The more you participate, the better it will be. China is a controversial nation that affords plenty of material for good discussion. Dig in!

Boring Bureaucratic Stuff

All work must be completed in order to pass this course. No makeup or extra credit work will be allowed. No alternate final examination time will be offered. Attendance matters. For every unexcused absence, you will lose one-third of a grade off your final grade. Come to class.


I. The Maoist Era

Week 1 (4/3 & 4/5)

Origins of the Chinese Revolution, 1915-1949

Elite Politics and Policy Making, 1949-1976

CPS, Chapters 1-5.

Political Economy, Part 1.

Week 2 (4/10 & 4/12)

State and Society Relations in Rural China

Emperor, Chapters 1-6.

Farmers, pp. 1-52.

Week 3 (4/17 & 4/19)

The Legacy of Mao and the Maoist Era

Women, Chapter 2.

CPS, Chapters 9 & 13.

Political Economy, Part 2.

II. The Reform Era in Post-Mao China

Week 4 (4/24 & 4/26)

Elite Politics, 1976-1996

CPS, Chapter 6.

Courage, pp. 1-101.

Week 5 (5/1 & 5/3)

The State and Intellectuals in Post-Mao China

CPS, Chapters 8 & 12.

Courage, pp. 101-198.

Week 6 (5/8 & 5/10)

Rural Political and Social Reform in Post-Mao China

Women, Chapters 3-6.

Horse, Chapters 7-10.

Week 7 (5/15 & 5/17)

Rural Economic Reform in Post-Mao China

Women, Chapters 7-10.

Farmers, Chapters 5, 7, & 8.

Week 8 (5/22 & 5/24)

Urban Political Reform in Post-Mao China

Urban, Chapters 1, 2, 5, 7, & 8.

Week 9 (5/29 & 5/31)

Urban Economic Reform in Post-Mao China

Urban, Chapters 3, 4, 9, & 10.

Political Economy, Part 3.

Week 10 (6/5 & 6/7)

China's Foreign Affairs

CPS, Chapter 14.

Political Economy, Part 4.