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China in World Politics: conflict or cooperation



Purpose: 1. Introduction to the major themes, debates, and puzzles in explaining Chinese foreign policy behavior. 2. Familiarization with methodological challenges of studying Chinese politics and authoritarian states more broadly.

Content: This course examines the causes and consequences of Beijing’s foreign policy. Although there is a strong focus on contemporary politics, we will also spend considerable time and energy on understanding the previous century of change and upheaval of greater China. Students do not need to have any previous knowledge about China.
The course is divided into two parts. The first part covers the period from the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 to the end of the 1980s. The second part examines key factors in explaining China’s foreign policy during the last twenty years. This includes basic developments in China’s bilateral relations with other states (particularly the US and Soviet Union/Russia), and China’s relations with other actors in international politics, such as the European Union.

Methods of Instruction

Generally speaking the instructor will begin the class with a lecture, followed by an open discussion. During the open discussion, students are asked to react to each other’s discussion questions submitted before each session. During this period of the class the instructor will act more as moderator.

Study Material

Core readings include the following books. From February onwards they are all on reserve (study shelf) at the FSW library:

Lieberthal, Kenneth. 2004. Governing China: From Revolution through Reform: WW Norton New York.

Barnett, A.D. 1977. China and the Major Powers in East Asia: Brookings Institution Press.

Spence, Jonathan .1999. The Search for Modern China, 2nd edition. W.W. Norton. New York.

Russett, Bruce.M. and Starr, Harvey. 2006. World politics: The menu for choice: Wadsworth Pub Co. (various editions).


Grades for this course are composed of one take-home essay (25%); two literature reviews due at the beginning of class (25% each); discussion questions and participation (25%).


Wednesday 5 February until 21 May, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 1A22

Entrance Requirements