CCCH9045 China: Culture, State and Society
‘Superpower’: Engaging with the Global Implications of China’s Rise


Course Description

The Liberal West is in crisis. From the economic to the political domain, the consensus brokered from Washington of free trade, globalization and democracy appears to be in tatters. But is China ready to take over and lead the world? Or will the geopolitical footprint of its rise be purely regional? Could China become a superpower, like the USA, by promising peace and prosperity to the world, or will it focus on (re)building an Asian Empire? Is it even the wish of China and its leadership to become a superpower? This course will ask what the roles and responsibilities of a superpower in the 21st century are and whether China is likely to live up to them, given its turbulent history. In an interdisciplinary manner, the course explores the question of the Rise of China from an historical and contemporary perspective by asking what we might consider a ‘superpower’ to be.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss major factors shaping the development of Sino-American relations.
  2. Explain major problems and controversies relating to the ‘China Model’ and the possibility of Chinese hegemony, regionally and globally.
  3. Analyze and explain the concept of a ‘superpower’ from different perspectives.
  4. Critically discuss China’s foreign policies, in relation to the concept of a ‘superpower’.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First Semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Reading / Self-study 38
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 30
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 20
Total: 120

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation 30
Group work 30
Project 40

Required Reading and Viewing

Recommended Reading

  • Bell, D. A. (2015). The China model: Political meritocracy and the limits of democracy.
  • Fukuyama, F. (1989, Summer). The End of History?. The National Interest. From http://www.wesjones.com/eoh.htm [Essay]
  • Hunt, M. (2007). The American ascendancy: How the United States gained and wielded global dominance. The University of North Carolina Press.
  • Huntington, S. P. (1993, Summer). The clash of civilizations?. Foreign Affairs. From http://users.metu.edu.tr/utuba/Huntington.pdf
  • Shambaugh, D. (Ed.). (2012). Tangled titans: The United States and China. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Shirk, S. (2008). China: Fragile superpower. Oxford University Press. [Chap. 8]
  • Westad, O. A. (2012). Restless empire: China and the world since 1750.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J.P. Johansson Vig
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 7935
Email: pejoh@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J.P. Johansson Vig
School of Humanities (History), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 7935
Email: pejoh@hku.hk