CCCH9010 China: Culture, State and Society
Understanding China’s Governance: Challenges and Prospects


Course Description

In order to understand the prospect of China’s quest for modernity, this course examines the key governance challenges that have emerged during its transition from a socialist system to an increasingly marketized economy and diversified society. The course has three parts. Part I introduces contending analytical perspectives on the governance of transitional political systems, such as the gradualist reform model, the developmental state model and the crony capitalism model. Part II first analyzes the causes, scale and dynamics of several governance challenges facing contemporary China, namely legitimacy challenges, regulatory challenges, distributive challenges and external challenges, and then examines the policies of the Chinese government in tackling these critical issues and applies the different analytical perspectives in evaluating their efforts. Part III concludes the course by comparing the developmental trajectories and experiences in China with those in other developing countries.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain the key arguments of major theoretical perspectives on the governance of transitional and emerging economies, and critically assess their relative strengths and weaknesses in interpreting China’s developmental experience.
  2. Identify the causes, scale and characteristics of the key governance challenges facing contemporary China, and understand the difficulties that China faces in tackling them.
  3. Analyze why the Chinese government has adopted a particular set of policy measures in coping with such challenges, examine the political considerations and consequences of these policy choices, and critically evaluate their effectiveness and impacts.
  4. Compare and contrast the developmental trajectories and governance challenges in China and other emerging economies.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to collect information, analyze  data and arguments, and write up findings and arguments.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 65
Assessment: Essay writing 45
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 14
Total: 160

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation 25
Presentation 10
Short paper assignment 35
In-class test 30

Required Reading

  • Bardhan, P. (2009). India and China: Governance issues and development. The Journal of Asian Studies, 68(2), 347-357.
  • Chu, Y. W. (Ed.). (2016). The Asian developmental state: Reexaminations and new departures. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. [Chap. 9]
  • deLisle, J., & Goldstein, A. (Eds.). (2015). China’s challenges. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. [Chap. 7 & 9]
  • Guo, S. (2013). Chinese politics and government: Power, ideology, and organization. London: Routledge. [Chap. 12]
  • Joseph, W. A. (Ed.). (2014). Politics in China: An introduction (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Chaps. 4 & 6]
  • Pei, M. (2016). China’s crony capitalism: The dynamics of regime decay. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [Chap. 1]
  • Ross, R. S., & Bekkevold, J. I. (Eds.). (2016). China in the era of Xi Jinping. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. [Chap. 4]
  • Saich, T. (2015). Governance and politics of China (4th ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. [Chap. 8]
  • So, A. Y., & Chu, Y. W. (2016). The global rise of China. Cambridge: Polity Press. [Chap. 6]
  • Whyte, M. K. (2012). China’s post-socialist inequality. Current History, 111(746), 229-234.
  • Yang, G. (2014). Internet activism and the party-state in China. Daedalus, 143(2), 110-142.
  • Zhao, S. (2010). The China model: Can it replace the Western model of modernization? Journal of Contemporary China, 19(65), 419-436.
  • Zhao, S. (2016). Whither the China model: Revisiting the debate. Journal of Contemporary China, 26(103), 1-17.
  • Zheng, Y. (2014). Contemporary China: A History since 1978. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. [Chaps. 4 & 9]

Recommended Reading

  • Cai, Y. (2010). Collective resistance in China: Why popular protests succeed or fail. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. [Chap. 2]
  • Leung, J. C. B., & Xu, Y. (2015). China’s social welfare. Cambridge: Polity Press. [Chaps. 3–5]
  • Naughton, B. (2007). The Chinese economy: Transitions and growth. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Chap. 9]
  • Shambaugh, D. (2016). China’s future. Cambridge: Polity Press. [Chaps. 1 & 4]
  • So, A. Y., & Chu, Y. W. (2016). The global rise of China. Cambridge: Polity Press. [Chap. 4]
  • Wedeman, A. (2012). Double paradox: Rapid growth and rising corruption in China. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. [Chap. 6]
  • Yuen, S. (2014). Disciplining the party: Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign and its limits. China Perspectives, 3(2014), 41-47.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr P.T.Y. Cheung
Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 8362
Email: tsyicheu@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr P.T.Y. Cheung
Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 8362
Email: tsyicheu@hku.hk