CCCH9042 China: Culture, State and Society
Corruption and Anticorruption in China

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

One of the enduring problems harassing Chinese regimes since imperial times has been corruption, which seems to be deeply embedded in the Chinese culture. Corruption has grown particularly fast since the marketization reform in 1978. Given its wide impact on economic growth, social stability and welfare, corruption is arguably the topmost challenge to contemporary Chinese government in the 21st Century. Therefore, studying corruption and anticorruption in China enriches our understanding of the nature of Chinese culture, politics, and economy, and helps us foresee the prospects of China in the new millennium. In this course, through exploring major forms of corruption, the causes of corruption and the effectiveness of anticorruption measures in controlling corruption, students will get a glimpse of various perspectives on understanding contemporary China, such as the hidden rules of the Chinese state, the informal institutions of government, the formation of social network, elite politics, the legal system, and the media-government relationship.

[A compulsory field visit may be scheduled during Reading Week.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain corruption, a major challenge to contemporary China and an enduring problem in Chinese history, from social science theories across disciplines, and eventually form a deeper understanding of China.
  2. Critically examine the limitations of different theories on corruption’s causes, socio-economic impacts, and its solutions.
  3. Apply theories and class knowledge into real world corruption cases and propose analyses and solutions.
  4. Critically reflect their own values and behaviors in influencing social integrity and the building of a responsible society.
  5. Better understand corruption in other countries and bridge experiences of different communities and cultures together to better understand the universal problem of corruption and its impact.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second Semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 26
Tutorials 10
Reading / Self-study 55
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 20
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 4
Assessment: Group project 40
Total: 155

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Lecture participation 15
Tutorial participation 20
Tutorial presentation 15
Response essays 15
Group research project 35

Required Reading

  • Ambrasseys, N., & Bilham, R. (2011, January 13). Corruption kill. Nature, 153-155.
  • Ang, Y. Y. (2014). Authoritarian restraints on online activism revisited: Why ‘I-paid-a-bribe’ worked in India but failed in China. Comparative politics47(1).
  • Edes, Bartlet. (2017). Regional cooperation to curb corruption in Asia. In T. Gong & I. Scott (Eds.), Routledge handbook on corruption in Asia (Chap. 4.6).
  • Gong, T. (1997). Forms and characteristics of China’s corruption in the 1990s: Change with continuity. Communist and post-communist studies30, 277-288.
  • Guo, X. (2014). Controlling corruption in the party: China’s central discipline inspection commission. The China quarterly, 219, 597-624.
  • Guo, Y. (2008). Corruption in transitional China: An empirical analysis. The China quarterly194, 349-364.
  • Hao, Y., & Johnston, M. (2002). Corruption and the future of economic reform in China. In A. J. Heidenheimer & M. Johnston (Eds), Political corruption: Concepts & contexts (pp. 583-604). New Bruswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers).
  • Ko, K. & Weng, C. (2011). Critical review of conceptual definitions of Chinese corruption: a formal-legal perspective. Journal of contemporary China20, 359-378.
  • Manion, M. (2004). Corruption by design: Building clean government in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. [Chaps. 2, 3]
  • Rose-Ackerman, S. (1999). Corruption and governance: Causes, consequences and reform. Cambridge University Press. [Pages to be assigned]
  • Treisman, D. (2007). What have we learned about the causes of corruption from ten years of cross-national empirical research? Annual review of political science10.
  • Wedeman, A. H. (2012). Double paradox: Rapid growth and rising corruption in China. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. [Pages to be assigned]
  • Zhu, J. (2017). Corruption networks in China: An institutional analysis. In T. Gong and I. Scott (Eds.), Handbook on corruption in Asia (Chapter 1.2). Routledge. [Pages to be assigned]
  • Zhu, J., Lu, J., & Shi, T. (2013). When grapevine news meets mass media: Different information sources and perceptions of government corruption in Mainland China. Comparative Political Studies46(8), 920-946.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J. Zhu
Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 2278
Email: zhujn@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J. Zhu
Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 2278
Email: zhujn@hku.hk
Dr J.L.E. Hun
Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 4981
Email: jhun11@hku.hk