Course Code


Course Name

Comparative Politics and China


Wednesdays 18:30-21:15


YIA 502


Prof. Jean-Pierre Cabestan

Teaching Assistant

Xiaotong Huang

Course Description

This course will introduce fundamental issues and approaches in comparative politics and
systematically map out the political system of China in these perspectives. Specifically, we will
discuss the characteristics of different political systems in the world, investigate the key elements
in governance, examine various political and policy processes, and explore the role of societal
actors in different political systems. In each section, we will understand China by comparing it
with other systems in the world. Students will be asked to reflect on the status of Chinese political
system in the world from each of these particular perspectives.

Course Outline

Class 1: Politics, Comparative Politics, and China: What is the comparative
politics study? How to approach China in a comparative framework?
Is China comparable to other countries or is China an outlier?

Class 2: Main themes and methodologies in comparative politics will be
introduced and discussed. 

Class 3: Political System/Regimes: How to define political system/regimes in
the world? How to find China along the autocracy-democracy,
authoritarian- hybrid-democratic regimes lines, etc.? 

Class 4: Party system: What is a political party? Why political parties? How
to describe a political system using the party system? How about

Class 5: Legislature: What is a legislature? How to understand the
relationship between the Chief Executive and the Parliament? What
are the functions of the National People’s Congress of China? How
different the NPC is from other legislative branches in the world?

Class 6: Executive/administrators: What are the responsibilities of the
executive branch? How to understand leadership? The relationship
between the central and local in different systems? And in China?
Technocrats? Bureaucrats? 

Class 7: Judicial/legal system: How important is the independence of judicial
branch and check and balance? How to understand the Chinese legal
system and its anticorruption campaigns?

Class 8: Development and Democracy: What is the relationship between
economic development and political transition? What is
democratization? How to understand and evaluate the economic and
social development, and political situations in China? 

Class 9: Policy Making Process: How are public policies made? Who are
players in the policy process? How to understand some key social
and economic policies in China? 

Class 10: Globalization and International Relations: How to understand the
international world, the role of international organizations? How has
globalization shaped domestic politics? What is the Belt and Road
Initiative in China and what to expect in the future?

Class 11: Civil Society: What is the civil society and pressure groups? What can the
civil society do? What is the relationship between the state and society in
different regime types? And in China?

Class 12: Individuals & Political culture: What is political culture? What is citizenship?
How can individuals do to affect the political process?

Assessment & Assignments

Attendance 5%
Participation 15%
Term Paper 40%
Oral Presentation 40%

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the
disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations.
Details may be found at With each
assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of the
policies, regulations and procedures.