Course Code


Course Name

Selected Themes on Chinese Politics


Tuesday 11:30am-2:15pm


ELB 401



Teaching Assistant

WEN Mingrui

Course Description

This course focuses on the theorization of the Chinese policy process with a focus on policy implementation in the local state. It traces the evolution of Western and Chinese social science research on China over the last 30 years. Besides the discussion of theoretical concepts such as fragmented authoritarianism, fiscal federalism, policy entrepreneurship, experimentation under hierarchy and effective policy implementation, the focus is put on the changes of the policy process in the Xi Jinping era which is characterized by ‘top-level design’, i.e. centralization and steering. The course will also address the ongoing debate of the development of Chinese political science among Western and Chinese scholars in order to highlight their differences in theorizing on policy-making in China.

Course Outline

Detailed Course Outline is available on Blackboard.

Week 1: Course organization and introduction to the topic

Week 2: Understanding the local state in contemporary China

Week 3: Fragmented Authoritarianism

Week 4: Fiscal Federalism

Week 5: Selective – Uneven – Effective Policy Implementation

Week 6: Experimentation under Hierarchy

Week 7: Policy Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Week 8: Bureaucratic Collusion and Muddling Through

Week 9: Discussion of Term Paper Topics

Week 10: Strategic Group Analysis

Week 11: Theorising the Policy Process under ‘Top-Level Design’: Political Steering

Week 12: China’s Rise and Political Science – Western and Chinese Perspectives

Week 13: Wrapping up and concluding discussion

Assessment & Assignments

Term paper (40%)

Oral and written presentation (40%)

Course attendance and active participation (20%)

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 these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.