Course Code


Course Name

China’s Regions and their Global Interactions


Wednesday 10.30 am -13.15 pm


YIA 403



Teaching Assistant

Huang Xiaotong

Course Description

This course examines regional political economy in contemporary China in global context. It looks in particular at the evolution of regional policy in China since 1949 and its implications, at issues relating to ethnic minorities and western China, at Hong Kong in the Greater Bay Area, and the Belt and Road Initiative from a sub-national perspective in China.

Learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students are expected:

● to be able to discuss contemporary regional political economy in the PRC, with reference to
particular cases;
● to understand the relevance of this regional approach to analysing the main trends in China’s
contemporary global interactions;
● to demonstrate an improved ability to present clear oral and written analysis.

Course Outline

Part I
1. Introduction: Thinking about China’s regions

Explains course requirements and sets out the scope of the course, the themes to be covered and the approach. Introduces some ways of thinking about China’s regions.

2. Conceptual framework: Regional agency in global context
Looks further at the context for examining China’s regions and their global interactions by assessing some of the explanations for the dramatic social and economic transformations in China over recent decades and thinking about the regional factors in China’s rise.

– Tim Summers (2018). Globalization and China. Chapter 1 of China’s Regions in an Era of Globalization, Routledge.
– Weidong Liu, Michael Dunford, Zhigao Liu, Zhenshan Yang (2022). Regional development in China. Chapter 5 of Exploring the Chinese Social Model: Beyond Market and State, Agenda Publishing.

Part II
3. Regional policy and policy making in China
Historical overview of regional policy from 1949; discussion of policy making processes (followed by examination of cases in subsequent weeks).

– Tim Summers (2018). Regional policy in contemporary China: a historical overview. Chapter 2 of China’s Regions in an Era of Globalization, Routledge.
– Wang Shaoguang (2008). Changing Models of China’s Policy Agenda Setting. Modern China 34(1), 56-87.

4. The Third Front (1960s)
Focuses on the Third Front (1964-1971).

– Covell Meyskens (2020). Introduction. Mao’s Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China. Cambridge University Press.
– Barry Naughton (1988). The Third Front: Defence Industrialization in the Chinese Interior. The China Quarterly 115, 351-386.

5. Coastal development strategy (1980s)
Looks at “reform and opening up” and the coastal development strategy of the 1980s.

– Dali L. Yang (1991). China Adjusts to the World Economy: The Political Economy of China’s Coastal Development Strategy. Pacific Affairs 64(1), 42-64
– Kirsten Lundberg (2019). By Accident or Design? Shenzhen as a Global Hub for Digital Entrepreneurs. SIPA Entrepreneurship & Policy Initiative Working Paper, available at

6. Develop the West (2000s)
Examines the reasons for and implications of “Develop the West”, the first of a series of policy programmes designed to address regional imbalances within the PRC.

– David Goodman (2004). The Campaign to ‘Open up the West’: National, Provincial-level and Local Perspectives. China Quarterly 178, 317-334.

7. Regional policy since 2012
Looks at the most recent iterations of regional policy in China, and their implications for understanding China’s regions in global context.

– Long Yang (2017). China’s regional development policy. Chapter 4 of John Donaldson, ed, Assessing the Balance of Power in Central-Local Relations in China, Routledge.
– Yuen Yuen Ang (2018). Domestic Flying Geese: Industrial Transfer and Delayed Policy Diffusion in China. The China Quarterly 234, 420-443.
– Anthony G.O. Yeh, George C.S. Ling and Fiona F. Yang (2021), Introduction and overview: Emerging mega-city regions in China. In Yeh, Ling & Yang (eds), Mega-City Region Development in China.

8. Making regional policy in the PRC
In-class assessment on what regional policy tells us about policy making in contemporary China.

Part III
9. Regional cuisine in China
Explores China’s regional cuisines.

– Readings and other preparatory materials will be added to Blackboard.

10. Ethnic minority regions in China
Examines ethnic minority regions and ethnic minorities policy, with a global perspective.

– Sun Yan (2019). Debating Ethnic Governance in China. Journal of Contemporary China 28(115), 118-132.

11. The Belt and Road Initiative and China’s regions
Examines the Belt and Road initiative and its implications for China’s regions.

– Tim Summers (2018). The belt and road initiative and China’s regions. Chapter 5 of China’s Regions in an Era of Globalization, Routledge.
– Lee Jones and Jinghan Zeng (2019). Understanding China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’: beyond ‘grand strategy’ to a state transformation analysis. Third World Quarterly 40(8), 1415-1439.

12. The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area
Discusses the Greater Bay Area as a global region of China [lecture held jointly with CHES5001B at 10.30 on Friday 24 November]

– Tim Summers (forthcoming). Imagining Global China: The Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road [available on Blackboard].

13. Final project presentations
Several sessions for presentations will be arranged during the last two weeks of term. Each pair of students will present and participate in one of these sessions.

Assessment & Assignments

1. 30%: Review essay of minimum 2,000 words on at least five academic articles drawn from the course outline (available on Blackboard). To be submitted by 6pm on Friday 20 October (late submission will be penalized). Guidance on writing a review essay will be given in class.

2. 20%: Analysis of regional policy and policy making processes as in-class assessment in Week 8.

3. 40%: Oral and written presentation in pairs of research on a question relating to China’s regions and agreed with the lecturer; submission of written material and presentations to class will take place in the last two weeks of term.

4. 10%: Class participation and attendance.

Full details of these assignments will be posted on the Blackboard e-learning system at the start of term. Students may refer to the grade descriptors for MA in Chinese Studies for further indications of grading criteria (available on Blackboard or from the TA).

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.