Course Code


Course Name

Comparative Politics and China


Tuesday 10:30AM - 01:15PM




Prof. Jean Pierre Aurelien CABESTAN

Teaching Assistant

Huang Xiaotong

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 Introduction
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 Themes and Methodologies in Comparative Politics
Main themes and methodologies in comparative politics will be introduced and discussed.

Class 3 Political System
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 Political Structure I
Party system: What is a political party? Why political parties? How to describe a political system using the party system? How about China?

Class 5 Political Structure II
Legislature: What is a legislature? How to understand the relationship between the Executive Branch 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 Political Structure III
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 Political Structure IV
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 Political Process I
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 Political Process II
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 Political Process III
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 Political Actors I
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 Political Actors II
Individuals & Political culture: What is political culture? What is citizenship? How can individuals do to affect the political process?

Class13 TBC

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 VeriGuide declaration that they are aware of the policies, regulations and procedures.