Course Description

Course Name

China in Global Politics - Rising Power and Ancient Civilisation

Session: VPGS1324

Hours & Credits

6 ECTS Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


1. Course Description
China of the 21st century summons a mixed image - an indisputable rising world power, which lifted millions of people from poverty in the scope of 30 years but also a country facing issues with human rights; a fast transforming society embracing modern technologies and AI yet simultaneously the world’s oldest bureaucratic state. To understand the rising Asian hegemon, it is crucial to study it not only via the lens of its revolutionary Communist past, but in the context of a 4000 years lasting civilisation. Its long cultural, political and philosophical development was entirely independent from the
Western tradition and it forms China’s politics at home and abroad to this day. In this course we will study China’s determining features such as its population, geography and economy and how these have influenced its position in international relations. By delving into the Middle Kingdom’s long history, its patterns of philosophy, religion and society, we will get a better understanding of the culture of China today.

How uniform is this culture? What is the position of the minority ethnic groups in Tibet and Xinjiang? What about Taiwan? Alongside domestic policy, we will analyse China’s foreign policy and current issues, its unique approach to diplomacy, so different from the West and the ways in which these cultural differences cause major misunderstandings in international diplomacy. We will examine China’s relationships with other world powers and its rising economic and political presence in Africa and South America. To quote Napoleon: “China is the sleeping giant, let her sleep for when she wakes, she will shape the world”.

2. Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
● Analyse the current position of China in the world order, as a global power and a regional power in terms of its economic, political, military and cultural influence
● Describe the main historical events that shape China’s self-perception and influence its domestic and foreign policy today
● Analyse how China’s determining features such as its economy, population size, geography and culture impact its behaviour and policy formation
● Assess China’s main strengths and weaknesses as an actor of international relations as well as on the domestic front, identify the short-term and long-term threats
● Describe China’s foreign policy and its diplomatic relations with the global powers and with its neighbours
● Argue their opinion on China’s development in the future

3. Reading Material
Required Materials
● BRESLIN, S. China risen?: Studying Chinese global power. Policy Press. 2021
● GARLICK, J. Advantage China: agent of change in an era of global disruption. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2023.
● LIEBERTHAL Kenneth. Governing China: From Revolution Through Reform, 2nd Edition. W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2nd edition, December 2003
● William A. Joseph, editor. Politics in China: An Introduction, Second Edition. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2nd edition, April 2014.
● Yu Jie. From Deng to Xi: Economic Reform, The New Silk Road, and the Return of the Middle Kingdom. LSE Special Report. London, May 2017
● KISSINGER, Henry. On China. London: Allen Lane. 2011.
● CAI Peter, ”Understanding China’s Belt and Road Initiative”. Lowy Institute for International Policy, 2017
Recommended Materials
• BRAUTIGAM, D. The dragon's gift: the real story of China in Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009.
• CARDENAL, J.P. & ARAÚJO, H. China's silent army: the pioneers, traders, fixers and workers who are remaking the world in Beijing's image. London: Allen Lane. 2013.
• ELLIS, R.E. China in Latin America: The Whats and Wherefores. Boulder: Lynn Rienner. 2009.
• EMMOTT, B. Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India, and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade. Boston: Mariner Books. 2009.
• FANG, T. Chinese Business Negotiating Style. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 1999.
• FÜRST, R. -- TESAŘ, F. China's comeback in former Eastern Europe : no longer comrades, not yet strategic partners. Prague: Institute of International Relations. 2013.
• GUO, S. China’s ‘Peaceful Rise’ in the 21st Century: Domestic and International Conditions. Aldershot: Ashgate. 2006.
• JACQUES, M. When China rules the world: the end of the Western world and the birth of a new global order (2nd ed.). London: Penguin. 2012.
• MAGNUS, George. Red Flags: Why Xi's China Is in Jeopardy. Yale University Press, 2019.
• PAULSON, H.M. Dealing with China: an insider unmasks the new economic superpower. New York: Twelve. 2015.
• SHAMBAUGH, D. China goes global: the partial power. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013.
• SHAMBAUGH, D. China's future. Cambridge: Polity Press. 2016.
• SHIRK, S.L. China: fragile superpower. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2007.
• SUTTER, R. 2016. Chinese foreign relations: power and policy since the Cold War (4th ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. 2016.
• TAYLOR, I. China’s New Role in Africa. Boulder: Lynn Rienner. 2009.
• WASSERSTROM, J.N. China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York:
Oxford University Press. 2010.
• ZHU, Z. China’s New Diplomacy: Rationale, Strategies and Significance. Farnham:
Ashgate. 2010.

4. Teaching methodology
The course will be taught as a combination of lectures, presenting the main ideas and illustrating them with in-depth case-studies, and seminars. The seminar part of the lesson will feature either a class discussion, where students divided into four groups of 5-6 students debate a given topic and present their opinion, or a student presentation. Students will get a chance to choose a topic according to their area of interest at the beginning of the semester. Students that might be prevented from delivering their part of their presentation in person are expected to deliver the presentation live online (with a confirmation from the Dean of Students)

Students will be encouraged to interact and ask questions during both parts of the class and express their opinion in and out of discussions. The students' opinion formation and critical thinking are further encouraged through thoughts on the set reading/listening. For each reading, students will be expected to prepare a short response, which they will be ready to present upon asking. Each student will be asked to present their response to the reading at least once. On a larger scale, students will hone their analytical and research skills on a presentation on their chosen (pre agreed) topic. There will be a take-home final exam at the end of the semester to be completed within 48 hours.

*Course content subject to change