The Challenge of Change: Chinese Politics and Public Policy

  • Summer schools
  • Global Academic Engagement
  • Application code LPS-GV203
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Beijing

This course will explore the contemporary political system of China, with a special focus on its policy making process with an emphasis on China’s political structure and state and society relations. This course aims to provide students with a background on major political events in modern China, and then to investigate the current political issues in China today - environmental civil society activity, problems and benefits associated with continuing economic liberalization, and discourse from within the CCP on political reform.

Click here to see the full course outline

Programme details


Shaohua Lei 

Shaohua Lei received his doctorate in political science from the University of Utah in 2013. He is an assistant professor at the School of International Studies, Peking University, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Peking University. His research fields are Chinese Politics and Public Policy, Comparative Studies on Chinese and Foreign Political System, Sino-U.S. Relations. His main works include  “Social Protest in Contemporary China, 2003-2010: Transitional Pains and Regime Legitimacy” (London: Routledge, 2014, co-authored with Yanqi Tong), “The U.S. National Counterterrorism System: Its Evolution and Current Situation,” The Chinese Journal of American Studies, Jan 2015 and “Sublimating Contentious Chinese Politics into Local Public Administration,” Public Integrity Journal, Oct, 2017.

Student feedback

"The best part was the introduction to Chinese politics and of the discussions about and presentation of the cultural elements of China, including the professor's own experiences!" Evgeny Gurin, LSE, UK

Click here to read more of our alumni testimonials.


There are no prerequisites for this course.


Assessment will be based on a mid-term essay (worth 50% of the final mark) and a final exam (worth 50% of the final mark).

The format will be a 2-hour closed-book exam with essay style questions. Students will need to answer 3 of 5 questions. The exam will be based on materials included in the readings and lectures.

Preparatory reading list

 The list below provides an indication of some of the main recommended texts for the course, but a full reading list and electronic course pack will be provided to registered students approximately six weeks before the beginning of the programme.

  • Bernstein,Thomas and Lü Xiaobo. 2003. Taxation without representation in rural China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Brodsgaard, Erik and Zheng Yongnian, ed. 2004. Bringing the Party Back in: How China is Governed. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic Publisher. 
  • Cai, Yongshun. 2008. “Power Structure and Regime Resilience,” British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 34, pp. 411-432. 
  • Chang, Gordon. 2000. The Coming Collapse of China, NY: Random House. 
  • Sebastian Heilmann, and Elizabeth Perry, ed., Mao’s Invisible Hand: The Political Foundations of Adaptive Governance in China, Boston: Harvard University Press. 
  • Chung, Jae Ho, Hongyi Lai, and Ming Xia. 2006. “Mounting Challenges to Governance in China; Surveying Collective Protestors, Religious Sects and Criminal Organizations.” The China Journal, No. 56, pp. 1-32. 
  • Duara, Prasenjit. 1988. Culture, Power, and The State: Rural North China, 1900-1942. CA: Stanford University Press. 
  • Eisenstadt, S.N. 1963. The Political System of Empires. NY: the Free Press of Glencoe. 
  • Gabriella Montinola, QianYingyi, and Barry Weingast. 1996. “Federalism, Chinese Style: The Political Basis for Economic Success,” World Politics, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 50–81. 
  • Gallagher, Mary. 2004. “China: the Limits of Civil Society in a Late Leninist State,” in MuthiahAlagappa, eds., Civil Society and Political Change in Asia. CA: Stanford University Press. 
  • Goldman, Merle. 2007. Political Rights in Post-Mao China. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies. 
  • Hayes, Peter and Stanley Rosen. 2005. State and Society in 21st-Century China: Crisis, Contention, and Legitimation. London: Routledge. 
  • Lampton, David, ed. 1987. Policy Implementation in Post-Mao China. Berkeley: 
  • University of California Press 
  • Landry, Pierre 2008, Decentralized Authoritarianism in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Li, Lianjiang. 2004. “Political Trust in Rural China,” Modern China, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 228-258. 
  • Lieberthal, Kenneth &Oksenberg, Michel. 1988, Policy Making in China: Leaders, Structures, and Processes. N.J: Princeton University Press. 
  • Lu, Xiaobo. 2000. Cadres and Corruption, The Organizational Involution of the Chinese Communist Party. CA: Stanford University Press. 
  • Lu Xiaobo and Elizabeth Perry. 1997. Danwei: the Changing Chinese Workplace in Historical and Comparative Perspective. NY: M.E. Sharpe. 
  • O’Brien, Kevin, Li Lianjiang. 2006. Rightful Resistance in Rural China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 
  • Oi, Jean.1999. Rural China Takes Off, Institutional Foundations of Economic Reform, Berkeley: University of California Press. 
  • Perry, Elizabeth. 2001. Challenging the Mandate of Heaven: Social Protest and State Authority in China. Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe. 
  • Perry, Elizabeth. 2008. “Chinese Conceptions of ‘Rights’: From Mencius to Mao-and Now,” Perspective on Politics, Vol. 6, pp. 37-50. 
  • Perry, Elizabeth and Mark Selden. 2000. Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. London: Routledge Press. 
  • QianYingyi, and Barry Weingast. 1997. “Federalism as a Commitment to Preserving Market Incentives,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol.11, No. 4, 
  • QianYingyi and Xu Cheng-Gang. 1993. “The M-form Hierarchy and China’s Economic Reform.” European Economic Review. Vol. 37, pp. 541-548. 
  • Tony Saich. 2001. Governance and Politics of China. D.C:Palgrave MacMillan. 
  • Susan Shirk. 2007. China: Fragile Superpower. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • Shue, Vivienne. 1988. The Reach of the State: Sketches of the Chinese Body Politic. CA: Stanford University Press. 
  • Tong, James. 1991. Disorder Under Heaven: Collective Violence in the Ming Dynasty. CA: Stanford University Press. 
  • Tong, Yanqi and Shaohua Lei, 2014. Social Protests in Contemporary China: Transitional Pains and Legitimacy. London: Routledge. 
  • Tsai, Lily. 2008. Accountability without Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Zhao, Dingxin. 2001. The Power of Tiananmen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 
  • Zheng Yongnian. 2006. “Explaining the Sources of de facto Federalism in Reform China: Intergovernmental Decentralization, Globalization, and Central–Local Relations,” Japanese Journal of Political Science Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 101–126. 
  • Zheng Yongnian. 2010. The Chinese Communist Party as Organizational Emperor. London: Routledge Press.

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