• Class Number 7213
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Graeme Smith
    • Dr Graeme Smith
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
    • Glynnis-Anne Buckley
SELT Survey Results

Who rules China, and how? This course examines the politics of contemporary China. It traces the cultural and historical legacies affecting political life and the political processes through which nation-state, citizen-subjects and the organizations and institutions of governance are constructed and interact; examines the major political challenges confronting China today; and explores debates over the concepts used to explain Chinese politics, both in China and in the field of comparative politics.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Students will acquire from experts in the field an  up to date knowledge of the organizations and institutions involved in contemporary Chinese politics; draw on key concepts in comparative politics to evaluate debates about the major political issues facing China; develop their research and analytical skills, by participating in tutorial discussions, preparing and writing a research essay, and preparing for an examination.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. understand the key concepts used in studying Chinese politics;
  2. demonstrate familiarity with some of the major theories seeking to explain Chinese politics;
  3. produce persuasive, well-researched written arguments about the politics of China;
  4. produce persuasive verbal accounts of the politics of China.

Research-Led Teaching

This course introduces a number of innovations involving guest speakers and the use of the course convenor's podcast. One of the assessments involves students learning the basics of writing a script for a podcast interview, learning to ask questions that develop their research skills. During class, following a traditional one-hour lecture, the second hour will be dedicated to a short presentation by a guest speaker followed by Q&A and a wide ranging discussion. The speaker will join either in person or via Zoom and they will be either a relevant guest on the Little Red Podcast (a different episode will be assigned for each week) and/or the author of one of the readings. Students will be encouraged to directly interrogate the author of work they have been assigned for that week. Much of course material draws upon the field experience of the course convenor and tutor in rural and urban China, as well as further afield in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Required Resources

The textbook Politics in China (OUP, 2019) by William Joseph is used in this course. Copies can be ordered through Harry Hartog. Two hard copies and an e-book are available through the ANU Library. 

Other textbooks

Tony Saich (2011) Governance and Politics of China (Palgrave Macmillan). 2 copies on reserve in the library.

For those who have never studied China before, a succinct guide is Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham (2018) China in the 21st century: What everyone needs to know. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Just published (6 July 2021), Tony Saich's From Rebel to Ruler: 100 Years of the Chinese Communist Party. Cambridge, Ma.: The Belknap Press of Harvard.

Christian Sorace, Ivan Franceschini and Nicholas Loubere (eds.) (2019) Afterlives of Chinese Communism. Canberra: ANU Press.

Kenneth Lieberthal, Cheng Li and Yu Keping (eds.) (2014) China’s Political Development: Chinese and American Perspectives. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institute. 

Vivienne Shue and Patricia Thornton (eds.) (2017) To Govern China: Evolving Practices of Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Beyond the scope of the course, but these classics have stood the test of time and are recommended for future reading:

Franz Schurmann (1968) Ideology and Organization in Communist China. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

A. Doak Barnett (1967) Cadres, Bureaucracy, and Political Power in Communist China. New York: Columbia University Press. 

Journals, newspapers and online resources

You are advised to read widely and to keep up with the current literature in key journals. The following journals are particularly important:

The China Quarterly, The China Journal, Journal of Contemporary China, Modern China

Students are encouraged to read 1-2 articles about Chinese politics each week. Online news resources include:


            Christian Science Monitor www.csmonitor.com/   

            Far Eastern Economic Review http://www.feer.com             

            Financial Times http://www.ft.com/rss/world/asiapacific  

            Global Times  https://www.globaltimes.cn/

            The Guardian www.guardian.co.uk  

            The Diplomat https://thediplomat.com          

            New York Times www.nytimes.com  

            Nikkei Asian Review http://asia.nikkei.com    

            People’s Daily http://english.people.com.cn/

            South China Morning Post http://www.scmp.com/news/china

            Xinhua http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/index.htm

Other online resources

 http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/whitepaper/home.html (White papers of the Chinese government)

 http://www.chinatoday.com/law/a.htm (Chinese laws)

 http://www.brookings.edu/cnaps.aspx (Brookings Institute on China)

 http://www.chinafile.com/ (PRC focused journalism)

 http://chinadigitaltimes.net/ (Hong Kong based, internet and media issues)

 http://www.chinaleadershipmonitor.org/ (Elite PRC politics)

https://duihua.org/wp/ (Duihua Foundation, legal issues and human rights)

 https://nuvoices.com/ (Gender)

 https://qz.com/ (Technology)

 https://sinocism.com/ (Daily newsletter on China related matters)

If you find that these links do not work, please inform Graeme so that he can update the list.


Often interesting accounts include:

Bill Bishop @niubi (edits Sinocism newsletter)

Louisa Lim @limlouisa (co-host of Little Red Podcast, former BBC and NPR China correspondent)

China Law Translate @ChinaLawTransl8 (translation project run by Yale’s Jeremy Daum)

Chris Buckley @ChuBailiang (New York Times reporter)

Joseph Torigian @JosephTorigian (Washington-based archivist of PRC and Russia)

Josh Chin @joshchin (WSJ reporter)

Official China @ChinaRegulation (insightful and the odd translation)

The Relevant Organs @relevantorgans (the most reliably amusing PRC-focused account)

Bad China Takes @badchinatake and @wokeglobaltimes (DC-based account, pillories China watchers on all sides)

Graeme Smith @GraemeKSmith 

Other than Graeme and Louisa’s Little Red Podcast (https://omny.fm/shows/the-little-red-podcast), others worth your time include:

China Power https://chinapower.csis.org/podcasts/ Hosted by Bonnie Glaser of CSIS

China Talk https://chinatalkshow.libsyn.com Hosted by Jordan Schneider

TechBuzz China https://www.techbuzzchina.com Hosted by Rui Ma and Ying Lu

Harvard-Fairbank Centre https://player.fm/series/harvard-fairbank-center-for-chinese-studies

Sinica https://supchina.com/series/sinica/ Hosted by Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Chinese spelling and pronunciation

When you read books on China, you will notice that there are two main systems for romanizing (writing in the English alphabet) Chinese names. The older system is known as Wade-Giles, while the modern one used within the PRC is pinyin. Most books published in the PRC use pinyin for all except a few names. The exceptions are names of people who were well known in the West and whose names were commonly spelt in a particular way before pinyin was introduced; they are usually kept the same so as not to confuse the reader. But generally, almost everybody these days uses pinyin, and it is a better system in many respects, so you should aim to keep to this system as far as possible in your ownwriting.

Pronunciation: pinyin is mostly pronounced as it is written - a "ch" sound is the same as in English, for example - but there are a few cases where it won’t be obvious to you how to pronounce these names. Below are a few guidelines on pronunciation.

(as in Deng Xiaoping) is pronounced as something between an and a sh sound

(as in Jiang Qing) is the same as ch zh is like an initial j

is a sort of tss sound

(as in Mao Zedong) is a softer version of c, something like dz

Note on Chinese names: The family name precedes the given name, so that Mao Zedong if you wish to shorten it becomes Mao, Jiang Zemin becomes Jiang, etc. The use of the given name on its own (such as Jinping for Xi Jinping) is usually either familiar or derogatory, neither of which is appropriate in academic writing.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction Enrol online in tutorials
2 How Leninist states rule
3 The Party
4 Political change from Deng to Xi
5 Xi Jinping and Nationalism Podcast episode script (20%) due 23 August
6 Central-local relations
7 Grassroots politics
8 Corruption and regime legitimacy
9 Minorities policy
10 The internet and stability maintenance
11 Global China on the Belt and Road Research essay (60%) due 22 October
12 Authoritarian resilience

Tutorial Registration

Students should enrol in tutorials on Wattle. Your tutor will keep a record of your attendance, so if you must miss a tutorial, email and explain the problem to Anna.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Tutorial participation 10 % * 29/10/2021 1
Tutorial presentation 10 % * 29/10/2021 2,4
Podcast episode script 20 % 23/08/2021 13/09/2021 1
Research essay 60 % 22/10/2020 19/11/2020 2,3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Return of Assessment: 29/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1

Tutorial participation

Students should enrol in tutorials on Wattle. Your tutor will keep a record of your attendance, so if you must miss a tutorial, email and explain the problem to Graeme or Anna.

By enrolling in this course you indicate that you are willing to attend lectures and tutorials, do the required readings and participate in class discussion. All students are encouraged to participate actively in class and in online discussions.

Students are expected to come to class having completed the assigned material and with notes prepared to inform the discussion. Students will be graded on the quality of their active participation. Marks are not given for simply attending.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Return of Assessment: 29/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 2,4

Tutorial presentation

Every member of each tutorial group must select a topic and present between Weeks 3 and 11. First in, first served!

To ensure a fair coverage of topics and for the convenience of other students, please email Anna or Graeme immediately if you wish to change your tutorial group or your presentation topic.

Presentations will be given by two participants. You MUST work together to ensure there is no repetition or overlap.

Presenters must have read all the recommended readings, and preferably some of the additional readings. Masters students are encouraged to go well beyond the suggested readings.

Presentations will last a maximum of 15 minutes and will be followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. 

The aim of the presentation (and the criteria according to which your presentation is assessed) is to elucidate, and critically assess the analytical usefulness of the concepts used in the required readings, identify and critique key arguments in academic debates on the topic and, through raising insightful questions, stimulate discussion among other members of the group. Do not simply summarise the readings, and do not answer the questions listed for tutorial discussion.

To get the most out of the course, students should do their tutorial presentation on a different subject to their essay and podcast script.

If, because of an emergency, you cannot attend the tutorial at which you are scheduled to make a presentation, you must contact the course convenor and tutor immediately, and present a certificate confirming the reason for your inability to attend.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 23/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 13/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1

Podcast episode script

Word length: 1000 words                

Submission time & date: 23:50 23 August 2021

The script will be formulated based on a podcast interview with one or two authors who contribute to the readings in a week of your choosing. The author can be chosen from the recommended or additional readings. A reference list must be included at the end of the script. 

The purpose of this exercise is to encourage you to think critically and develop a narrative to interrogate the writers’ work. While your focus is on the authors’ work, you should also demonstrate a broader understanding of the topic by drawing on other literature. Model scripts will be provided but are only a guide—you should develop your own style of questioning and even your own genre of podcast to suit the topic. Please note you are not required to provide answers to your questions--by asking the right questions, you demonstrate you have mastered the topic.

The word limit is tight, so in order to be brief and demonstrate that you have understood the readings, read more widely on the subject and form an original view, do not paraphrase or use lengthy quotes in your questions. Marks will be deducted for exceeding the word count. The class will vote on the best podcast episode title. Last year's winner was 'Party Likes It's 1949.' The winner will receive a Little Red Podcast mug, as will the author of the best script (as decided by Graeme and Anna, no democracy for this contest).

It is your responsibility to retain a copy of your script and a confirmation of the date on which it was submitted until such time as results from the course have been released.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 22/10/2020
Return of Assessment: 19/11/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

Research essay

Word length: 4000 words

Submission time & date: 23:50 22 October 2021

Extensions to the submission date may be given ONLY by the course convenor. Except in the case of medical problems (which must be attested by a medical certificate) or in similar exceptional circumstances, extensions will not be granted. Contact Graeme if an extension is necessary. Written confirmation will be given if an extension is granted. Note: no late assignments will be accepted after other students' work has been marked and returned.

Research: The reading lists provided under each lecture topic are intended to serve only as a starting point. It is particularly important to identify, and engage critically, with appropriate source materials. Do NOT accept without question the views and interpretations expressed in the readings. Use them as a means of developing your own understanding of the problem.

Presentation: Each essay must include an essay question number and title. Pages should be numbered. The text must be in 12-point font, and lines must be 1.5 spaced.

The essay must be fully referenced and include a bibliography. Students should proof-read their essays carefully before submission as poor structuring, and minor and/or typographical errors distract readers from the substance of the argument.

Save in Microsoft Word or PDF and submit on Turnitin.

Essay topics:

ASIA6026 students MUST create their own essay question.

The course Wattle site has advice on how to design a research question. Try to develop a question that will not invite an answer that is a simple chronological narrative or description. Usually, “Why” questions lead to more thoughtful and convincing analyses than “What” questions. Make sure it’s a succinct question that can be answered in 4000 words, rather than requiring a PhD dissertation-length response. You must also consider whether there is sufficient scholarly material available to allow you to answer the question. When designing your essay question, bear in mind that your essay must NOT be on the same topic as your readings paper.

The question must be emailed to the course convenor, and approved in writing by 27 September. Ideally you will have discussed draft versions of the question well before this date. You will receive emailed suggestions on how to improve (or address) the research question.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Graeme Smith
6125 6575

Research Interests

Dr Graeme Smith

Friday 10:00 11:00
Friday 10:00 11:00
Dr Graeme Smith

Research Interests

Dr Graeme Smith

Friday 10:00 11:00
Friday 10:00 11:00
Glynnis-Anne Buckley

Research Interests

Glynnis-Anne Buckley

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions