Political Economy of China

Political Economy of China

Fall 2013

Instructor       Prof. L. ZHANG, Room 1117, Wenke Building

Tel: 021-5566-5575, Email: lizhangfudan@fudan.edu.cn

Course TA   Miss Zhang Caiyi, Email: 11210730006@fudan.edu.cn

Instruction Language      English

Course Credit          2.0

Office Hours           14:00 – 16:30, Mondays or by appointment




(1) Course description

This course provides a political economy perspective on the rapidly changing economy and society in contemporary China. The course will focus on the discussion how political, economic and social forces shape “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Students who elect this course are assumed to have basic knowledge of China and Chinese.


(2) Objectives

The ultimate objectives of this course are: 

l   to enhance students’ intellectual knowledge about China from a political economy perspective; 

l   to improve students’ ability to think about China’s complex development more comprehensively and critically; and

l   to enable students to integrate what they have learned from this course into other Chinarelated courses in their own discipline of study.


(3) Learning outcomes

After completing the course, students should

l   be able to explore controversial concepts and issues that are important for understanding socialism with Chinese characteristics;

l   be knowledgeable about the relationships between various development patterns and systemic features in both pre-reform and reform periods; and

l   be able to understand China’s development beyond what is presented in the mass media.


(4) Main text

l Victoria Mantzopoulos and Raphael Shen (2011). The political economy of China’s systemic transformation: 1979 to the present. Palgrave Macmillan.


(5) Background readings

l Janos Kornai (1992). The socialist system: the political economy of communism.










Princeton University Press, chapter 15 (pp.360-379) and chapter 24 (pp.565-580).

l Terry Cannon and Alan Jenkins (eds.) (1990). The geography of contemporary China:










the impact of Deng Xiaoping’s decade. Routledge, chapters 3-4 (pp.61-101). 

l Barry Naughton (1996). Growing out of the plan: Chinese economic reform 1978-1993. Cambridge University Press, introduction and chapter 1 (pp.26-55).
l John R. Logan (ed.) (2002). The new Chinese city: globalization and market reform.

Blackwell Publisher, pp.3-21.


(6) Schedules, topics and suggested readings


Week 1

Course introduction 课程简介 

An overview of the course, including contents, requirements and assessments


Week 2 

The lexicon of China’s political economy 中国政治经济学特殊词汇

(Note: This week’s class time may subject to change because the University may reschedule the class arrangement for mid-autumn festival)

Selected Readings

l  “Understanding China in geography” http://chinadatacenter.org/chinageography/, authored by China Data Center, University of Michigan.

l  许涤新主编(1983),简明政治经济学辞典。人民出版社。

l  沈孟璎编著(2009),《新中国 60 年新词新语词典》。四川辞书出版社。


Week 3 

2013 Population and China’s power 人口问题与中国国力  

Selected Readings  

l Angus Maddison (2001), The world economy: a millennial perspective. Paris: OECD. 
l Evaluation Office, United Nations Development Program (2005), Country evaluation:










assessment of development results, China. New York: UNDP. 

l Global Insight (2007), China set to take the lead in global manufacturing. Global Insight Perspective Article. 
l Xizhe Peng (2011),  China’s demographic history and future challenges. Science vol. 333, pp.581-587, 29 July 2011. 
l Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason (2006), What is the demographic dividend? Finance and Development, vol.43, no.3, pp.16-17. 
l 连玉明、武建忠主编(历年),中国国力报告。中国时代经济出版社。 


Week 4 

National Day holiday, no class meeting 


Week 5 

Territorial dimensions of authority and power in China’s political economy 行政区经济  

Selected Readings

l Carolyn Cartier (2013), “What’s territorial about China?” Eurasian Geography and Economics, vol.54, no.1, pp.57-77.
l Kai-yuen Tsui (2007), “Forces shaping China’s interprovincial inequality,” Review of Income and Wealth, vol.53, no.1, pp.60-92. 
l Laurence J. C. Ma (2005), “Urban administrative restructuring, changing scale relations and local economic development in China,” Political Geography, vol.24, no.4, pp.477497.
l Ravi Kanbur and Xiaobo Zhang (2005), “Fifty years of regional inequality in China: a journey through central planning, reform, and openness,” Review of Development Economics, vol.9, no.1, pp.87-106.
l Susan H. Whiting (2007), Central-local fiscal relations in China. China Policy Series,

no.22, National Committee on United States – China Relations and Renmin University of China.

l Sylvie Démurger, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Wing Thye Woo, Shuming Bao, Gene Chang, and Andrew Mellinger (2002), Geography, economic policy, and regional development in China. Asian Economic Papers, vol.1, no.1, pp.146-197.
l Le-Yin Zhang (1999), “Chinese central-provincial fiscal relationships, budgetary decline

and the impact of the 1994 fiscal reform: an evaluation,” China Quarterly, no.157, pp.115-141.


Week 6

Transformation of economic development models 经济发展模式转变

Selected Readings

l Barry Naughton (2007), The Chinese economy: transitions and growth. MIT Press.
l Justine Yifu Lin, Fang Cai and Zhou Li (2003), The China miracle. The Chinese University Press.
l Xiangming Chen (2007), “A tale of two regions in China: rapid economic development and slow industrial upgrading in the Pearl River and the Yangtze River Deltas,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology, vol.48, nos.2/3, pp.167-201.
l Andong Zhu and David M. Kotz (2011), “The dependence of China’s economic growth

on exports and investment,” Review of Radical Political Economics, vol.43, no.1, pp.9-32.


Week 7

Mobility system and citizenship 人口迁移制度和公民权利

Selected Readings

l “Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on residence registration,” Chinese Law and Government, vol.34, no.3, 2001, pp.52-57.
l “The residence registration system,” Chinese Law and Government, vol.34, no.3, 2001, pp.9-51.
l Kam Wing Chan and Li Zhang (1999), “The hukou system and rural-urban migration in China: processes and changes,” The China Quarterly, no.160, pp.818-855.
l Tiejun Cheng and Mark Selden (1994), “The origins and social consequences of China’s

hukou system,” The China Quarterly, no.139, pp.644-668.


Week 8 

Political economy concerns of urbanization 城市化的政治经济因素  

Selected Readings  

l E.J. Heikkila (2007), “Three questions regarding urbanization in China,” Journal of Planning Education and Research, vol.27, pp.65-81. 
l Hairong Yan (2008), New masters, new servants: migration, development and women workers in China. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 
l Kam Wing Chan (1994), Cities with invisible walls: reinterpreting urbanization in post1949 China. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press. 
l Li Zhang (2008), “Conceptualizing China’s urbanization under reform,” Habitat International, vol.32, pp.452-470. 
l McKinsey Global Institute (2009), Preparing for China’s urban billion
l Ngai Pun and Huilin Lu (2010), “Unfinished proletarianization: self, anger, and class action among the second generation of peasant-workers in present-day China,” Modern China, vol.36, no.5, pp.493-519. 
l Richard J.R. Kirkby (1985), Urbanization in China: town and country in a developing

economy 1949-2000 AD. London: Croom Helm. 


Week 9 

Government finance: the case of infrastructure financing 基础设施融资  

Selected Readings

l Asian Development Bank, Ministry of Finance of China (2000) Managing urban change:










strategic options for municipal governance and finance in China. Report of Technical Assistance, TA PRC 2924 – A study of municipal public finance.

l Carsten Herrmann-Pillath and Feng Xingyuan (2004), “Competitive governments, fiscal arrangements, and the provision of local public infrastructure in China: a theory-driven study of Gujiao Municipality,” China Information, vol.18, no.3, pp.373-428.
l George C.S. Lin and Samuel P.S. Ho (2005), “The state, land system, and land development processes in contemporary China,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol.95, no.2, pp.411-436.
l Li Tian (2008), “The chengzhongcun land market in China: boon or bane? A perspective on poverty rights,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol.32, no.2, pp.282-304.
l Richard M. Bird (2005), “Getting it right: financing urban development in China,” AsiaPacific Tax Bulletin, March/April, pp.107-117.
l Sarah Y. Tong and Gang Chen (2008), China’s land policy reform: an update. EAI

Background Brief No.419, The East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore. 


Week 10 

Inequality under welfare regime transformation 福利体系转型中的不平等  

Selected Readings  

l Dorothy J. Solinger (2002), “Labor market reform and the plight of laid-off proletariat,” The China Quarterly, no.170, pp.304-326. 
l Fulong Wu (2004), “Urban poverty and marginalization under market transition: the case of Chinese cities,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research vol.28, pp.401423. 
l Xiaogang Wu (2009), “Income inequality and distributive justice: a comparative analysis of mainland China and Hong Kong,” China Quarterly, December, pp.1033-1052. 
l Xinping Guan (2000), “China’s social policy: reform and development in the context of

marketization and globalization,” Social Policy & Administration, vol.34, no.1, pp.115130. 


Week 11 

Student Forum (1) 学生论坛  


Week 12 

Student Forum (2) 学生论坛  


Week 13 

How can we understand the real China 如何读懂中国  

Selected Readings

l Gordon Redding and Michael A. Witt (2007), The future of Chinese capitalism. New York: Oxford University Press.
l Janos Kornai (2000), “What the change of system from socialism to capitalism does and does not mean,” Journal of Economic Perspective, vol.14, no.1, pp.27-42.
l Richard Walker and Daniel Buck (2007), The Chinese road: cities in the transition to capitalism. New Left Review, no.46, pp.39-66.
l Thomas G. Rawski (1999), “Reforming China’s economy: what have we learned?” The China Journal, no.41, pp.139-156.
l Yasheng Huang (2008), Capitalism with Chinese characteristics: entrepreneurship and

the state. Cambridge University Press.


Week 14

9 December – 12 December 2013 Final exam week 期末考试


(7). Course assessment


Assessment scheme

Your final grades are determined by the total accumulative points of the following assignments. Students from different programs are assessed based on the same criteria.

Class participation                           10%
Group projects                         25%

Group presentation                

      Group powerpoint and brief synopses   5%
Individual research proposal                   25%
Take-home final                       40%
Total                                100%


Class participation


An example: IES policy for attendance should be noted.

l Class attendance is a component of your final grade. Absence from class will likely affect academic performance.
l Up to 3 unexcused absences throughout the semester are allowed. The student is encouraged to exercise the privilege of the 3-times allowed unexcused absence with caution and sense of responsibility.
l Any excused absence must be requested with valid reasons and documents.
l For both excused and unexcused absences, the student is required to inform the course instructor or TA.
l Even though a student’s absence is excused from class, he/she is not normally excused

the associated class work.


Group projects and requirements


A). Group projects are a significant part of learning activities in this course. The main purpose of group projects is to facilitate learning by doing research and by exchanging views among students. Students will be organized into several groups. Each group will consist of 3 or 4 members. Each group will be assigned a topic under the given theme. Each group is required to give ONE presentation in class, and submit ONE presentation powerpoint and brief synopses in a soft copy to the course TA via email (11210730006@fudan.edu.cn) before the time of presentation (13:00, 21 November 2013 and 13:00, 28 November 2013)


B). Each presentation will have 15 minutes in maximum, followed by 5 minutes Q & A. Students are encouraged for active discussion. For the benefit of all participants, the presenters are encouraged to provide brief synopses of the topic (including references) in writing to the students.


C). The presentations should deal with following issues and have following components. Presentations are basically in a review manner. 

l  Presenting and interpreting key concepts that are highly related to the topic;

l  Highlighting defining features of the topic;

l  Reviewing influential works on the topic, such as their major arguments; and l Underlining your insights and understudied areas of the topic, if any.


Research proposal and requirements


A). Each student needs to write one research proposal (2,000 to 3,000 words). Students have freedom to choose their own interested topics under a broad theme of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. 


B). I intend the individual research proposal to, in addition to issues of practicalities

l Be structured around enquiring a central question designed to stimulate academic interest and curiosity
l Specify research objectives and rationale
l Make a clear hypothesis that the particular insight could be developed to the topic in question by an appropriate perspective
l Engage with a critical review of influential studies and identify research gaps
l Elaborate the workable methodology
l Anticipate the possible implications


To learn more about how to write a research proposal, you can consult the website:



The submission (in Microsoft word format) should be sent to the course TA via email (11210730006@fudan.edu.cn) before or by 17:00, 12 December 2013. Late submission is subject to grade deduction by 20% of the total grade of the research proposal per day.




There is a take-home final exam in the end of the semester. The final consists of 2 short questions (selected from several questions) and 1 long analytical question (selected from several questions). The questions will be emailed to students around 8:00am, 9 December 2013. The questions will be closely related to all lecture and project topics. The questions of the final emphasize depth of understanding and analytical ability. The review sheet will be available in the due course. Each student should submit her/his individual answers (in Microsoft word format) to the course TA through email (11210730006@fudan.edu.cn) before or by 17:00, 12 December 2013. Late submission is subject to grade deduction by 20% of the total grade of the final exam per day.


Academic honesty


Students are advised to pay attention to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to reaches of such policy.











Political Economy of China 中国政治经济状况


Guide for a research proposal





A research proposal is the plan of academic enquiry and discovery. It can be viewed as a written statement to present the exact focus of study and then to plan a research design. It should be structured around enquiring a central question designed to stimulate academic interest and curiosity.

For this course, each student needs to write one research proposal (2,000 to 3,000 words). Students have freedom to choose their own interested topics under a broad theme of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. 


Points to choosing a topic

l  Phenomena or issues that annoy or frustrate you

l  Phenomena or issues that are receiving much media coverage which you think will be interesting to probe further

l  Phenomena that rise a number of questions that you feel need answers


Questions you need to answer in a research proposal

l What is the specific objective of my research project? (research questions)
l Why am I dong a project on this subject? What motivated the study? (project background; reasons)
l What are the important issues the project will investigate? (project contents and tasks)
l How can I deal with my research questions? (methodology)


Key components of a research proposal

l Title: concise and informative
l Introduction: state the objectives of the project, provide an adequate background and anticipate significance of the study (to answer “what” and “why”)
l Literature review: get some reference ideas; engage with a critical review of influential studies and identify research gaps that need to be filled
l Methodology: elaborate the workable ways to find answers/explanations (to answer











n  Build a conceptual or analytical framework: link theory and empirical issues. Theory is taken to be a set of explanatory concepts that are useful for explaining a particular phenomenon or situation.

n  Explain ways and methods to obtain/generate research material (data, information)

n  Explain ways you analyze your data (quantitative or qualitative)

l A list of references cited 



l  Do something that really needs further research, do not repeat other’s works

l  Do something that you can fully manage, do not carry out impossible research


To learn more about how to write a research proposal, you can consult the website: http://researchproposalguide.com 

Political Economy of China




Student Forum Guide





The purpose of student forum is to provide a platform for students to exchange their understandings on the wide range of issues encompassed by this course. It aims to facilitate interactive debate on questions that remain at the forefront of research and policy making.


Practical information


  1. 1.  General guidance
l Each group should select a topic from the topics given.
l Each presentation will have 15 minutes in maximum, followed by 5-minute Q & A. Each group should respect the allocated time. To manage the general dynamic, the chair (course instructor) will invite presenters to conclude their presentations should they extend beyond their allocation time.
l Because of the time constraint, it is vital that all groups limit their presentations to a relatively small number of issues and experiences that they consider particularly important for the class to consider. Presentation should be focused, address a few specific questions, convey a small number of key messages, and should not detract from the assigned topic. Please keep presentation slides as simple as possible. Each presentation should be aiming for no more than 20 slides.
l In order to minimize delays between presentations and ensure that the presentations run to schedule, presentation PPTs should be uploaded onto the TA’s computer no later than 3 minutes before the forum is due to start. The use of personal laptop computer is not encouraged.
l Please note that equipment for the projection of physical slides or transparencies will not be available.
l Each group should provide a one-page synopsis of the presentation (to highlight main points) in a hard copy to the students during the presentation.
l Presentation PPTs and brief synopses should be submitted in a soft copy to the course TA

via email (11210730006@fudan.edu.cn) before the time of presentation (13:00, 21 November 2013 and 13:00, 28 November 2013).


  1. 2.  Presentation arrangement

l To be announced in the due course.


  1. 3.  Labor division
l All members of the group should participate in and make contribution to the group project. However, the labor division of each group in terms of preparation and presentation is the internal matter of individual groups. Group members should divide the project into tasks by consensus and determine the division of labor at the outset of the project.
l Given the time constraint and the size of the group, it is impossible for all members of the

group to make oral presentation in the class. To make sure the participation of every member of the group in the group project, it is suggested that the group members can share the labor in this practical way: (1) All members should participate in preparing the project; (2) Two or three representative members (no more than three) are responsible for delivering the ideas of your topic in the class; (3) The other members who are not presenting should participate in Q & A. 


  1. 4.  Performance evaluation submit it to the TA by email (Miss C.Y. Zhang, 11210730006@fudan.edu.cn) before or by 17:00, 12 December 2013 to declare the percentage of your personal contribution in the group project. Those who fail to submit the form will receive no credit for the group project.
l The group project will be assessed based on content (do presenters adequately support their points?), organization (is the presentation logical?), visual aids (are visual aids synchronized with the oral presentation?), and question answer (can the questions be answered appropriately?). 
l The group project will also be assessed based on the fulfillment of the all project requirements indicated in this information sheet.
l To minimize the “free ride” problem, the group project is evaluated on a group basis as well as on an individual basis. Therefore the best way to get a high grade is to play to the strength of every group member.
l Each student should fill the private-bid form, as an important reference of grading, and


Private bid form

Name ______________________________________________________________________

Names of other team members___________________________________________________


I feel my contribution to this project is worth____% of the team mark

This is because (e.g. attended all meetings, collected necessary material, contributed ideas, did a fair share of the work, other particular contributions, etc.)



Signed______________________________________________________________________ Date_______________________________________________________________________



Topics and selective issues


(1)   Poverty and inequality

Like elsewhere, Chinese people care about how economic resources and development outcomes are distributed, concerns which have been heightened by recent developments. In the presentation, you may wish to address some of the following questions:

l Which measures of poverty are most useful to Chinese policy makers, in terms of enabling them to design policies and allocate resources effectively?
l What factors (e.g. globalization, changes in welfare systems, local government practices) have played the greater role in shaping current trends in poverty and inequality?
l What policy approaches (e.g. conditional transfers, general redistribution) hold the greater promise to deliver effective solutions?
l Looking ahead, what are some of the most pressing challenges that local governments are

likely to confront in the future to provide affordable housing, as well as adequate urban infrastructure to ordinary citizens?


(2)   Quality of development

Quality of development takes us beyond the notion of economic growth, requiring considerations of effective use of resources, people’s subjective well-being, the quality of the natural environment where people live, people’s health, and the features of the governance system, etc. In the presentation, you may wish to address some of the following questions:

l Despite of many drawbacks, what does GDP remain as a key measurement of development?
l What are the priorities for measuring China’s development outcomes (for example, measuring subjective well-being)?
l How malleable are government institutions to change in order to improve low well-being achievements?
l How does the interaction of market, society and government affect the current situation of

quality of development? Provide evidence.


(3)   Caring for the elderly

A rapid ageing of the population is affecting China as a result of restrictive birth policy. This trend, when combined with low-level of development, under-development of the social security system and high participation in the labor market by Chinese women, is leading to greater care needs for seniors. Even when not affected by medical conditions, elderly people may need assistance with respect to day-to-day activities and face risks of social isolation. Even when specific programs are in place, most of the care burden associated to old-age falls on families. In China, current policies are being developed in a piecemeal manner, rather than being constructed in a sustainable manner. In the presentation, you may wish to address some of the following questions:

l What are the most important factors bearing on the well-being of Chinese elderly people?
l What are the main factors that will shape the demand for care by the elderly in the coming future?
l How will demographic and labor market trends affect the supply of family available to care?
l How can policies best support informal carers and help achieve a better balance between

private responsibility and public support in care-giving?


(4)   Social cohesion

Over the past decades, many Chinese cities have achieved strong growth rates and increased economic prosperity as a result of urbanization, laying the foundations of a better life for attracting more migrants. While migrants may great contribution to urban development, there are strong sentiments of disconnection between the concerns of local governments and those of migrants (e.g. wage increase, access to quality public education). Resource redistribution is skewed to those deemed productive and valuable and excludes those defined as surplus. Such disconnect threatens the country’s social cohesion, weakening people’s sense of belonging, and opportunities for social mobility. In the presentation, you may wish to address some of the following questions:

l What are constituent elements of the notion of social cohesion? What are the main dimensions of social cohesion in the Chinese context?
l What can we learn from past experiences and existing practices? To what extend, does China’s development be a process of distillation, concentration, segregation and exclusion?
l How can Chinese governments at different levels contribute to strengthening social

cohesion? What types of policies and programs have proved more effective in securing the economic and social integration of migrants in cities?



No Announcement posts