Government and politics of china pols 442 sisea 449
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GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF CHINA POLS 442/SISEA 449. Susan Whiting, Ph.D. Associate Professor, University of Washington, Seattle. Studying the Chinese case. How can comparative theory help us understand China better? What does China tell us about important comparative theoretical questions?.

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GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF CHINA POLS 442/SISEA 449

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Government and politics of china pols 442 sisea 449

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF CHINA POLS 442/SISEA 449

Susan Whiting, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, University of Washington, Seattle


Studying the chinese case

Studying the Chinese case

How can comparative theory help us understand China better?

What does China tell us about important comparative theoretical questions?


The chinese case in comparative context

The Chinese case in comparative context

  • Theoretical puzzles

    • Authoritarian resilience

    • Political institutions and economic growth


Theoretical puzzle 1

Theoretical puzzle 1

  • How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

    • Challenge to modernization theory

      • Economic development, education, urbanization, emergence of middle class

         associated with democratization


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

Political institutions matter:

Regime typePercent surviving as of 1998*

Military11

Personalistic16

Single party50

*regimes existing or formed since 1946

Source: Barbara Geddes, “What Do We Know About Democratization?”


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power1

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

  • Political institutions

    • In single-party regimes

      • Allow participation and popular influence without giving up party’s dominant role in the political system

    • This course part 2


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power2

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

  • How big a threat is factionalism to the CCP regime?

  • China perspective:

Ousted Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power3

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

  • How big a threat is factionalism to the CCP regime?

  • Comparative theory:

    • In single-party regimes,

      • factions

        • strong incentives to cooperate in order to maintain power

        • less threatening to regime stability than in other types of authoritarian regimes

    • This course part 1


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power4

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

  • How big a threat is factionalism to the CCP regime?

  • China perspective:

Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to investigate and warned that if political reforms were not implemented, China risked a new Cultural Revolution.

Ousted Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power5

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

  • How big a threat is factionalism to the CCP regime?

  • Political history matters:

    • How did factional politics play out during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976?

    • This course part 1


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power6

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

Political beliefs matter: Survey of 3,183 PRC residents

What is democratic Percent

Legitimacy? Responding

Procedural25

Substantive*14

Mixed 5

Incoherent15

Don’t know42

*Substantive: refers to the Confucian notion of “minben” (民本)

Source: Shijian Tian & Jie Lu, “The Shadow of Confucianism”


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power7

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

Political beliefs matter: Survey of 3,183 PRC residents

What is democratic Percent

Legitimacy? Responding

Procedural25 potential challenge to regime

Substantive*14

Mixed 5

Incoherent15

Don’t know42

*Substantive: refers to the Confucian notion of “minben” (民本)

Source: Shijian Tian & Jie Lu, “The Shadow of Confucianism”


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power8

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

  • Political beliefs and political history matter

    • Confucian notion of minben

      • “Rulership should be entrusted to those with superior knowledge and virtue”

      • Legitimacy is defined by substance: how well the regime performs and cares for its people

      • “Ordinary citizens have the right to participate only under extreme conditions—if a rule loses the “Mandate of Heaven”

      • This course  Part 1


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power9

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

Political beliefs matter: Survey of 3,183 PRC residents

What is democratic Percent

Legitimacy? Responding

Procedural25

Substantive*14  potential support for regime

Mixed 5

Incoherent15

Don’t know42

*Substantive: refers to the Confucian notion of “minben” (民本)

Source: Shijian Tian & Jie Lu, “The Shadow of Confucianism”


Theoretical puzzle how do authoritarian regimes stay in power10

Theoretical puzzle: How do authoritarian regimes stay in power?

Political beliefs matter: Survey of 3,183 PRC residents

What is democratic Percent

Legitimacy? Responding

Procedural25

Substantive*14

Mixed 5

Incoherent15

Don’t know42 not threatening for regime

*Substantive: refers to the Confucian notion of “minben” (民本)

Source: Shijian Tian & Jie Lu, “The Shadow of Confucianism”


Course logistics

Course logistics

  • Syllabus and website


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