nl en

Government and Politics in Modern China


Admission requirements

Students who wish to participate in this module are generally expected to have passed the first-year lecture “Introduction to the Politics and Economics of Modern China”.


This course deals with the legacies of the Chinese revolution and the working of the political system in mainland China and on Taiwan. The approach is thematic rather than historical: it focuses on the political institutions (“polity”) of China, and the question of how power is distributed between various institutions and political actors. The course also highlights the problems of exercising political control and maintaining effective governance in a rapidly changing political, social, and economic environment.

Course objectives

Participants in this course will acquire the following:

  • An understanding of basic theoretical political science concepts, and the ability to critically review and then apply these concepts both to the People’s Republic of China and to the Republic of China on Taiwan.

  • An understanding of the major Chinese political institutions, their functions, responsibilities, and limitations.

  • Knowledge of party-state relations and the ways the Party exercises control over the state machinery in the PRC.

  • A grasp of the public administration mechanisms that characterize the Chinese civil service.

  • An understanding of the mechanisms used to maintain effective rule in China.
    The course will provide the necessary background knowledge for the pursuit of BA3 and MA courses on Chinese politics. For an optimum learning outcome, students of this course are strongly encouraged to also follow the BA2 course “International Relations of China” (second semester).


W01: Course Introduction. Governance and China’s “Authoritarian Resilience”.

W02: The Chinese Legislature.
W03: The Party and the Civil Service: Personnel Politics, Nomenclatura & Bianzhi.
W04: The Logic of Central Planning: Success and Failure in Political Decision-Making.
W05: The Chinese State and Central-Local Relations.
W06: Participation I: Village and Township Elections
W07: Participation II: Non-Governmental Organizations and China’s “Civil Society”.

W08: No Class.

W09: E-Governance and its Effects
W10: Cultural Governance and the Media: Regulating Society by Regulating Culture.
W11: Soft-Power and China’s International Charm Offensive.
W12: Taiwan I: The Transition of Taiwan’s Political System – From Central Authority to Democratization.
W13: Taiwan II: Green vs. Blue – Taiwan’s Political Parties.
W14: Concluding Session: China, the Fragile Superpower?


Mode of instruction


The work-load for this course will roughly be as follows:

  • Seminar time: 24 hours

  • Reading and course work: 76 hours

  • Writing the final paper: 40 hours
    Total: 140 hours

Assessment method

In order to pass this course, the following will be required of the participants:

  • Regular course assignments (40% of final mark).

  • Research paper (60% of final mark).
    Regular, punctual attendance, thorough preparation of reading material, and continuous course participation are also expected.


A list of weekly readings will be posted on blackboard the week before the start of the semester.

Additional information (lecture slides, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

The following books are required background reading for this course:

  • Lieberthal, Kenneth (2003), Governing China, 2nd ed., New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

  • Saich, Tony (2004), Governance and Politics of China, 2nd ed., New York: Palgrave.

Additional course readings will be announced during the introduction session of the course.


Enroll on time via uSis
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

For questions or additional information please contact your study coordinator, or the lecturer:
Dr. Florian Schneider
Office Location: Arsenaal 009