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International Political Economy of China


Admission requirements

Some background in Contemporary East Asian politics, economics, and international relations would be beneficial.


As protestors gathered in Tiananmen Square to demand greater political rights in the summer of 1989, it appeared as though the changes that swept Europe with the collapse of the Soviet Union were being replicated in China. Over two decades later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains in power, having successfully negotiated the end of the Cold War and built the foundations for China’s rise as a Great Power in the world. China is now integrated into the world economy and has played important political roles, such as directing the course of the six party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization. Yet, to many states, China’s rise appears threatening, despite China’s historical identity as a ‘benign hegemon’ in the Sino-Centric Tributary System until the mid-19th century. Military and political tensions between China and Taiwan threaten to undermine the stability of the Northeast Asian region, and China’s historical animosity towards Japan endures despite strengthening economic ties.

This course will explore China’s role in the contemporary international political economy (IPE) of the East Asian region. The course begins with an introduction to China’s international political economy, foreign policy making process, as well as an examination of how International Political Economy (IPE) theories can help explain China’s role in world affairs. These perspectives are applied to interpret the Chinese government’s response to the Tiananmen Square incident at the end of the Cold War and to contemplate the notion of China as a ‘Fragile Superpower’. The next seven classes explore the connections between a series of political, economic, and security issues in China’s relations with Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, ASEAN, North Korea, the European Union, and the United States from various theoretical perspectives. The course concludes by considering China’s regional and global roles in the wake of the credit crunch.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical examination of key issues and processes related to the international political economy of China. The focus of this module is on developments since World War Two, but with a particular emphasis on the post-Cold War period. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the complex issues and processes related to China’s political, economic and security relations

  • Apply conceptual tools to analyze key events and processes in the international political economy of China

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts on China’s international political economy, and participate in class debates


Tuesdays 9-11, see timetable on the website Languages and Cultures of China

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Participation element (incl. attendance, participation, web posts, and debate): 40%
Analytical element (essay plan (1,000 words)): 20%
Research element (research essay (2,000-2,500 words)): 40%


A handbook denoting weekly readings will be posted on Blackboard the week before the start of the semester.
Additional information (powerpoints, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on blackboard over the course of the semester, Blackboard

Reading list

The course is structured around three core textbooks, which will be available on Dr. Black’s Shelf in the East Asian library. These textbooks may also be purchased from the internet and local bookshops. Students are advised to read Breslin in preparation for the course.
Breslin, S. 2009. China and the Global Political Economy. Palgrave MacMillan.
Zhao, Quansheng. Liu, Guoli. Eds. 2009. Managing the China Challenge: Global Perspectives. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
Ravenhill, J. 2011. Global Political Economy. Oxford: OUP.


Students can sign up to the class via uSis. see also ‘Aanmeldprocedures voor colleges en tentamens’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register for courses.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply,

Contact information

Dr. L. Black
Room 008, Het Arsenaal;
Office Hours: Tuesday 15:00-17:00
Alternative times are by appointment only


This course provides a solid foundation in International Political Economy upon which students can build in the BA3 Regionalism and Regionalization in the International Relations of East Asia course.