Course syllabus

Politics 354: China and the World

SEMESTER 2, 2018

15 points

Mondays 12-2pm, 801-209 (8 Eden Crescent, rm 209)

Office Hours:  207 440 (Arts 2, rm 440), Mondays 2-4pm

(For tutorial times and locations, consult Student Services Online)

Course Convenor: 

 Stephen Noakes -  Twitter: @stephennoakes14


Course Overview and Objectives

This course is about China’s foreign relations since 1978, a topic of immense importance for both China and the world. On the one hand, China’s emergence as a diplomatic and economic heavyweight is shifting the global balance of power, shaping the responses of governments and intergovernmental organizations, and posing fundamental questions about the nature of world order itself. Indeed, China’s rise is perhaps the most significant geopolitical event since the fall of the Roman Empire. On the other hand, China’s status as the world’s fastest growing economy, the leading producer of carbon emissions, and its enduring reputation as a human rights violator all make it a key country of interest for an array of governmental and non-governmental actors wishing to effect domestic changes.

The course is designed as an introduction to China’s role in international affairs, and its impact on the global economy, polity, and environment. By its end, students should have an understanding of how Chinese foreign policies are made and why they are of such global importance. The overarching goal of the paper, however, is to develop students’ critical and analytical thinking skills. Students will have a chance to demonstrate such skills through a variety of written assignments designed to encourage curiosity and creativity, and allow students to focus on research topics of interest to them.



The course consists of 12 two-hour lectures throughout the semester. Recordings of the lectures will be made available each week, and will uploaded via the Annoucements page on Canvas.

For students enrolled at the Stage 2 level, lectures are supplemented by a weekly tutorial session at which the tutor will lead discussions based on questions submitted by students about course readings, and offer guidance on essay and exam writing techniques. Students enrolled at the Stage 3 level will participate in an ungraded weekly discussion hour run by the Lecturer. While participation in tutorials/discussion hours will not be graded, attendance and active engagement will provide a greater understanding of the course content as well as prepare students for assignments, tests and examinations.

All students are required to complete one critical review essay (due by 4pm on Friday, 21 September), take a midterm test one hour in length (in class Week 6), and sit a final examination, as well as attend and participate in weekly tutorial/discussion sessions. The expectations and assessment standards will be benchmarked to Stage II courses for those enrolled in Politics 254 and benchmarked to Stage III courses for those in Politics 354.



The main text for the course is Marc Lanteigne, Chinese Foreign Policy: An Introduction, 3rd Ed., (London and New York: Routledge, 2015), hereafter abbreviated CFP.  The text is available for purchase at Ubiq. Alternatively, this text is digitally available in full under ‘Reading Lists’ on Canvas or via and the library catalogue.


Weekly Lecture Topics and Required Readings:

Wk. 1. China’s Place in World Politics

CFP, ch. 1

June Teufel Dreyer, "The Tianxia Trope: Will China Change the International System?" in Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 24, Issue 96 (2015), pp. 1015-1031.

Chunman Zhang, "How to Merge Western Theories and Chinese Indigenous Theories to Study Chinese Politics," in Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 22, No. 2, (June 2017), pp. 283-294).


Wk 2. What Makes Chinese Foreign Policy?

CFP, chs. 2 & 5


Wk. 3. Meet the Neighbours: China in East Asia

CFP, ch. 7

James Reilly, "China's Economic Engagement with North Korea," in China Quarterly, Vol. 220 (2014), pp. 915-935. 


Wk. 4. Cross-Strait Relations

Yitan Li and Enyu Zhang, "Changing Taiwanese Identity and Cross-Strait Relations," in Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 22, No. 1, (March 2017), pp. 17-35.

Chin-Hao Huang and Patrick James, "Blue, Green or Aquamarine? Taiwan and the Status Quo Preference in Cross-Strait Relations," in China Quarterly, Vol. 219, (2014), pp. 670-692.


Wk. 5. Sino-US Relations and the Geopolitics of China’s Rise

CFP, chs. 6 & 8

Jiangyu Wang, "Legitimacy, Jurisdiction, and Merits in the South China Sea Arbitration: Chinese Perspectives and International Law," in Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 22, No2. (June 2017), pp. 185-210.


Wk. 6. Midterm Examination

**Test to be held in-class. Details to follow.

No Readings.


Wk. 7. China Into Africa

Chris Alden and Daniel Large, "On Becoming a Norms Maker: Chinese Foreign Policy, Norms Evolution and the Challenge of Security in Africa," in China Quarterly, Vol. 221, (2015), pp. 123-142.

Fei-Ling Wang and Esi A. Elliot, “China in Africa: Presence, Perceptions, and Prospects,” in Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 23, No. 90, (2014), pp. 1012-1032.


Wk. 8 The Next Frontier of Chinese Foreign Aid: The Pacific Islands

Reuben Steff and Francesca Dodd-Parr, "Examining the Immanent Dilemma of Small States inn the Asia-Pacific: The Strategic Triangle between New Zealand, the US, and China," in Pacific Review, OnlineFirst, 15 January 2018,

Kate Hannan and Stewart Firth, "Trading with the Dragon: Chinese Trade, Investment, and Development Assistance in the Pacific Islands," in Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 24, Issue 95, (2015), pp. 865-882. 

Denghua Zhang and Stephanie Lawson, "China in Pacific Regional Politics," in The Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, OnlineFirst (April 2017), pp. 197-206.


Wk. 9  International Organizations and China

CFP, ch. 4

Anastasia Shesterinina, “Evolving Norms of Protection: China, Libya, and the Problem of Intervention in Armed Conflict,” in Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Vol. 29, No. 3, (2016), pp. 812-830.


Wk. 10 China and the Global Economy

CFP, ch. 3

Charles Burton and Stephen Noakes, "Forging Free Trade with China: The Maple Leaf and the Silver Fern," in Pacific Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 4, (December 2016), pp. 839-858. 


Wk. 11 Soft Power in Practice

Scott Kennedy, "The Myth of the Beijing Consensus," in Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 19, Issue 65, (2010), pp. 461-477. 

Barry Naughton, "China's Distinctive System: Can it be a Model for Others?" in Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 19, Issue 65, (2010), pp. 437-460. 


Wk. 12 Global Activism and NGOs in China

Jennifer Y. J. Hsu, Carolyn L. Hsu, and Reza Hasmath, "NGO Strategies in an Authoritarian Context, and their Implications for Citizenship: The Case of the People's Republic of China," in Voluntas, Vol. 28, No. 3, (2017), pp. 1157-1179.

Stephen Noakes, The Advocacy Trap: Transnational Activism and State Power in China, (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2017), pp. 1-16.


Course summary:

Date Details