PLSC 300CSpring

Chinese Political and Economic Reform

Few countries have experienced such rapid and profound political, economic and social changes as China
David Groth
Course Introduction
David Groth
David GrothPh.D. Stanford University 

Prof. Groth received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. He has taught at major universities in the United States (Stanford University, University of California, and University of Hawaii), the Netherlands (Leiden University), and China (Peking University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and China Foreign Affairs College). In addition to his academic experience, Prof. Groth has worked for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, and served as a senior advisor to Shenzhen government in Guangdong Province as the city prepared to host the 26th Summer Universiade [World University Games]. He has also worked for a think tank of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology and for Bain & Company, a major management consulting company. Prof. Groth has an American passport, but considers himself to be a citizen of the world. He has lived about half his life in the United States, and about half his life in other countries, mainly Japan, China, and the Netherlands, with frequent visits to Thailand and the Philippines. His interests are: The rise of China’s “middle class”, and its impact on China and the world.

  • China's "middle class"
  • Economic, Political, and Social Reforms in China 
  • Social movements and NGOs
  • China's Conceptions of Ethnicity
  • Olympic Games in China
  • U.S-China relations
  • China-Japan relations

Chinese Political and Economic Reform

This course is accredited through Loyola University Chicago
Download Syllabus

Course Description

Since its “Reform and Opening Up” from 1978, China has achieved an “economic miracle” and has become the world’s second largest economy. Hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been pulled out of poverty, and China’s “middle income group” of voracious consumers is now larger than the middle classes of North America, Europe, and Japan combined.

This course explores how China has been organized, managed and reformed. We will examine the political, economic and social forces that have promoted China’s modernization.

We will explore important questions:

  • How has China achieved this development?
  • Will China be able to sustain robust levels of economic growth?
  • Can China eliminate remaining pockets of poverty, and attain its goals of becoming a “relatively prosperous society” by 2020 and a “great, modern, socialist nation” by 2050?
  • How can China cope with a range of serious problems, including environmental pollution, endemic corruption, increasing economic inequality, and a potential demographic time bomb? [China will be the first country to grow old—to have a significant elderly population—before it becomes wealthy.]

We will use a multi-disciplinary approach and macro and micro perspectives to examine various topics:

  • The political causes and ideological changes for economic reform in China;
  • The roles of Deng Xiaoping and other leaders in promoting reforms;
  • Relations between the Chinese government and private business, as well as with state-owned enterprises;
  • China’s continuing urbanization, and the relationship between the central government and local entities.
  • China’s “one-child policy” [implemented and enforced during 1980-2015] and its social and economic impact;
  • Policies fostering the development of China’s “middle class”; the impact of the middle class on politics and society;
  • Possibilities for greater political reform in China, as well as the development of a more vibrant civil society and more pluralistic politics.

The course will include lectures and discussions, which will focus on assigned readings. We will also discuss short videos, including materials from the state-owned China Global Television Network.

Students will read the work of both Chinese and non-Chinese authors. Readings will include articles and book chapters by political scientists, economists, sociologists, and anthropologists, as well as journalists, government officials, and business leaders.

Courses Outcomes

  • Students will learn about the complexities of political and economic reforms in China and develop skills in analyzing and discussing these reforms in a sophisticated manner.
  • Students will better understand the potential, as well as the obstacles, for creating and sustaining reforms in China.
  • Students will hone their skills in critical analysis, informed discussion and writing.