The Politics of Global China

Course Material 2024/25

China’s increasingly prominent role in the world has attracted all kinds of attention, ranging from adulation to anxiety and war-mongering. Despite the spotlight given to Global China, much of it uncovers only glimpses and shadows. The reason for this is that it focuses on only part of the picture. It is difficult, if not impossible, to disentangle China’s global aspirations from its domestic politics. This paper will begin with an overview of twentieth-century history in China, with special attention given to pivotal moments in the history of the People’s Republic of China.

The paper will delve into the core issues of domestic politics, including: legitimation, ideology, and discourse; organisation and institutions; political economic models and their internal tensions; energy and environmental politics; as well as, China’s borderlands and minority nationalities. The paper will expand its scope to track several of the multiple trajectories and disputed impacts of China’s presence across the globe.

Throughout the paper, it will be necessary to reflexively grapple with how concepts and narratives come with their own sedimented histories and normative inscriptions. Any engagement with Global China requires an attentiveness to multiple voices and perspectives, which are too often submerged in the framing of US-China rivalry.