This is an introductory course offered to students with no previous background in political science. It covers the basic concepts, institutions and processes that one would encounter in the study of politics. Emphasis will be placed on the application of concepts to current issues, including (but not restricted to) that of Hong Kong.
From Hong Kong's political demonstration on July 1st to the protest rally organized by your student union, social protest is undoubtedly an important form of politics. Outside of the formal and institutionalized channels, people do take politics onto the streets and use disruptive means to achieve political ends from time to time. This course seeks to provide students with grounding in the basic tools of understanding social protest and social movement. In addition to Hong Kong, cases will be drawn from many different countries—from the American civil rights movement to the 2007 democratic demonstrations in Burma, from Gandhi's satyagraha (non-violent resistance) to the more recent "color revolutions" in Europe and Central Asia etc. Students will also learn about influential social movement leaders past and present, such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mandela, Mao, Lech Walesa, Aung San Suu Kyi and more.
Why and how do people participate in politics? What are the channels through which people make their voices heard and interests represented? Why does political participation take different forms in different countries? Why is participation important for democracy to sustain and non-democracies to change? This course will examine the dynamics and patterns of political participation in both democratic and non-democratic societies. Topics will cover voting & election, political party, representative institution, public opinion, civic organization, mass media, lobbying, interest group and informal politics in democratic societies as well as the modes, scope and impact of political participation under nondemocratic regimes.
How has China's grand transformation to a modern nation-state shaped the country's state-society relationship today? By focusing on the tensions and conflicts between the Chinese state and the country's evolving civil society, this course surveys the major protests, rebellions and revolutions in China in the past 150 years. From a comparative perspective, this course particularly examines the economic, social, political and organizational resources that had facilitated various Chinese resistance movements during the country's long and tedious journey to modernity. It also explores how China's revolutionary past had significantly influenced the social movements of mainland China and Hong Kong today. Weekly topics include but are not limited to: the Chinese revolutionary tradition, the concept of "the mandate of heaven", Chinese secret societies & the Triad, underground religions & cults past and present, the Chinese communist movement, the legacies of the Cultural Revolution, the democratic movement of Tian'anmen in 1989, the latest outburst of nationalism in Mainland China, and vairous new forms of social resistance under the ongoing market reforms. Being part of the common core curriculum, this course is also designed to equip the students with conceptual frameworks to critically analyze the causes, processes and outcomes of social protests, rebellions and revolutions in general and to further their understanding on contentious politics—a crucial aspect of human society.
Comparative Politics, Contemporary Chinese Politics
Current Ph.D. Student
Political Propaganda, Contemporary China
Current Ph.D. Student
Current Ph.D. Student
How Does an Authoritarian Regime Choose its Business Collaborator? Evidence from Public-Private Partnerships in China
Hangzhou Normal University 杭州師範大學
Fighting the Many Smokeless Wars: A comparative Study of the Origins, Conceptualisations and Practices of Cultural Security in China and Saudi Arabia
Senior Researcher at Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of
Head of the Asian Studies Unit at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies
Golden Youth: State, Market, and China's Second-Generation Private Entrepreneurs
Assistant Professor (Tenure-track Lecturer-ship)
Nanjing University 南京大學
The Profit-Driven Welfare State in China: Public Housing in Two Prefecture-Level Districts
Winner of the Li Ka Shing Prizes 2017-18
University of Hong Kong 香港大學
Bootstrapping Public Participation in the Global South: Participatory budgeting Reforms in Brazil, China and South Africa
Assistant Professor (Tenure-track Lecturer-ship)
Renmin University of China 中國人民大學
Contentious Challenges and State Capacity: Why Do Governments Respond Differently to Social Protests in Contemporary China?
Associate Professor, Doctoral Adviser
Shanghai Jiaotong University 上海交通大學
Politicized Academic Capitalism: The Chinese Communist Party's Sociopolitical Control Mechanisms over Intellectuals during the Reform Era
Assistant Professor (Tenure-track Lecturer-ship)
Renmin University of China 中國人民大學
Research Grants Council, HKSAR Government
Central Policy Unit, HKSAR Government
Research Grants Council, HKSAR Government
Today, authoritarian states, such as that of China, strive to cultivate political allegiance
among their diasporic subjects through state-run propaganda operations beyond national
borders. Aiming to construct a stable, exclusive, and institutionalized diasporic network of
influence within host societies, autocratic states use extraterritorial propaganda to amass
integrative capacity by dispersing carefully tailored discourses, penalizing opposing
voices, promoting a unified interpretive framework for conceptualizing socio-political
reality, forming a standard meaning system for diasporic communities, coordinating
collective action, and forging an integrated patriotic identity through the repetition of
The early 21st century has witnessed the rise of pro-regime solidarity among diasporic Chinese, a global force buttressing China’s communist regime. In this article, we argue that this unprecedented forging of solidarity is the product of China’s extra-territorial propaganda. The ruling party-state consistently uses concise, catchy, and carefully tailored symbolic resources, such as ‘China insult’ (ruhua) incidents, to extend its political influence beyond national borders. This poses novel challenges to the Westphalian sovereign state. The state’s tactic overseas propaganda operations have facilitated the emergence of an extraterritorial Chinese ‘symbolic state’ that relies on shared symbolism and identity, rather than territorially defined Weberian coercion, to project control over a transnational socio-political domain.
Cultural security has become a major watchword in the national security discourses of both the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Within this discourse, overseas study has been imagined as a conduit for cultural and ideological subversion threatening the authority of the prevailing regimes. At the same time, overseas study has been actively encouraged by both the Chinese and Saudi states as an important element in their modernization projects. In the past two decades, the Chinese and Saudi overseas student populations have been some of the largest in the world. The article seeks to explore these tensions by examining the conceptualisation and practice of cultural security in the PRC and Saudi Arabia through their management of overseas study.
What has driven China, a developing country that has only recently saved itself from nationwide poverty, to increase its investment in social welfare so rapidly and extensively in the past decade? Drawing on extensive field research in a prefecture-level district in southwest China between 2014 and 2017, the authors argue in this article that local governments in China provide welfare housing programmes as a veil for developmentalist industrial policies aimed at industrial upgrading and the improvement of dynamic efficiency. The article demonstrates the unique incentive structure behind the local Chinese governments' role as the front-line investor in social welfare benefits, and how the local state has cunningly used the façade of welfare provision to (1) divert the earmarked budget to implement development-oriented industrial policy; and (2) fake a discursive congruence between the heavily interventionist local practice and the overall neoliberal central-level policy discourse that features deregulation, small government and a laissez-faire developmental pathway. Exploring this set of strategic dynamics underlining the manoeuvres of the Chinese welfare operation helps us understand the variability of welfare state forms and trajectories of developmental strategy in the Global South.
Why do local officials across China respond differently to societal challengers? In this article, the authors analysed six recent and influential social protests in China—the Dongyang protest (2005), Xiamen protest (2007), Weng'an protest (2008), Shanghai Anti-MagLev Railway Project protest (2008), Shenzhen protest (2008) and Shishou protest (2009). The article demonstrates that disparities in state capacity noticeably affect the trajectories of contentious collective actions and shape government responses in China. Local states in China respond to social protests by dynamically and vigorously assessing their capacity as the social protest develops, and by weighing the probable effectiveness of control measures designated for the locale.
In the wake of the global economic crisis of 2008, the Chinese state has enhanced its systematic efforts to rebuild Communist Party branches in private enterprises. This article examines such efforts with specific reference to the campaign initiated in 2012 in Anhui province, one of the most recent initiatives undertaken by the party-state to infiltrate the country's huge and still-growing private sector. The article examines the emerging and dynamic institutional links between provincial party-state apparatus and local private businesses in Anhui and highlights the four key methods used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to extend its control over the increasingly powerful and influential private sector. These mechanisms are establishing new official institutions to coordinate CCP affairs related to the private sector, "sending down" a group of "party-building instructors," rewarding private business elites with appointments to party positions, and reorienting the work of local party organs to better serve the needs of the private sector. Although this business-oriented party building has indeed made the CCP more relevant to private business development and thus increased its organizational presence, it remains unclear whether these efforts have genuinely strengthened the Communist Party's control of the private sector.
Many authoritarian regimes use participatory political reform to maintain control over the societies under their rule and survive global waves of democratization. Recent studies of transitional governance have underscored the importance and intricacy of institutional reform; however, no consensus has been reached on an explanation of the dynamism that shapes institutional reforms under non-democratic systems. Why do authoritarian apparatchiks reform their institutions of governance? How can the varied pathways of these reforms be explained? Post-Deng China provides an ideal laboratory in which to study these issues. Since the 1990s, growing tensions between the Leninist polity and a gradually opened society have compelled local governments in China to test a vast set of participatory reforms. In an examination of three major local participatory budgeting reforms in China, this article maps the main pathways – representation, consultation, and transparency – of these recent sub-national participatory reforms implemented by the incumbent regime, and explores the driving forces that sculpt a reformist model over the alternatives. By introducing an "incentive-contingent framework", this article sketches out the "repertoire" of participatory reforms in the authoritarian governance of China and suggests an explanatory framework for the variation in the strategies and forms of such institutional innovations.
*Also in Debating Regime Legitimacy in Contemporary China: Popular protests and regime performances (ISBN: 9781138289611), edited by Suisheng Zhao, 2017, London, UK: Routledge, pp.228-244.
Today, with social protests a daily phenomenon in China, the Party-state's survival hinges upon its institutional capacity to prevent, monitor, process information on, and overcome real and potential challenges. Over the past decade, the Communist Party has consistently stressed the critical importance of 'stability preservation' (weiwen) as central to ensuring the longevity of the authoritarian regime. Drawing upon intensive interviews and archival research, this article looks into the stability-preservation system in W County in North China. By exploring the institutional configuration, work mechanisms, daily activities and operational principles of the stability-preservation apparatus in the county, the author seeks to gain insight into the PRC regime's mythical operations of 'system maintenance' and the ways in which the Party-state exerts control over society.
Citizen participation in policy making is essential in democracies, but there is much less understanding of the process and substance of it in non-democratic states. Taking local budgetary process as an example, this article compares three pathways of participatory reform undertaken by the communist regime in China, namely the representative pathway, the consultative pathway and the transparency pathway. All three are initiated and administered by the local governments, but differ in a number of crucial aspects from the level of institutionalisation to the form of state–citizenry interaction. These three pathways provide directions the Party-state might consider for nationwide policy reform.
Given their critical influence on society and politics, university students are one of the key target groups for authoritarian political control around the world. To further our understanding of the endurance and resilience of authoritarianism in post-Deng China, it is necessary to examine one of the Party-state's most crucial control frameworks: the institutional mechanism through which it preserves social stability in the nation's 2,358 university campuses, and maintains control over its more than 22 million college students. Drawing upon intensive field research conducted in 2011, this article attempts to map out the structures and measures deployed by the post-Deng regime to nurture political compliance and consolidate its domination of university campuses. By deciphering an essential component of the state's political control apparatus, this article aims to shed new light on the internal operations of the authoritarian system that is running China today.
The Chinese Communist Party persistently stresses the paramount importance of preserving social and political stability in order to maintain its absolute grip on power. Command of loyal, local police forces are integral to this exercise. Relying on intensive interviews, archival research, and on-site observation, the authors examined the daily operations of a city police force operating on the North China Plain between 2008 and 2012. In presenting and interpreting that data, this article details the inner workings of a Chinese municipal police department, exploring its various social functions, and analyzing its political role in mediating social disputes, pacifying tensions, controlling potential contentious challengers and, ultimately, safeguarding the omnipresent Communist regime.
The past two decades have witnessed the unprecedented proliferation of civil-society organizations across China. Yet, contrary to what many political scientists predicted, this proliferation has led neither to the formation of a strong political opposition, nor to any organized anti-systemic social movement. The author of this essay argues that this is due to the unique characteristics of the post-Mao Chinese civil society-including its functional depoliticization, conformity to the ruling regime, supplemental role in service provision, symbiotic relationship with the local authorities, as well as the lack of an engaged intelligentsia who can provide guidance and assume leadership. Combining with the consistent party-state control and the distance between Chinese civil society and the country's burgeoning contentious movements at the grassroots, the inherent weaknesses of contemporary Chinese civil society may have predetermined its limited potential in affecting systematic political change up till today.
*Awarded the 2012 Gordon White Prize for "the most original article or research report published in The China Quarterly in the relevant year".
This article examines the profound transformation market reforms have brought to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) rural grassroots organizations. Focusing on the political rise of private entrepreneurs and other economically successful individuals who recently obtained village Party secretary appointments in a north China county, the article explores their differing promotion channels, power bases, political resources and motivations to take up the CCP's grassroots leadership position. It demonstrates that the variety among the new entrepreneurial Party secretaries – from large factory owners to de facto farm managers – shaped the network resource, factional affiliation and socio-political capital they rely upon to exercise their newly attained power. It also shows the crucial role played by community-based endogenous forces in transmitting the power of economic liberalization into dynamics for the reshuffling of the Communist Party leadership at the grassroots level.
Why do authoritarian regimes endure? Today, scholars tend to deem political institutions "essential for understanding authoritarian politics". Under communist systems, many of these critical regime-supporting functions are undertaken by a particular kind of political institution—the inclusive regime institution. However, inclusive regime institutions of the People's Republic of China (PRC) have remained remarkably under-explored, leaving us with a significantly inadequate understanding of the Chinese party-state and the reasons for its persistence. Drawing on a rich collection of internal working documents collected from the Z County Archives in Hebei Province in 2009, this article is the first attempt to systematically study the functional and political role of a pivotal inclusive regime institution in China—the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC, 中国人民政治协商会议). By exploring original texts that vividly record the daily operations of the Z County CPPCC over two decades, this article demonstrates that the CPPCC, one of the primary organizational structures of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) United Front (tongyi zhanxian, 统一战线), plays a far more important political role than previously thought.
Through conducting ideological indoctrination, dispensing preferential treatment, facilitating controlled political participation and performing constant surveillance over non-communist elites and other social leaders, the CPPCC provides the party-state with an important platform for co-opting potentially threatening social forces, a forum for policy bargaining, a channel for monitoring various social sectors and a mechanism for offering material benefits to the regime's most loyal and trustful collaborators. The party-state also uses this unique consultative body as an instrument for garnering social feedback and building good governance through soliciting advice from CPPCC members and organizing periodic inspection tours. Overall, as this article will show, the CPPCC helps consolidate the communist regime's social base, improve the quality of public services and ultimately strengthen the regime's control over society.
Liberal economic reforms in the post-Maoist era have deprived the grassroots party-state in rural China of its traditional sources of revenue, thereby gradually transforming it from a socialist rentier state into a postcommunist taxation state. The need for taxation by consent to finance the provision of local public goods necessitates the opening of more institutionalized channels of representation and promotes democratic political change at the local level.
In my opinion there are three reasons as to why China is being considered the bad guy; the first one is difference, the second is change, and the third is the future.
We must consider not only the text of this law but also the political discourse surrounding it.
This seminar discussed some “big picture” questions surrounding the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) and “One Country, Two Systems”(OCTS).
By Qiushi / Read More
"Countries that enjoyed full universal suffrage overnight, as in the case of many decolonized countries post World War II, exhibit problems adapting their societies to crash democratization," Yan said.
University of Hong Kong Associate Professor Yan Xiaojun said, "Hong Kong is one of the most important cities in China. It plays a disproportionate role in the national economy."
University of Hong Kong Associate Professor Yan Xiaojun said Hong Kong's proposed Nominating Committee, when compared to Western models, was a more representative institution.
On a Sunday afternoon three years ago, one of China's most-wanted fugitives, dressed in baggy jeans and a striped shirt, walked into the country's pagoda-shaped consulate in Vancouver. Li Dongzhe was ready to take the biggest gamble of his life.
By The Wall Street Journal / Read More
"We have seen a transition from hunting down the 'tigers' to system improvement, such as the registration of real estate," Yan said, adding the anti-corruption campaign would inject "positive energy" into the sessions and present a "new look of the government to the public".
By South China Morning Post / Read More
By 青年參考 / Read More
──周錫瑞(Joseph W. Esherick), 加州大學聖地亞哥分校教授
By HKU Press / Read More
──白瑞琪教授(Marc Blecher), 美國歐柏林大學政治系教授
By The Chinese University Press / Read More
2009 HKU, Seed Funding for Basic Research for New Staff (HKD120, 000)
2011 HKU, Seed Funding for Basic Research (HKD43,000)
2010 HKU, Small Project Funding (HKD80,000)
2013-14 Research Grants Council, Early Career Scheme (HKD733,240)
2013 HKU, Small Project Funding (HKD80,000)
2014 HKU, Seed Funding for Basic Research (HKD83, 800)
2012 HKU, Small Project Funding (HKD73,600)