Liu Kuosung, The Red Sun Rising from Five Flower Pond

China: State, Economy, and Globalization

Instructor: Szu-Yun Hsu
BISR Central
68 Jay Street, #425
Brooklyn, NY 11201

The “rise of China” is discussed in increasingly fraught and contested terms. On the one hand, the People’s Republic of China is often looked upon as an economic miracle, with the most dramatic poverty reduction in human history and “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy,” in the words of the World Bank. On the other hand, China is frequently characterized, across the American political and media spectrum, as a kind of national, global, or “civilizational” threat. How can we reach a more nuanced understanding of China in a globalized world? How can we understand the internal and external dynamics that have contributed to its “rise”?

In this course, we’ll explore China’s rapid development by examining the dynamics between China’s internal reforms, initiated after the death of Mao, and the wider forces of globalization. We’ll start by critically examining the rationale, logics, and politics of China’s post-1979 market reforms, as well as its social and political impacts on both urban and rural populations. As we proceed, we’ll explore the institutions and systems underpinning China’s economic growth, including: domestic and foreign direct investment; its unique property formations and spatially differentiated economic activities (such as Town-and-Village Enterprises and Special Economic Zones); the duality of political centralization-decentralization; and the “hukou” system that constituted China’s post-reform labor regimes. We’ll then turn our attention to China’s “state-owned enterprises” (SOEs)—their position within China’s economy and the crucial role they played during the four-decade market reform era. What, we’ll ask, is the dynamic between China’s public and private sectors? What is its impact on the lives of workers? Finally, we’ll examine China’s position and interventions in the globalized world, including its “Go Abroad” geoeconomic strategy and subsequent “Belt-and-Road Initiative.” What role does China play as a global economic power? How does it fit within, or destabilize, the Atlantic-centric neoliberal economic order? To what extent do China’s activities overseas present, as some argue, a new form of “imperialism”?

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm
September 10 — October 01, 2019
4 weeks


Registration Open

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