Sample Course for MA program in Contemporary China Studies

China's Rise and Sino-American Relations
(Sample Course for MA program in Contemporary China Studies)

Course Description

    Nowadays, China’s rise and the future of Sino-American relations have become a subject of intense debate among academics and policymakers worldwide. Some believe that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) constitutes an inexorable threat to US security and interests in the world order. Others are more optimistic, on the grounds that China’s growing integration into the international system will likely increase Beijing’s affinity with the prevailing order. Still others follow a middle course, observing that the Sino-American relationship is a complex mixture of both cooperative and competitive elements, and that the pressing task today is to expand cooperation and limit competition.

    The main objective of this course is to evaluate the issue in terms of competing propositions and evidence. It seeks to introduce students to some important debates on the causes, dynamics, and future possibilities of Chinese foreign policy and Sino-American relations. In addition, the course is designed to teach several important practical skills to students, e.g., the ability to assess competing views or arguments critically, to analyze a topic comprehensively and creatively, and to present one’s ideas in a cogent and straightforward way.

The course will cover the following topics:

—Perceptions of the “China threat”: Why do some analysts believe China to be a threat? On what assumptions or premises do they build their arguments? How do we evaluate these assumptions and premises?

—Responses to the “China threat” theory: Why do some scholars believe that China would not be a threat? What is the causal logic of their arguments? How do we evaluate their arguments?
—Various hot-spot issues related to China’s rise and Sino-American relations: Will an increasingly powerful China confront the United States and its allies forcefully, especially over Taiwan, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and the South China Sea? What are China’s perceptions of and responses to the US rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific?

—China’s attempts at “Peaceful Development”: What does the concept mean? How do we evaluate it theoretically and empirically? What can the United States do to encourage and assist China’s peaceful development?

—The making of Chinese foreign policy: What are the domestic and international determinants of Chinese behavior? How do these two types of determinants interact with each other? In which ways are they conducive or disruptive to China’s “peaceful development” as well as Sino-American relations?

—The so-called “Beijing Consensus vs. Washington Consensus”: What do these esoteric terms mean? Is China’s development model diametrically opposed to the US/Western model? Will China strive to challenge or replace the Western system?


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Last updated: 2015-06-12 12:43:00         Views: 10497

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