Spring 2011

China's Global Rise: Implications for the Liberal Democratic Order

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-61


Ralph A. Thaxton (Section 01)


This seminar will assess the impact of China's rise for the liberal global democratic order constructed by the United States in the aftermath of World War II. It comprises four parts. First, we will explore how China's limited global engagement during the Cold War backfired and ultimately created a political situation in which Beijing's leaders had  to open China to global market forces. Second, we will attempt to grasp China's quest for grandeur.  We will study the ways in which its grand international strategy poses a challenge to democratic nations, including Japan and South Korea, Australia, the United States, and Europe. We also will pay attention to China's economic commitment to Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, analyzing how this commitment has gone hand in hand with support for anti-democratic forces from Burma (Myanmar) to Sudan to Venezuela and Cuba.  Third, we will analyze how China's growing involvement in the global economy is guided by an authoritarian work style that developed during the formative stage of Mao era state formation.  We will study how this style influences China's global hunt for land and food, wild life reserves, mines and minerals, oil, energy, financial hubs, commercial art, and fashion.  To what extent does this style pose a threat to global political institutions and norms, including those supportive of basic human rights and the rule of law?  Finally, we will ask whether China's ascent will undermine the liberal global democratic order and, in time, pit a rising China against a declining United States and thus increase chances of an armed conflict between authoritarian China and democratic America.

Spring semester. Croxton Fellow Thaxton


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011