The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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Special Topics in Public History (Contemporary China): Contemporary China 2019-20, Term 2 

Lecturer:Prof. LAM Wo-Lap Willy
TA: Jessie Woo

Lecture Time: Tue 6:30pm - 9:15pm
Lecture Venue: YIA 505
Language: English


This course takes an intensive look at China since the start of the Era of Reform and the Open Door in 1978. The major policies and legacies of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders including Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping will be analyzed. Emphasis will be put on 21st-century China: the Fourth-Generation Leadership under President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao (2002-2012) and the current Fifth-Generation Leadership under President Xi (from 2012 onwards). Focus will be put on ideas and policies introduced in the past two decades in the areas of political, economic, social, and legal reforms. Initiatives such as “putting people first,” “the Scientific Theory of Development,” “constructing a harmonious society” – as well as “realizing the Chinese Dream and the Renaissance of the Chinese nation” – will be assessed from a historical perspective. Discussion will be conducted on the Hu and Xi administration’s handling of new forces such as nationalism as well as the rise of the civil society and the entrepreneurial class. The viability of the “China model” will be appraised in light of China’s much-enhanced international role in the wake of the global financial crisis. For example, will the China Model be able to maintain a relatively high GDP growth rate and will it facilitate the long-anticipated restructuring of the economy? Does the on-going “Cold War” with the U.S., including what some analysts call the largest-scale trade dispute in history, demonstrate deficiencies in both the China model and Chinese-style reform? The course will also examine the evolution of Beijing’s foreign policy and China’s relations with the United States and other major countries and blocs. President Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative – and how this will enhance China’s global power projection – will be thoroughly appraised. Other relevant issues that will be discussed include: the significance of the 17th, the 18th and the 19th Party Congresses (2007, 2012 and 2017); legal and judicial reforms; energy and food security; environmental issues; the civil society and the media; the special status and influence of the People’s Liberation Army; ethnic issues in Xinjiang and Tibet; and the larger implications of the current movement in Hong Kong against the “Extradition Bill.”

   Students are encouraged to take a pro-active approach in both class discussion and writing term papers. TV footage and documentaries of major recent events and developments will be shown to stimulate discussion and research.