Rana Mitter Photo

Rana Mitter

S.T. Lee Professor of U.S.-Asia Relations


How has China’s rise changed the world of the twenty-first century? And what are the forces and factors that shape its global behaviour?  This course takes a range of themes to interpret contemporary China’s actions in the world, and understand how China’s history can explain important aspects of contemporary policy and decision-making.  The course takes key themes and  examines them in both contemporary and historical context.  Among the themes explored are: China’s role in international organizations including the United Nations, influence in shaping regional and global norms and patterns on trade and technology, military expansion, action on climate change, development of identity as a leader of the Global South, and promotion of new forms of ideology.   The course will examine ways that China conforms and embraces some aspects of the current global order, and confronts or revises others, including its relationships with the US, the Global South, and areas of cross-border concern (such as climate change or technological norms).  We will examine the changing nature of China’s global thinking in the twenty-first century, and provide comparisons and contrasts with a range of historical events that have shaped that thinking, such as the conflicts with European empires in the late 19th century, the development of new forms of reformist and revolutionary political thinking in the early 20th century including ideas on class, ethnicity and gender, China’s war against Japan in the 1930s and 1940,  and the revolutionary turmoil of the era Mao Zedong in 1949-76.   The course will illustrate how much, and in what ways, China’s growing prominence has changed the world, and show that analysing China’s history and thought is a key tool for interpreting its actions and intentions in the present day.