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Develop an understanding of China that encompasses the fast-paced changes and multiple dimensions shaping the country's political and economic development and its international interactions.


Explore China's political and economic system in contemporary and historical context including leadership, economic and political reform, foreign policy, US-China relations, and environmental challenges.

Contemporary Chinese Politics

Analyzes the domestic politics of the People’s Republic of China, with particular emphasis on the reform era.

This introductory course covers political history, policy process and institutional issues, leadership and the challenge of socioeconomic modernization. Focuses on recurrent and substantive policy issues in Chinese politics.

China and International Law

Over the past thirty years, China has gone from being one of the most isolated countries in the world to a major player in international affairs.

Yet despite its growing power and influence, it maintains an ambivalent attitude towards international law and the liberal international order. This class will explore that ambivalence, and will in particular examine how China might adapt to the existing world order and the ways in which China will look to influence its evolution. The class will cover China’s approach to international peace and security, China’s membership in the WTO, Beijing’s engagement with the international human rights regime, and the South China Sea dispute, among other topics.

US-China Relations

This course examines US policy toward China and specific US-Chinese political, economic, cultural, and security relations, with emphasis on the post-1949 period.

Students will examine the foreign policy process in each nation, recurrent policy issues and their implications for each nation’s behavior, and relations with third parties.

China’s National Security Perspectives

Along with China's emergence as a great power, Communist Party leaders in Beijing face a wide range of traditional and non-traditional security challenges.

Students will examine Chinese perspectives on, and responses to, contemporary national security issues such as North Korea's nuclear program, proliferation more generally, Taiwan and cross-Strait relations, energy security and sea lane protection, space and cyberspace security, and US ""rebalancing"" to the Asia-Pacific region.


Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Andrew Mertha

Director of the SAIS China Global Research Center, George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies, Director of the China Studies Program

David Bulman

Jill McGovern and Steven Muller Assistant Professor of China Studies and International Affairs, Director of the Pacific Community Initiative

Ling Chen

Assistant Professor of Political Economy

In the News

China in Africa: Zambia’s Chinese debts nearly double the official count, study says.

Deborah Brautigam quoted in South China Morning Post, 09/29

Afghanistan debacle aside, U.S. isn’t done with nation-building.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 09/28

Australia sub deal should upset China, not France.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 09/21

Huawei’s decline shows why China will struggle to dominate.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 09/18

The Afghanistan War wasn’t a cynical misadventure.

Hal Brands wrote in Bloomberg Opinion, 08/31

Why we need a sane Republican Party.

Yascha Mounk hosted The Good Fight podcast, 08/28