SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Rethinking Chinese Politics

Joseph Fewsmith
Professor Joseph Fewsmith (Boston University)

Date: 15 March 2019Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 15 March 2019Time: 6:45 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 116

Type of Event: Seminar

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The conventional wisdom in the period following Tiananmen was that the Chinese Communist Party would fall victim to domestic pressures and international economic forces and follow the Soviet Union and other socialist systems onto the ‘dustbin of history.’ But it did not happen. In 2003, Andrew Nathan offered an explanation. The factionalism of the past was weakening in the face of growing professionalism and functional specialization. Political succession was increasingly bound by widely accepted norms, and the regime, though still authoritarian, was the beneficiary of feedback mechanisms that allowed a degree of political participation and provided information on contentious issues. In short, institutions were being created that strengthened the regime and extended its longevity. This standard theory of "institutionalization" has been inadequate to understand elite politics. Looking at the tension between a Leninist party structure and the use of balance to maintain stability, this talk explores the leadership dynamics since Deng Xiaoping.


Joseph Fewsmith is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies. He is the author or editor of eight books, including most recently The Logic and Limits of Political Reform in China (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and China since Tiananmen (2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2008). From 2001-2015 he was one of seven regular contributors to China Leadership Monitor, a quarterly web publication analyzing current developments in China. He has written over 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, with articles appearing in such leading journals as The China Quarterly and Asian Studies.


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online Registration

Chair: Professor Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4823