Fewsmith Gives Talk at SOAS on Rethinking Chinese Politics

Joseph Fewsmith, Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, on March 15, 2019 on “Rethinking Chinese Politics.”

Rethinking Chinese politics is the topic that Fewsmith is currently researching during his sabbatical and for which he was recently granted support from the Smith Richardson Foundation.

From the abstract of Fewsmith’s talk:

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.

Fewsmith is Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University. He is the author or editor of eight books, including, most recently, The Logic and Limits of Political Reform in China (January 2013). Fewsmith travels to China regularly and is active in the Association for Asian Studies and the American Political Science Association.