CSCC Podcasts

In-depth conversations on Chinese politics, economics, law, and society with faculty, visitors, and guest speakers at the Center for the Study of Contemporary China

Hosted by CSCC Research Scholar Neysun Mahboubi, follow him @NeysunM

Music credit: "Salt" by Poppy Ackroyd, follow her at http://poppyackroyd.com

Special thanks to Nick Marziani and Kaiser Kuo


Ep. 24: China's Rise and IR Theory – Yan Xuetong

published November 15, 2020

No foreign policy topic currently garners more attention in the United States than its relationship with China, especially in light of China’s rise over the past few decades as an economic, technological, military, and strategic power and rival.  In this episode, Neysun Mahboubi discusses with Yan Xuetong, one of China’s…

Ep. 23: China's Domestic Security Under Xi Jinping – Sheena Chestnut Greitens

published June 1, 2020

One of the hallmarks of Xi Jinping’s tenure as China’s leader, since 2012, has been the notable strengthening of the state’s coercive architecture, through which it endeavors to control Chinese society.  In particular, Xi Jinping’s administration has substantially restructured the legal and institutional frameworks underpinning China’s domestic security, while also tightening central discipline over security personnel, and pioneering new technology-based…

Ep. 22: Unpacking the Present Crisis in US-China Relations – Ryan Hass

published December 6, 2019

Whatever the likelihood or implications of a potential truce in the US-China trade war, it seems clear that the overall relationship between the two countries has lately entered into a new, more harder-edged phase, defined by competition and perhaps even conflict in multiple areas: economic, technological, ideological, strategic, and conceivably military as well.  In the United States, heated debates over US-…

Ep. 21: The Rule of Law in Hong Kong (Part Two) – Johannes Chan

published October 24, 2019

Dramatic protests in Hong Kong over the past four months, initially over a now-withdrawn draft law that would permit extraditions to mainland China, have brought to worldwide attention broader fears amongst Hong Kong residents that their city is losing its distinctive legal and political characteristics, that were supposedly to be preserved under Chinese rule, according to the principle of “One Country, Two…

Ep. 20: The Rule of Law in Hong Kong (Part One) – Johannes Chan

published June 15, 2019

Dramatic protests in Hong Kong this month, over a draft law that would permit extraditions to mainland China, underscore broader fears amongst Hong Kong residents that their city is losing its distinctive legal and political characteristics, that were supposedly to be preserved under Chinese rule, according to the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”.  A critical juncture in Hong Kong’s fascinating history…

Ep. 19: How to Be a Sensitive China Watcher – Kaiser Kuo

published May 24, 2019

Today, the reality and consequences of China’s rise have come to dominate news headlines the world over.  Along with China’s growing wealth and power have come new tensions, with the United States and other countries, that further require better understanding of China’s story, in all its different facets.  Given the stakes, there may never have been a more important time for us to think about how we…

Ep. 18: Chinese Governance Under Xi Jinping – Victor Shih

published April 26, 2019

Despite little foreshadowing before he took office, President Xi Jinping has emerged as perhaps the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.  This was reinforced in March 2018 when China’s National People’s Congress voted overwhelmingly to abolish presidential term limits, as had been stipulated under the 1982 PRC Constitution, a feature which had been understood to be critical to the new…

Ep. 17: Diagnosing China’s State-led Capitalism – Yasheng Huang

published April 12, 2019

As Chinese economic growth slows to its lowest rate in 30 years, there is rising concern (including among some Chinese scholars and officials) about the long-term viability of China’s distinctive form of state-led capitalism, sometimes characterized in terms of a “China Model”.  Nevertheless, the Chinese government still appears committed to the approach marked by heavy state intervention in the economy that…

Ep. 16: Local Governance and Accountability in China – Dan Mattingly

published April 4, 2019

How do autocratic regimes secure political obedience, and implement unpopular policies, without always resorting to outright coercive tactics?  In a provocative new book, Yale University political scientist Dan Mattingly argues that, in China, state power exercised through local governments relies on local civil society groups

Ep. 15: Property Rights and Economic Development in China – Susan Whiting

published March 19, 2019

At least since China’s 1994 fiscal and tax reforms, land-backed development has served as the greatest source of revenue for Chinese local governmentspotentially almost 1 trillion US dollars in total…

Ep. 14: The Evolution of Workers' Rights in China – Mary Gallagher

published March 12, 2019

Economic reform since the late 1970s, as well as the dynamics of globalization unleashed in full by China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, have significantly complicated the relationship between the Chinese Party-state and Chinese workers.  Some of this complexity was made apparent in the 1990s, after millions of workers were laid off from state owned enterprises, and then it was highlighted again…

Ep. 13: Rights Lawyering in China – Teng Biao

published March 5, 2019

Over the past 16 years, there has emerged in China a community of self-identified "rights defense" (weiquan) lawyers, akin to "cause lawyers" in the United States, who select cases and frame legal advocacy with a goal of achieving wider societal impact.  Once celebrated in official discourse, these lawyers have increasingly come under scrutiny and pressure by the Chinese Party-state, that has intensified despite official promotion of "rule of law" concepts since the CCP Central Committee's…

Ep. 12: Gender Inequality in China – Yun Zhou

published February 26, 2019

Chairman Mao famously proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky,” and there are many ways in which women’s status, rights, and opportunities have improved under CCP rule.  That said, patriarchal ideas about the role of women have continued to find robust expression in China, in different and evolving ways, since 1949 and through the reform & opening period.  In this episode, Brown University sociologist…

Ep. 11: China's One-Child Policy – Wang Feng

published February 19, 2019

The Chinese government is currently in the process of dismantling the family planning policies which it introduced in the 1970s, and developed alongside its program of reform & opening over the past 40 years—which are most famously associated with the one-child limit for most Chinese families, that was finally converted into a universal two-child limit starting in 2016.  In so doing, the government is…

Ep. 10: Taiwan and the Global Order – Shelley Rigger

published February 12, 2019

What explains Taiwan’s outsized presence in our news headlines, especially over the first two years of the Trump administration?  What can be learned from its raucous process of democratization over the past thirty years?  How will it continue to forge its unexpected identity, against the backdrop of China’s ever-deepening shadow?  In this episode, Davidson College political scientist…

Ep. 9: Overreach and Overreaction: The Crisis in US-China Relations - Susan Shirk

published February 7, 2019

The following is a live recording of the 2019 Annual Public Lecture at Penn’s CSCC delivered by Susan Shirk, and introduced by the Center’s Director, Avery Goldstein. The event took place on January 31, 2019. 

Ep. 8: Civil Society and Civic Engagement in China – Bin Xu

published November 5, 2018

Amidst various commentaries on the 10th anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake, this past summer, a prominent theme has been the sense of possibility for civil society in China that was initially generated by the outpouring of social volunteerism, unprecedented in Chinese history, which followed the disaster.  That earlier optimism about civil society appears less robust in China today, within an overall…

Ep. 7: Internet Culture and Politics in China – Guobin Yang

published October 9, 2018

Current headlines about how authoritarian regimes have come to harness and even weaponize the internet may obscure how this technology, at one time, was more typically understood to be a democratizing force, across a range of different contexts. In the early days of Chinese cyberspace, for example, popular expression on various internet forums seemed to herald a new stage in political activism, that was pressing the boundaries of traditional state control. In this episode, University of…

Ep. 6: Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – Natalie Lichtenstein

published July 2, 2018

Launched by China in June 2015, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ("AIIB") currently has eighty-six members and, with $100 billion in capital, has lent around $4 billion to infrastructure projects throughout Asia. The AIIB's very creation is an important marker in China's economic and strategic rise over the past forty years, from a poor country that was entirely outside of the Bretton Woods financial system, to the largest borrower from the World Bank, and now, to the creator of a competitor…

Ep. 5: China & North Korea Relations – John Park

published May 8, 2018

As the nuclear standoff between North Korea and the United States dominates global headlines, the relationship between North Korea and China, though little understood, has attracted ever greater attention. In this episode, the Harvard Kennedy School's John Park, a leading expert on security issues relating to Northeast Asia, discusses with Neysun Mahboubi the complex relationship…