Problems With Teaching Chinese Politics

For any political science major, there is always time and place to learn about Chinese politics. China is such a huge part of global politics, and to not teach about Chinese politics in a political science course would be like teaching a physics course without algebra. Sometimes colleges require certain majors to take a mandatory course on Chinese politics because of how influential it is to international politics. However, it has become increasingly difficult to have an objective view of China without offending Chinese international students or hiring a professor without a bias toward China.

Why is it a tricky subject?

China has such an interesting influence on the world stage, yet it has a negative reputation. It has violated many human rights, has strict censorship laws, and is far from democracy. But, contrary to popular belief, many Chinese people acknowledge that China is not perfect. They understand its flaws and know China has its shortcomings when they study overseas. The issue is that some Chinese international students believe that negative facts about China taught by a non-Chinese national professor are propaganda or misinformation. Problem also arises when Chinese national professors are employed outside China and teach positive facts about their country in lectures—some students may assume that their Chinese professors have a bias towards China, distrusting them for the rest of the course.

Graph: Spring 2021 Global Attitudes Survey. Q6a., Pew Research Center

It is not an unwarranted problem to worry about professors mixing their own opinions into the lectures. As the survey above done by the Pew Research Center shows, many countries agree that China does not respect personal freedoms in China. Despite what many people believe worldwide, many people from mainland China may disagree. Such disparity in perceptions and opinions appears to be the reason for criticism by some Chinese populations in universities. And with a large Chinese international student population in colleges across the U.S., this is not a problem to overlook for universities.

Importance of Teaching Chinese Politics

Since China has an undeniable presence and influence on the world stage, Chinese politics is a subject that colleges must keep on their curriculum list. Although professors may have different opinions on China from each other or their students, schools should not prevent professors knowledgeable on the subject from teaching. Furthermore, it is certain that having a good understanding of China’s political agenda and how it affects international relations is crucial for students who aim to become policy officers or government representatives in the future.


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