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Winter Course A. Uneasy Partners: US-China Relations, 1900-2019

Alumnae Continuing Education
Norris University Center
Tuesday, Jan 7, 2020 at 12:00 AM (CT)

Course A. Uneasy Partners: US-China Relations, 1900-2019

Tuesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Instructor: William Hurst, Professor of Political Science

This course meets on Tuesday mornings beginning on January 7th.

There will be no class on February 25th.

The United States and China are arguably the two most powerful and important countries in the world today. Their bilateral relationship is clearly among the most important between any two states. Yet, comparatively little attention is paid by the media, and even some policy actors, to the underlying dynamics and historical trends in this relationship. This course aims to introduce students to the basic dynamics of strategic thinking and policy-making on both sides, to give an overview of the history of US-China relations, and to discuss a number of key contemporary issues in the relationship in some detail. It also aims to introduce a conceptual and theoretical template for making sense of the complex dynamics of the world’s most important bilateral relationship.

Jan. 7 Introduction / America and China in the Age of Imperialism

Neither the US nor China ever saw itself as a world power – or even really a nation state – before about 1850. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, though, both countries came to redefine themselves and their roles on the international stage. They also began to forge a relationship with each other.

Jan. 14 Legacies, Worldviews, and the Impact of World War II

Even as US-China relations deepened, conflicting legacies of very different earlier histories and sharply divergent emerging worldviews complicated dealings between the two governments. Massive changes to the international order (e.g. World War I) brought new challenges. China was torn apart by World War II, and the US emerged from the war as a fundamentally new kind of player in world affairs.

Jan. 21 The Rise of the CCP and of the US as a Superpower

After the War, the CCP rose to power in China at the helm of the world’s third Communist regime. The way the Party constituted itself and the state it ruled over, as well as its ongoing struggle against the Nationalist government on Taiwan, structured its foreign policy outlook and constrained its behavior. The US was challenged to remake itself as the world’s first superpower after 1945. This also powerfully influenced new structures and norms of its foreign and national security policy in ways that had important implications for how it dealt with China.

Jan. 28 The Cold War in Asia, Hot Wars in Korea and Vietnam

The Cold War was at least as acute in Asia as it ever was in Europe (indeed, by many measures, it has still not ended there). America and China were the key players. Korea and Vietnam were the two most important instances of actual fighting to break out in this period, but the broader situation had important influences as well – and still does today.

Feb. 4 Rapprochement and Normalization in the 1970s

This is perhaps the most famous story of the US-China relationship. We’ll cover the blow-by-blow of Kissinger and Nixon’s secret and not so secret visits, but also examine the context of the decision to move toward normalization on both the American and Chinese sides.

Feb.11 Peace and Friendship in the 1980s

How did Ronald Reagan and Deng Xiaoping become best friends? During this decade of otherwise tense and unstable international relations, the US and China managed to cooperate in both economic and security spheres. We’ll talk about why.

Feb. 18 Deepening Economic Ties amid Rising Tensions in the 1990s

Bill Clinton championed free trade, NAFTA and decoupling of economic relations with China from human rights concerns. Jiang Zemin, his counterpart, was similarly committed to economic reform and market opening. Yet, the 1990s saw a rapid and sustained escalation of security competition – over Taiwan, the South China Sea, and in other parts of the world.

Feb. 25 NO CLASS

Mar. 3 The Framework Unravels, 9/11 – 2008

At first, the September 11 attacks seemed to bring China and America together – and at least motivated both to shelve thorny security disputes, while continuing their economic integration. This model began to break down, however, in the run-up to the 2008 economic crisis. In its wake, USChina trade never fully recovered, while new security problems multiplied.

Mar. 10 Back to the Future?
The Age of Trump and Xi/ Conclusion 

In this final session we’ll explore what looks like a dangerous turn back toward Cold War-style tensions and a deteriorating economic relationship. Both Trump and Xi have pressed for different versions of this “decoupling.” We’ll talk about why this has been happening and what its longer-term implications might be, as well as wrap up the class discussions overall.

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Information is subject to change. Full course and policy descriptions are available at

***One ticket per class, per account.

Course Pricing

One nine-week course $190.00

Discounts for Multiple Registrations for an Individual

Individuals who register for multiple courses may receive discounts on each additional course after the first:

To register for two nine-week courses at the special price of $355.00, select the 2-Course Package.

To register for three nine-week courses at the special price of $520.00, select the 3-Course Package.

To register for four nine-week courses at the special price of $685.00, select the 4-Course Package.

Your email confirmation from Norris Box Office verifies your registration but it is not your entry to class. Be sure to bring your class entry card to each class as it must be shown to the proctors at the entry door. In order to guarantee seating for registered students, those without their card will be given a temporary entry card, but ONE time only. After that one time, a replacement card will be provided at a fee of $30.00.

Refund Policy: Before a refund can be issued, your course card must be returned and the cancellation fee must be purchased on this website. Send your entry card to Alumnae Continuing Education, P.O. Box 2789, Glenview, IL 60025.

Applicable Fees and Withdrawal Schedule:
If the withdrawal request is received prior to the first class, the refund of the original registration will be initiated only after the registrant purchases a $10.00 cancellation processing fee.

If the withdrawal request is received after the first class, but before the second class, the refund of the the original registration will be initiated only after the registrant purchases both the $10.00 cancellation processing fee and the $30.00 per diem fee, per course dropped.

If the withdrawal request is received after the second class, but before the third class, the refund of the original registration will be initiated only after the registrant purchases the $10.00 cancellation processing fee and $60.00 in per diem fees, per course dropped.

  • No refunds will be given after the second class.
  • Credits are not given for future classes.
  • A transfer at no cost to another class offered during the same quarter is an option provided there is space available.
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Online ticket sales ended on 1/31/2020 at 11:59 PM (CT)

Event Location
Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive Evanston, IL 60208

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