Comparative politics exam the russian federation and the people’s republic of china

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Know the following people and their significance:

  • Hu Jintao

  • Mao Tse-Tung (Zedong)

  • Deng Xiaoping

  • Chaing Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi)

  • Mikhail Kasyanov

  • Nikita Khrushchev

  • Leonid Brezhnev

  • Zhu Rongji

  • Jiang Zemin

  • Tang Jiaxuan

  • Mikhail Gorbachev

  • Boris Yeltsin

  • Vladimir Putin

  • Edouard Shevardnadze

  • Igor Ivanov

  • Vladimir Zhironovsky

  • Zhou Enlai

  • Sun Yat Sen

Russia and china have both responded to ethnic political movements that threaten national integration by deploying troops—Russia in Chechnya, China in Tibet.

Mikhail Gorbachev:

  • Increased autonomy for the republics of the USSR

  • Enhanced the role of the President

  • Reduced the power of the Communist Party

  • Strengthened the legislature

According to the Chinese constitution, the formal power of governing rests with the National People’s Congress, although the real power lies elsewhere.

Since 1991, Russia has had a multiparty system that represents a wide range of ideological viewpoints.
Nomenkatura means the political and economic elites.
Before 1980, China used 5 year plans to emphasize the development of heavy industry.

China has no significant electoral competition. The CCP dominates.

The Communist Youth League (CYL), the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, and the All-china Women’s Federation are significant because they are mass organizations that have served the Communist Party well, since they function as channels of political education and participation
A Command economy is an economy where the government makes all decisions about production and distribution—including decisions on wages, prices, and capital investment.
In Chinese politics, the term “mass line” refers to the principal that correct party leadership depends on constant contact between the party and the public or peasants.
China, like most developing countries, has a low GDP per capita.
Lenin argued that you could “jump-start” a worker revolution by having a professional vanguard help the people recognize class consciousness.
The French and Russian constitutions both divide power between a President and the legislature and set up multiparty systems. Russia, however, is a federation, while France has a unitary government.
Both China and Taiwan have undergone at least some economic liberalization, but only Taiwan has liberalized politically.
In Russian politics, all of the following contribute to the continuing attraction of authoritarian rule:

  • The weakness of democracy

  • The state’s inability to improve living standards for most Russians

  • Continued hostility of some towards the West

  • Nostalgia for Soviet military strength

To strengthen their own political power, Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev both had to weaken the power of the Communist party, which opposed many, if not all, of their policies.

Mao Zedong’s most important contribution to Marxism was the role of the peasantry in the revolution.
China has a mixed economic system, but an authoritarian political system.
While Russia and the Communist world disintegrated, China emphasized economic liberalization, while took pressure off the calls for political liberalization.
1 primary aim of the 1966-1976 Chinese Cultural Revolution was to eliminate all opposition to the ideas of Mao Zedong.
China was more pragmatic that Soviet Russia in dealing with economic issues.
Chinese citizens vote only for representatives to the local People’s Congress. All other officers are indirectly elected.
Since 1980, crisis decision making in China has been heavily influenced by a group of retired senior leaders in the Communist Party.
Russian reformers in the 1990s made rapid transition to a market economy the top priority.
The Russian Constitution of 1993 is different from the Soviet Constitution because it allows the President to disband the Parliament.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is controlled by the CCP.
Vladimir Zhironovsky’s election was indicative of the relative disappointment with the results of reform in Russia and international decline.
The French and Russian Constitutions divide power between the President and the legislature.
Since 1949, the CCP has believed:

  • In the mass line

  • Progressing towards a unified China

  • Historical materialism is the way to understand the evolution of human society

  • The CCP needs to guide society


In China, every government structure has a corresponding CCP unit. This is called “parallel hierarchies.”
China was different from the USSR in that in the USSR ethnic and nationality divisions were more significant in politics.
Policies of Deng Xiaoping meant more economic openness and reform, but not political reform.


  • “Shock therapy” in modern Russian politics is a reference to sudden free market reform accompanied by rapid democratic political reform.

  • Russia does not have a long growing season.

  • Slavophile v. Westernizer was a debate begun under Peter I (Peter the Great), a debate which asks whether Russia should be more European or not?

  • Statism is the tendency of Russian citizens to value the existence of a strong government to protect them.

  • The most important single source of real political power in the Soviet Union was the Politburo.

  • Mensheviks and Bolsheviks were in conflict in Russia during the revolution of 1917.

  • Democratic centralism was influential in shaping the political system of the Soviet Union in its early days.

  • Before 1940, Stalin’s foreign policy was “socialism in one country.”

  • Perestroika= Gorbachev’s economic plan to allow restructuring and some capitalism in the economy.

  • At the time of the 1991 Russian Revolution, the economy was near collapse, with rampant inflation. The economy now is recovering somewhat.

  • Russians are more likely to believe in equality of results rather than equality of opportunity.

  • Russian differences with Chechnya are largely ethnic/religious in nature.

  • All the following have made cultural heterogeneity a special challenge for Russian rulers:

Ethnic minorities have been scattered by invasion and expansion, and borders are difficult to draw

The large variety of cultural groups makes communication with and control by the gov’t nearly impossible

Ethnic minorities in the north and east are quite different from the others

Frequent border changes mean that some groups have sometimes been under Russian control and sometimes not.

  • Today, most Russians live in cities in the western part of the country.

  • Most ethnic Russians today identify as Orthodox, but do not attend church services.

  • Voter turnout in Russia is relatively high but has decreased steadily since 1991.

  • Political parties in Russia today tend to base themselves on the appeal of their particular leader.

  • The Liberal Democratic party is basically neither, and favors ultra-nationalism

  • Between 1999 and 2003, Putin’s party actually lost support in the Duma.

  • Russian oligarch question. Have basic knowledge of what they are.

  • The Russian Constitution of 1993 established a hybrid Presidential-Parliamentary system.

  • The 1993 Constitution gave the Duma the opportunity to veto the President’s choice as Prime Minister.

  • The President of Russia has the power to call elections, call referenda, rule by decree in an emergency, and appoint judges with consent of the Federation Council.

  • According to the Constitution of 1993, the main purpose of the Russian Constitutional Court is to exercise the power of judicial review.

  • Since 1991, the strongest challenge to the Russian military has been in Chechnya.

  • Russian meddling in the 2004 Ukraine elections resulted in further straining relations between Russia and the near-abroad nations.

  • President Putin reacted to the 2004 Beslan school siege by enacting sweeping reforms that centralize power in the President’s hands.

  • One of the most frequently heard criticisms of Putin was that he centralized so much power in the Presidency that democracy is in jeopardy.

  • The Russian tradition of statism most directly opposes the development of civil society in Russia today.


  • Recruitment to positions in the traditional bureaucracy of China was based on scholarship of Confucianism.

  • Confucianism emphasizes the importance of order and defines the duties of rulers and subjects.

  • Under the 19th Century, China’s geography encouraged the country to ignore the rest of the world.

  • Chiang Kai-Shek founded the Nationalist Kuomintang (Guomindang) party.

  • The Revolutionary era of China, 1911-1949, had the goals of nationalism, establishing a new political community, and socioeconomic development

  • From 1949-1957, China followed the lead of the Soviets and implemented land reform, civil reform, and five year plans

  • Then came the Sino-Soviet split.

  • The primary goal of the Cultural Revolution was to purify the party and country through enforced egalitarianism.

  • An important source of legitimacy in Maoist China was the belief in the mass line.

  • The development of the socialist market economy in China is attributed to Deng Xiaoping.

  • An important difference between Russia and China in the process of economic and political development is that China established itself as a major world power much earlier.

  • Since 1989 Tiananmen Square, protests have re-emerged but have been suppressed. Chinese students led the protest and demanded more rapid political reform.

  • The Chinese government’s toleration of NGOs is an indication of the development of civil society.

  • Village elections in China are now semi-competitive, with some choice of candidates.

  • “Old boys networks” in China are known as guanxi.

  • “Fang-shou” is the process by which dominance in Chinese politics seems to shift occasionally but regularly from hard-liners to more moderates, then back again.

  • Guanxi+ the past 20 year economic boom in China has fueled rampant corruption.

  • Liberals are most accepting of modern-day democratic movements.

  • Peasants make up the largest group in the CCP.

  • The main power of the CCP’s National Party Congress is to elect members of the Party’s Central Committee.

  • The Chinese criminal justice system has a high rate of conviction and often uses the death penalty.

  • Deng Xiaoping implemented the household responsibility system to improve agricultural production.

  • Know TVEs and SEZs.

  • Rule of law in modern China is more important than it has ever been.

  • Maoist foreign policy favored helping other countries embrace communism; Deng favored using trade for economic development.

  • “one country, two systems” is the US view of the Chinese/Hong Kong relationship.


  • One similarity between the political systems of Great Britain and Russia is that the lower house of the legislature is the more powerful chamber for lawmaking. Both countries have separate “heads of state” and “heads of government.” Another similarity is that both countries have Prime Ministers that may be removed as result of votes of no confidence in the lower house of the legislature. Elections are NOT similar: In Russia, the President gets a 4 year fixed term, but the PM of Britain can call elections at anytime within a 5 yr period.

  • Consequences of ending the centrally-planned economy in Russia included:

Increased Unemployment

Decentralized production

Increasing the # of private-owned businesses

Increasing corruption

  • A key component of economic liberalization is the elimination of price controls.

  • All the following reforms have occurred in China:

Competitive village elections

Mandatory retirement ages for national leaders

A loosening of restrictions on internal movement in China

Creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

Increase in the number of Township/Village Enterprises (TVEs)

  • Civil societies require the establishment of voluntary associations and both Russia and china even today restrict its development.

  • True “liberal democracy” requires competitive elections, respect for the rule of law, an independent judiciary, elections on a set cycle, civilian control of the military, and protections for civil rights/civil liberties.

  • Chinese management of crises are notable for the important of secrecy within the CCP.

  • China has given some latitude to ethnic minorities in such matters as population control and language. Ethnic conflict has been limited (but not totally eliminated) because the populations are relatively small and geographically isolated.

  • The organizing principle of the CCP is democratic centralism.

  • China’s population has increased in age mostly due to the one-child per family policy.

  • In a command economy, central planners develop quotas on production and methods of distribution.

  • One of the primary functions of Russia’s Constitutional Court is to exercise judicial review.

  • Russia’s President may serve two consecutive 4 year terms, but may also run again after a break.

  • The Federation council in Russia must ratify treaties and approve troop deployments.\

  • The % of people who identify with a party in Britain is higher than the % in Russia who identify.

  • The CCP has largely ignored environmental problems and instead focused on economic growth.

  • The apparently smooth succession of Hu Jintao from Jiang Zemin was unusual because it represents increased predictability and an orderly transition process, following rules on term limits and retirement age.

  • The most likely protestors in China are rural farmers.

  • Lenin differed from Marx in that Lenin believed a highly centralized and trained revolutionary vanguard was needed to lead the masses.

  • A development in the functioning of the National People’s Congress of the PRC is a growing 3 of abstentions and negative votes on proposals.

  • During the 1990s, privatization did not create the kind of market economy many economists expected because majority control of companies was maintained by managers who had run them under the old Soviet regime.

  • Deng’s Economic reforms in China have overturned the Maoist goal of guaranteed employment, but not the emphasis on female employment. The leadership after Deng did not stray significantly from his policies.

The Four Modernizations Campaign in China was a response to the emphasis on political/social goals of Mao’s leadership. The Four Modernizations were the goals of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. They were first introduced by Zhou Enlai in 1975 at the Fourth National People's Congress in one of his last public acts. After his death and Mao’s soon thereafter, Deng Xiaoping assumed control of the party in late 1978. In December 1978 at the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee, Deng Xiaoping announced the official launch of the Four Modernizations, formally marking the beginning of the reform era. The Four Modernizations were designed to make China a great economic power by the early 21st century. These reforms essentially stressed economic self-reliance. The People's Republic of China decided to accelerate the modernization process by stepping up the volume of foreign trade by opening up its markets, especially the purchase of machinery from Japan and the West.

  • The Four Modernizations were in the fields of:

  • Agriculture

  • Industry

  • Technology

  • Defense

  • Gorbachev, when he came to power, had to deal with the challenge that some Eastern European countries were already liberalizing, both politically and economically.

  • Gorbachev’s reforms led to competitive elections within the Communist Party and large-scale foreign investment in the USSR.

  • Minorities living within Chinese borders include: Tibetans, Kazahks, Mongols, and Vietnamese

  • China today has no judicial review.

  • Lenin’s book “What is to be Done” discussed his plans for creating a revolutionary vanguard.

  • Classical, pre-1949 Chinese political culture was based on Confucian scholarship, the Mandate of Heaven, bureaucratic hierarchy, and centralized authoritarian rule.

  • China is similar to other third world countries in that it has widespread poverty, a growing gap between rich and poor, serious environmental problems, and dependence on international trade.

  • As of 2004, the Communist Party’s support in Russia has declined steadily in all elections.

  • Nomenklatura recruitment is used in both Russia and China. This will be a problem for some time yet since people who rose through this process are still in the system.

  • Young, Urban, well-educated Russians tend to have liberal political values.

  • The mass line in China is best described as an example of local government lobbying with national government leaders.

  • Russia’s problem in Chechnya stem from the fact that Chechens are non-Russian, Muslim, and divided even among themselves.

  • Proportional representation encourages a multi-party system, particularly a proliferation of small parties.

  • The CIS is much weaker than the EU.

  • Marxism envisions a time when a government would not be necessary.

  • Parties in one-party and multiparty states are similar because they both share a propensity to be ideological.

  • Since 1979, China has more judges trained in rule of law and new law codes.

  • The Soviet regime was effective at educating its citizens, particularly in literacy.

  • In Russia, both electronic and print media are almost totally controlled by the government.

  • Between 1965-1985, the government apparatus dominated the Communist party.

  • Chinese interest groups represent the interests of the Communist party to affinity groups (industrial workers, peasants, and women)

  • Political participation in China in the past 2 decades has been encouraged by competitive, secret-ballot elections at township and county levels.

  • The 1991 Russian coup was lead by Gorbachev’s opponents on the Politburo.

  • Most objections to free trade with China stem from Human Rights concerns.

  • The Long March solidified Mao’s reputation early in his career.

  • The Chinese economy has been growing over 8% a year—Not like a typical third world country

  • The PLA is linked to the communist Party in that it assigns a political officer to all military units and it has membership on the Party Central Committee and Politburo.

  • Putin fought for legislation that would allow the President to remove governors that violated the federal constitution.

  • The cultural revolution tried to remove all vestiges of the old China.

  • Marx predicted proletarian revolutions would occur in industrialized capitalist countries first.

  • The most powerful seat of power (actually) in China is the Politburo Standing Committee of the national PARTY Congress. Formally the Constitution lies and says it is in the National People’s Congress.


1949–1976, The Mao Era
        Korean War
        Hundred Flowers Campaign
        Anti-Rightist Movement
        Great Leap Forward
            Three Years of Natural Disasters
        Cultural Revolution
            Lin Biao
            Gang of Four
            Tiananmen Incident
    1976–1989, Era of Reconstruction
        Economic reform
        Sino-Vietnamese War
        Tiananmen protests
    1989–2002, A Rising Power
        One Country, Two Systems
            Hong Kong (post 1997)
            Macau (post 1999)
        Chinese reunification
    2002–present, China Today

SHORT ANSWER ESSAYS: Be able to write at least a page on each of these.

  1. Explain Russian Foreign Policy.

  1. Explain Russian Political Culture.

  1. Explain Chinese Foreign Policy.

  1. Explain Chinese Political Culture.

  1. Compare the goals and procedures of the French, Chinese, British, and Russian Presidential election systems. How are they alike and how are they different?

  1. Define globalization and explain three ways it has affected policy in China over last 10 years. (market economic reforms, movement of people)

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