case western reserve university



Public Affairs Discussion Group

"Seeds of Democracy in China? Developments in Local Government"

February 17, 2006
Toepfer Room, Adelbert Hall

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Forest Tan, Ph.D.

Professor of Political Science at Cleveland State University


Dear Colleagues:

What on earth is going on in China? And where is China going?

The most obvious puzzle about China’s future involves the tension between rapid economic change and relative political stability. Many people (not just in the Bush Administration) believe capitalist development should lead to democratization.

Yet, from the outside and the top, the Chinese political system looks relatively frozen in place.

The proceeds of growth can be used to buy off opposition to the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Yet growth can also create huge regional disparities, dislocations as people move from the countryside to cities, conflict about distribution and opportunities for corruption. China’s famed rural health system collapsed during the 1980s as the State lost many of its revenue sources. The Party that Mao built from a peasant base may get rich in the cities, but can it maintain control if the countryside is aggrieved? How can the tensions of development be managed?

Forest Tan has been studying change in China at many levels. For the public affairs discussion on Friday, February 17, he will discuss change at the most local of levels, in the villages. Elections for village offices are one new development. How significant are these elections, and what do they tell us about China’s possible future?

Professor Tan received his B.A. from Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, M.A. from Beijing Institute of International Relations, and Ph.D. in Political Science from Emory University. He directs CSU’s Summer Study Abroad program in China, and has written extensively on a wide range of China topics, from economic growth, to financial institutions, to local government.

As usual, the Friday Lunch is brown-bag, with beverages and cookies provided.


Joseph White, Ph.D.
Luxenberg Family Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science
Director, Center for Policy Studies
Case Western Reserve University
Mather House 111
11201 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland OH 44106-7109
(216) 368-2426

More About Our Guest

Professor Tan's research interests include comparative politics with an emphasis on East Asian and Chinese Politics, international relations emphasizing the political economy of East Asian development, foreign policy and Sino-U.S. relations.

Professor Tan is also the Director of the CSU-in-China Summer Program. The Study Abroad program takes students to experience political and economic development by living and studying on the Chinese campus.

Spring Semester Schedule

January 27: Iraq and Vietnam: Some Questions. Joe White will try to provoke discussion in response to Professor George Herring’s talk on January 24, and in anticipation of the programs on January 30, February 1, and February 2.

February 3: Medical Markets and Health Savings Accounts. J.B. Silvers,
Treuhaft Professor of Health Systems Management, will discuss the new thing that could have a big effect on health insurance – and it’s not the Medicare drug plans.

February 10: The Law and “Animal Rights.” Katherine M. Hessler
, Professor of Law.

February 17: Seeds of Democracy in China? Developments in Local Government. Forrest Qingshan Tan
, Professor of Political Science, Cleveland State University.

February 24: Discussion of the History of Case Western Reserve University. Dick Baznik
, Director of Case’s Institute for the Study of the University in Society. In the Guilford Lounge.

March 3: Turkey: Informal Observations on Education, Society, Politics, and the Price of Yakut. John Grabowski, Krieger-Mueller
Associate Professor of Applied History and Director of Research, Western Reserve Historical Society.

March 10: Bird Flu. Thomas M. Daniel
, Professor Emeritus of Medicine.

March 17: Break Week

March 24: Robots and Emotions. Wyatt Newman
, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

March 31: Sticks, Stones, and Domain Names: The Policy Stakes in Who Controls Internet Addresses. Jacqueline Lipton
, Associate Professor of Law and Associate Director, Frederick K. Cox International Law Center.

April 7: The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Disposal Controversy. Joe H. Payer
, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Director, Department of Energy Corrosion and Materials Performance Cooperative.

April 14: How Environmental Regulations Fragment Gasoline Markets. Andy Morriss
, Galen J. Roush Professor of Business Law and Regulation.

April 21: Downsizing and Disability. Mark Votruba
, Assistant Professor of Economics.

April 28: Lawn-O-Rama: Coming to Terms With an American Obsession. Ted Steinberg
, Professor of History and Law.

Parking: For those people who seek to make special arrangements about parking, the contact person now will be Fay Alexander.  Her phone number is 368-4440, and her e-mail is

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