Public Policy on the Other Side

Shanghai Jiao Tong University MPA Program Academic Exchange

On Saturday, May 7, the Ford School’s China Policy cohort visited the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Upon arrival, we were greeted by Peng Bo, the Associate Dean of SIPA, and Cao Youyi, the Party Secretary of the University.


Image: A warm welcome from SJTU upon our arrival.

The Associate Dean and Party Secretary informed us on how the University administrators and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) work in tandem to provide leadership for the school. In essence, Mr. Peng advanced that shared responsibility of the University was not easy, but that it worked well. The CCP and academics collaborate through an institutional arrangement supported by the “covering all” ideal of the CCP. That is, the Party is everywhere; it has representation in all forms of civil society organization from labor unions and NGOs to Corporations and academic institutions. Additionally, CCP members and administrators acknowledge that proper division of labor is key to the efficacy of their working relationship and goals.


Image: Academic Exchange Panel including our very own Professor Lin and Professor Ciorciari.

In essence, I came away with the impression that although there are shared responsibilities between academics and party members, the CCP ultimately holds the final say in all administrative matters. However, the CCP does consider the opinions and voices of school faculty in making that final decision. For example, the CCP Standing Committee of the University would almost certainly not hire a faculty candidate who might receive 30% of faculty approval. On the other hand, a 90% approval rating might be favorable for the candidate in the eyes of the standing committee, but it is certainly not a guarantee for the position.

After the engagement, our cohort proceeded to take part of a SIPA MPA class on Chinese Global Governance that was led by our very own Professor Ciorciari. After Professor Ciorciari lectured on the question of Chinese global responsibility, particularly the Chinese contributions to peacekeeping operations, we gathered in mixed small groups to discuss. Our Chinese counterparts seemed to be divided on what it meant for China to take on greater international responsibilities. While many thought China’s global rise necessitated that China take on a greater role on the international stage, one student from my group advanced the importance of the “peaceful rise” concept to Chinese foreign relations. To him, China can only take on greater international responsibility as long as it remains committed to refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of other nations.


Image: Professor Ciorciari gives an engaging lecture to SJTU and U of M students.

Although it would have been nice to have a little more time with the students, I learned a great deal from the experience. I was impressed that the SIPA students could engage in a complex lecture delivered in English. I was also encouraged by their optimism about future academic exchange and cooperation between the United States and China. A student named David summarized the feelings of his class succinctly: China’s rise is not meant to supplant the United States as the leading global power, but the new world order will be one characterized by the cooperation of several strong states.

-Nate Samuelson


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