Joseph Fewsmith

Center Associate; Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Boston University


Joseph Fewsmith (傅士卓) is Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University. He is the author or editor of eight books, including, most recently, The Logic and Limits of Political Reform in China (January 2013). Other works include China since Tiananmen (2nd edition, 2008) and China Today, China Tomorrow (2010). Other books include Elite Politics in Contemporary China (2001), The Dilemmas of Reform in China: Political Conflict and Economic Debate (1994), and Party, State, and Local Elites in Republican China: Merchant Organizations and Politics in Shanghai, 1890-1930 (1985). He is one of the seven regular contributors to the China Leadership Monitor, a quarterly web publication analyzing current developments in China.

Fewsmith travels to China regularly and is active in the Association for Asian Studies and the American Political Science Association. His articles have appeared in such journals as Asian Survey, Comparative Studies in Society and History, The China Journal, The China Quarterly, Current History, The Journal of Contemporary China, Problems of Communism, and Modern China. He is an associate of Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer Range Future at Boston University.

Research interests: comparative politics, Chinese domestic and international politics.

Selected Publications


  • The Logic and Limits of Political Reform in China (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • China Today, China Tomorrow: Domestic Politics, Economy, and Society, ed. (Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield, 2010)
  • China Since Tiananmen: From Deng Xiaoping to Hu Jintao, Second Edition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
  • China’s Opening Society: The Non-State Sector and Governance, co-edited with Zheng Yongnian (London: Routledge, 2008).
  • China Since Tiananmen: The Politics of Transition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
  • Elite Politics in Contemporary China (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2001).
  • The Dilemmas of Reform in China: Political Conflict and Economic Debate (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994).
  • Party, State, and Local Elites in Republican China: Merchant Organizations and Fewsmith Politics in Shanghai, 1890-1930 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1985).
  • Rethinking Chinese Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021).
  • Forging Leninism in China: Mao and the Remaking of the Chinese Communist Party, 1927-1934 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • Fewsmith, Joseph. “China’s Uncertain Future Under an All-Powerful Xi Jinping: An Interview with Prof. Joseph Fewsmith.” Harvard International Review 40, no. 1 (2019): 42–44. 
  • Fewsmith, Joseph. “The Challenges of Stability and Legitimacy.” In China in the Era of Xi Jinping: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges, edited by Robert S. Ross and Jo Inge Bekkevold, 92–114. Georgetown University Press, 2016. 
  • “Local Governance in China: Incentives & Tensions” (With Xiang GAO). Daedalus, Spring 2014), pp. 170-181.
  • “The 18th Party Congress: What’s at Stake?” Current History, vol. 111, No. 746 (September 2012): 203-208.
  • “Mao’s Shadow.” China Leadership Monitor, No. 43 (Winter 2013).
  • “Debating Constitutional Government.” China Leadership Monitor, No. 42 (Fall 2013).
  • “Xi Jinping’s Fast Start.” China Leadership Monitor, No. 41 (Spring 2013).
  • “The 18th Party Congress: Testing the Limits of Institutionalization.” China Leadership Monitor,No. 40 (Winter 2013).
  • “De Tocqueville in Beijing.” China Leadership Monitor, No. 39 (Fall, 2012).
  • “Bo Xilai and Reform: What Will Be the Impact of His Removal?” China Leadership Monitor, No. 38 (Summer 2012).
  • “Guangdong Leads Calls to Breakup “Vested Interests” and Revive Reform,” China Leadership Monitor, No. 37 (Spring 2012).
  • “‘Social Management’ as a Way of Coping with Heightened Social Tensions.” China Leadership Monitor, No. 36 (Winter 2012).
  • Fewsmith “Governance in Comparative and Theoretical Perspective.” In Sujian Guo, StateSocietyRelations and Governance in China (Lanham, Boulder, New York, and London: Lexington Books, 2014), pp. 117-126.


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