An overview of all aspects of modern China, from history to politics, economy to society, and literature to international affairs.

The third edition of this concise core textbook offers students a comprehensive introduction to the politics, economy, culture and society of modern China, while grounding all of these areas in the context of China’s recent history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Fully up to date, this accessible text examines the key developments that are taking place in China and that are shaping its place in the world today, from relations with Trump’s United States and post-Brexit Britain, to the use of the internet to crack down on dissent and the establishment of ‘Xi Jinping thought’ at the 19th Party Congress. Authored by a highly-regarded expert on the topic, this is the essential guide to a country that is no longer just emerging but one which has, in many respects, already emerged as one of the leading powers of the twenty-first century.The book is an ideal introductory text for undergraduate and postgraduate courses on China Studies and Contemporary China, regardless of whether students approach the topic from a political, historical, sociological, cultural or geographical viewpoint. It can also be used on modules focussing more specifically on Chinese Politics, Chinese History or Chinese Society.


  • Introduction.
  • 1. What is China?.
  • 2. The Making of Modern China.
  • 3. The Communist Party and Politics.
  • 4. How China is Governed.
  • 5. The Chinese Economy.
  • 6. Chinese Society.
  • 7. Chinese Culture.
  • 8. China in the World.
  • Conclusion.


Kerry Brown provides a wonderful guide to understanding modern China, presenting a remarkably comprehensive and lucid examination of the institutions and socio-economic forces that have shaped and are shaping the country today. Anyone wanting to understand China and its place in the world will do well with Brown as mentor.

Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University, USA

A concise, approachable, critical but fair introduction to the most important topics and questions relating to an important and rising power.

Gregory Adam Scott, University of Manchester, UK

The book introduces all the complexity and contradictions of contemporary China and serves as an excellent introduction. It is up-to-date, comprehensive, concise, and highly readable. Providing an overview of China’s history, politics, economy, society, and culture the book is extremely well suited to those unfamiliar with the country. It also, usefully, serves as a guide for subsequent reading and study of the areas covered.

 Daniel Hammond, University of Edinburgh, UK

Kerry Brown’s account of Contemporary China is an outstanding, wide-ranging introduction to a country that is of crucial importance to the West. Ranging between history, institutional structures, and ideology, Brown shows clearly the elements that make up the China of today. A lucid and powerful read for all those who want to understand the next superpower.

Rana Mitter, University of Oxford, UK

Contemporary China provides a comprehensive and up-to-date account of China that should inform any teaching on China. It offers essential information on how China is governed which is necessary background information to understand how China is embedding and positioning itself in the world economy and global politics. Despite the breadth and depth of the book, it remains an accessible resource.

Hinrich Voss, University of Leeds

An excellent introductory text for any student interested in the rapidly-emerging ‘superpower’ that is today’s China, presented in a simple but effective narrative that highlights the country’s remarkable journey from a post-war pariah to a leading global player in the 21st century.

– Harsh Bhasin, Stony Brook University, USA