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Untangling “Chinese characteristics”: an examination of “the China Discipline Evaluation with Chinese characteristics” and what it implies

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Zhou, Yiran 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pThe terminology of “Chinese characteristics” (zhongguo tese) is ubiquitous in China’s political language, but its precise definition remains elusive. This study focuses specifically on the mobilising of the idea of Chinese characteristics of China’s science evaluation programme: the China Discipline Evaluation (CDE). Implemented as an instrument of the higher education reform since 1978, it still plays a vital role in China today. This paper is structured into three parts. It begins by laying out the broad landscape of the science evaluation systems across several countries including China, to distil the distinctiveness of the CDE. Then, it moves to focus on the CDE and locates it in its historical and social-political context. Finally, it investigates the origin and use of Chinese characteristics, suggesting that this terminology functions as a rhetoric modality which describes, labels, and legitimates seemingly self-contradictory phenomena exclusive to China. It also emphasises the idea of Chinese exceptionalism that is touted as irreducible to other cultural forms. Based on these considerations, it proposes three dimensions of the Chinese characteristics of the CDE: (i) the paradoxical status of the evaluation agency, (ii) the co-existence of contradictory values embedded in the objectives and criteria of the evaluation, and (iii) the promotion of the visibility of the idea of China at the international stage. Overall, it shows that while the CDE may appear to be a decentralisation instrument, it is in essence a “hegemonic project” and “hegemonic apparatus” to fulfil the party-state’s ambition in securing domestic stability and pursuing international competitiveness.</jats:p>



3903 Education Systems, 3904 Specialist Studies In Education, 39 Education

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Higher Education

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC