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Essay questions

Essay Questions Some questions involve history that is not mentioned in the lectures or discussed in the seminar, but are pertinent to modern Chinese history. This should not prevent you from exploring the history further, should you wish.
  • You can answer any of the questions attached to each week's readings and seminar.
  • Within the period we have studied, write a question you want to answer; you can discuss your question with tutor to improve it.
  • Or choose a question from the below. You can modify the question as you see fit; if you need, you can discussion the modified question with tutor.
  • How did the burning down and looting of the Summer Palace affect the development of Chinese identities?
  • Find a treaty signed between China and a Western power in the nineteenth century and analyse why the treaty was signed in the way it was, i.e., who gains what in the treaty and why? You can also compare two or more treaties if you wish.
  • Was the failure of the first Chinese Republic (the 1911 Revolution) inevitable? Please give detailed analysis.
  • Did the 1911 Revolution transform the Chinese political system?
  • What were the social-political conditions that enable the Tapings to start their revolution?
  • What were the economic conditions that enable the Tapings to start their revolution?
  • Why were women raped by soldiers when Japanese troops took Nanjing in December 1937?
  • How did the Second Sino-Japanese war change the course of modern Chinese history?
  • What is the "Century of Humiliation"? And why has modern Chinese history been narrated in this way? Please include in your answer: Could there be other ways of narrating this history and what might they be?
  • This is a documentary question. Please comment on the following in the context of the First Opium War: 'We find your country is sixty or seventy thousand li from China. Yet, there are barbarian ships that strive to come here for trade for the purpose of making a great profit. The wealth of China is used to profit the barbarians. That is to say, the great profit made by barbarians is all taken from the rightful share of China. By what right do they then in return use the poisonous drug to injure the Chinese people? Even though the barbarians may not necessarily intend to do us harm, yet in coveting profit to an extreme, they have no regard for injuring others. Let us ask, where is your conscience?' ("Lin Zexu's Communication to Queen Victoria"). What did this 'moral' question mean to Lin? How did the opium trade lead to the First Opium War? (You may wish to read the full letter and analyses from there).
  • Is "war trauma" a significant historical force in the history of modern China?
  • Is the period between 1911 and 1937 best understood in terms of the Nationalist or the Communist Revolution?
  • What was 'cultural' about the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)?
  • "The New Qing History" transformed the historiography of modern China." Discuss.
  • What was the global context of Chinese communist revolution?
  • How important was the Canton one port system in shaping Sino-Western interaction?
  • How has communism shaped modern Chinese history?
  • How central a role did the concept of 'modernisation' play in the history of modern China?
  • Is the characterisation of Mao Zedong as a 'red emperor' an appropriate way of understanding the history of modern China?