For Teachers: Lessons

Parallels in England and the Yangzi Basin of China in the 1800s

Sarah Chrichton, Herbert Lehman High School, Bronx, New York


During the 18th century, both England and the Yangzi River Basin in southeast China experienced economic development that led to increased productivity before the age of industrialization. Despite many parallel achievements—widespread use of contracts, proto-industrial machinery such as waterwheels, government encouragement of competition, and so-forth—only England launched into the industrial age. What are the explanatory factors?


This lesson uses the China and Europe, 1500-2000 and Beyond: What is "Modern"? module on the Asia for Educators Web site to compare and contrast the experiences of China and England. Teachers will need internet access for each pair of students. A SmartBoard or LCD projector is useful for whole-group presentation of some of the interactives.

Guiding Questions

  • How were economic developments in England and the Yangzi Basin of China similar in the 18th century?
  • Why did England industrialize, but the Yangzi Basin did not?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:
  • Describe conditions that are necessary for a modern economy;
  • Compare and contrast economic development in England and Qing China in the Yangzi Basin;
  • Define industrialization;
  • Explain the role of resources and geography in industrialization

Grade Level and Time Required

Grades 9-12; 1-2 class periods