1900 to 1950: A Half-Century of Crisis and Advancement
Qing 1644 to 1912
Republic of China 1912 to present     People's Republic of China 1949
Meiji Restoration 1868 to 1912
Taisho Period 1912 to 1926
Showa Period 1926 to 1989
Choson 1392 to 1910
Japanese Rule 1910 to 1945     U.S.-Soviet Occupation
French rule in "Indochina" (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) 1862 to mid-20th century
British rule 19th century to 1947     Independence and Partition 1947

CHINA 1900-1950

Living in the Chinese Cosmos >> Religion in China: 20th Century: Communism and Internal Challanges to Tradition [Asia for Educators]
Although the focus of this teaching module is late-imperial China, this section on China in the 20th century is useful for putting the units below in context.

The May Fourth Movement (ca. 1916-1920s)

Primary SourcesBefore and After the May Fourth Movement [Asia for Educators]
The so-called "May Fourth" or "new culture" movement began in China around 1916, following the failure of the 1911 Revolution to establish a republican government, and continued through the 1920s. This unit includes a background reading and three primary-source readings [Chen Duxiu's "Our Final Awakening" (1916) [PDF]; Chiang Kai-shek's "Essentials of a New Life Movement" (Speech, 1934) [PDF]; Mao Zedong's "Reform Our Study" (1941)], plus discussion questions and suggested activities for students.

The Treaty of Versailles [PDF] [University of Texas, Hemispheres Consortium]
Since the actual protests of May 4, 1919 broke out in China following and protesting the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, teachers may want to explore this curriculum unit from the Hemispheres, the International Outreach Consortium at the U of Texas, Austin, reviews the end of World War I and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles. It includes an overview of the treaty and its provisions (above PDF link) as well as an analysis exercise using photographs and political cartoons [PDF].

Chen Duxiu, 1879-1942
Primary Source w/DBQs
"The True Meaning of Life" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
Primary Source w/DBQs"Our Final Awakening" (1916) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Chiang Kai-shek, 1887-1975
Primary Source w/DBQs
"Essentials of a New Life Movement" (Speech, 1934) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
Primary Source w/DBQs"China Cannot Be Conquered" (Speech, 1939) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Hu Shi, 1891-1962
Primary Source w/DBQs
"Our Attitude Toward Modern Western Civilization" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Liang Shuming, 1893-1988
Primary Source w/DBQs
"Chinese Civilization vis-a-vis Eastern and Western Philosophies" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Peacemaking, 1919: The Peace Conference at Versailles [Reacting Consortium]
Set in Paris, 1919, Peacemaking places students in the complicated and politically fraught peace conference that will bring an end to the Great War. Students represent nations as they seek to bring about peace not only for the present, but also the future. Students will grapple with complex ideas about: peace, the League of Nations, and tensions about international cooperation and national sovereignty; just war, self-aggrandizing war, and acceptable conduct of war; national self-interest versus the greater good; collective security or the balance of power; self-determination, nationalism, democracy and imperialism; moral responsibility versus legal culpability in war; disarmament; the rights and treatment of minority populations; the rising fears about Bolshevism.


Introduction to China's Modern History [Asia for Educators]
An introduction to modern Chinese history for teachers and students. Includes a brief introductory reading highlighting four major themes for teaching about modern Chinese history; a longer reading, "China in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries," providing an overview of the many significant changes in Chinese society, polity, and economy; and an annotated timeline of modern Chinese history from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to China's civil war (1946-49).

Rebuilding China

Liang Qichao, 1873-1929
Primary Source w/DBQs
"Renewing the People" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Sun Yat-sen, 1866-1925
Primary Source w/DBQs
Selections from A Program of National Reconstruction: "The Three Stages of Revolution" (1918) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
Primary Source w/DBQs"The Principle of Democracy" (1924) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Chiang Kai-shek, 1887-1975
Primary Source w/DBQs
"Essentials of the New Life Movement" (Speech, 1934) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) and the Chinese Revolution

Asian Revolutions in the Twentieth Century [ExEAS, Columbia University]
This website provides lecture material, teaching strategies, bibliographies, timelines, and links to other online resources for teaching about revolution and revolutionary leaders in high school, college, and university classes. See section on Mao Zedong.

Mao Zedong: Biographical and Political Profile [Asia for Educators]

Primary SourceThe Long March (1934-1936) [Asia for Educators]

Primary SourceCommonly Read Speeches and Writings of Mao Zedong (1927-1945) [Asia for Educators]
With excerpts from three speeches and one article, all highlighting two important themes in Mao Zedong's thinking: voluntarism and selflessness. Includes excerpts from "In Memory of Norman Bethune" (1939); "Serve the People" (1944); "The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains" (1945); and Report on the Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan (1927).

Primary SourceMao Zedong on War and Revolution [Asia for Educators]

Primary Source w/DBQsFrom "The Dictatorship of the People's Democracy": On Leaning to One Side (Speech, 1949) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Mao Zedong's writings can also be found in the Government and Administration: Communism, Military and Defense: War and Revolution, and Society: Farmers and the Revolution sections, below, .

Communism in China

Mao Zedong, 1893-1976
Primary Source w/DBQs
Quotations from Chairman Mao on Being a Communist in China (1937-1938) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Also see Mao Zedong's 1941 speech "Reform Our Study," which is part of the unit Before and After the Fourth Movement in the section Religion, Philosophy, Thought: The May Fourth Movement, above.

Liu Shaoqi, 1898-1969
Primary Source w/DBQs
How to Be a Good Communist (1939) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]


Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)

A Journey Shared: The United States and China, 200 Years of History [U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian]
A module containing interesting historical documents and pictures regarding the early relations between the U.S. and China, up through the Nixon era.

The Rape of Nanking
Note to Teachers
Nanking/Nanjing, was the capital of the Republic of China in 1937 when Japanese military forces invaded the city.

The Invasion of Nanking [Stanford History Education Group]
The atrocities Japanese soldiers committed in China during the 1930s are well documented. Various Japanese textbooks, however, have downplayed or overlooked the scale and scope of these events. In this lesson, students examine how two textbooks – one Japanese and the other Chinese – depict what happened during the Japanese occupation of Nanking. Students then corroborate each textbook with an excerpt from historian Jonathan Spence's The Search for Modern China.

Exploring Crimes of War through the Nanjing Atrocities [PDF] [Facing History and Ourselves]
This unit includes both the above PDF of the entire curriculum and an on-line multimedia collection of maps, videos, timelines, and teaching strategies that place the Nanjing Atrocities within the larger context of World War II in East Asia, and will challenge students to consider the complex questions this history raises about wartime violence, justice, and memory.

Harbor from the Holocaust [PDF] [PBS]
The story of of nearly 20,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe during WW II to the Chinese port city of Shanghai. Includes a discussion guide.

Tale of Two Diplomats: Ho Fengshan, Sugihara Chiune, and Jewish Efforts to Flee Nazi Europe [Education About Asia]
Many Jews avoided dying in the Holocaust because of Ho Fengshan and Sugihara Chiune. Download PDF on page.

Chiang Kai-shek, 1887-1975
Primary Source w/DBQs
"China Cannot Be Conquered" (Speech, 1939) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
Primary Source w/DBQsGeneralissimo Chiang Assails Prince Konoe's Statement [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
Primary Source w/DBQsJapanese Ambassador Hiroshi Saito on the Conflict in the Far East [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Mao Zedong (1893-1976) on War and Revolution

Primary SourceMao Zedong on War and Revolution [Asia for Educators]
Primary Source w/DBQsReport on the Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan (March 1927) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
Primary Source w/DBQsSelections from On Guerilla Warfare (1927) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]


Women during the Republican Era (1911-1949)

Ling Long Woman's Magazine (Shanghai, 1931 to 1937) [Columbia University Libraries]
A digital archive of Ling Long Women's Magazine, "originally published in Shanghai from 1931 to 1937 and of significant scholarly research value in several disciplines." With extensive background information about the magazine and the social and cultural context in which it was produced.

Raising Children

Zhu Ziqing, 1898-1948
Primary Source w/DBQs
"My Children" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Farmers and the Chinese Revolution

Primary SourcesFarmers and the Chinese Revolution [Asia for Educators]
This unit looks at the plight of China's farmers in the twentieth century. With a background reading and two primary-source readings ["Spring Silkworms," by Mao Dun [PDF]; Mao Zedong's "Report on the Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan" [PDF]].

A Guide to Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth [Asia for Educators]
This unit introduces the novel The Good Earth (1931) by Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), widely used and valued for its portrayal of Chinese society and, in particular, the Chinese family. The unit includes an introductory reading for teachers (providing background on the author), followed by a student reading summarizing the novel. Discussion questions are included.

What's So Bad about The Good Earth? [Education About Asia, Association for Asian Studies]
Article by independent scholar Charles W. Hayford from the Winter 1998 issue of Education About Asia magazine. Excerpts: "…the book is still widely read, especially at the secondary level, and I would not discourage teachers who find the book a good read. As long as we remind students that not all Chinese are rural, that the Chinese family system is not evil simply because it differs from our modern American model, and that China has tremendously changed since the 1930s, reading The Good Earth conveys much more good than harm. We take our starting points where we can find them; the dangers in the book are 'teaching opportunities' rather than excuses to avoid discussion. Students can be challenged to compare the China which Buck invented with the Chinas invented by others … More substantively, I think I can show how Buck illustrates the long-term cross-cultural moral debate over the nature of modernity, introduces students to issues in American foreign relations (rather than simply diplomatic relations), and shows how unarticulated views of history shape the ways we see the world…As a starting point, The Good Earth still works." Download PDF on page.

Note to Teachers • The journal Education about Asia has many excellent teaching resources on-line on all topics related to East, South and SE Asia.


20th-century Literature

Introduction to Chinese Literature [Asia for Educators]
This reading offers an overview of Chinese literature, identifying its forms and contextualizing its role within Chinese history and culture. A selection of historical periods and literary forms is discussed: the scholar-official and Chinese poetry, the short story as social commentary in the early 20th century, and literature as propaganda in revolutionary China. Discussion questions are included.

Hu Shi, 1891-1962
Primary Source w/DBQs
"A Preliminary Discussion of Literary Reform" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Lu Xun: China's Greatest Modern Writer [Asia for Educators]
This reading about the writer Lu Xun highlights his criticism of traditional Chinese society. Recommended readings include the preface to "Call to Arms," in which he recounts his disgust with Chinese herbal medicinal practices and his realization that China needed "spiritual medicine" more than treatment for physical ailments. Discussion questions are included.

Lu Xun (Zhou Shuren), 1881-1936
Primary Source w/DBQs
"My Old Home" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]

Shaoxing Wine Stories [PDF] [Stony Brook University] To provide context to some of the stories written by Lu Xun, whose native town was Shaoxing, this link presents three stories that are a series of first-hand accounts about winemaking techniques, wine-related traditions, and wine consumption in1930s Shaoxing (now a city in Zhejiang Province in eastern China). Wine has been cultivated in the Shaoxing region since ancient times, and has long been a source of both national fame and local pride. The narrator is a centenarian named Liu Yuanzi, who currently is living in the United States, but grew up in China. Yuanzi came from a family of moderately wealthy and influential literati originally from Shaoxing. Her father, Liu Dabai, was a distinguished poet, literary critic and historian, as well as one of the pioneers of the early 20th century New Culture Movement, which drastically changed the cultural and political landscape of China by rejecting traditional Confucian values and promoting Western concepts such as science and democracy.

Mao Dun (Shen Yanbing), 1896-1981
Primary Source w/DBQs
"Spring Silkworms" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]


Graphic Arts

Graphic Arts (of 20th-Century China) [A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, University of Washington]
A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, prepared by University of Washington history professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey, is an excellent resource, with images, questions for discussion, timelines, maps, and suggested readings throughout. This particular unit discusses China's visual culture, which "changed dramatically in the twentieth century with the great growth in advertising, posters, and other mass-produced means of using images to attract the attention of the populace."

Find more art-related resources for China, 20th Century
at OMuRAA (Online Museum Resources on Asian Art)

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