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Opening China: An Age of Humiliation

Keonwoo Oh Individual Website Senior Division

I was selecting my topic, I wanted to choose something that was local, very broad and at the same time relevant to this years NHD theme, Turning Points in History. For this reason, the topic I initially selected was British and French Imperialism in the Southeast Asia. The topic was local as Southeast Asia was in vicinity of South Korea. However, the topic was too broad and I simply could not find a way to narrow it down. So I shifted the topic slightly, to Western Intrusion in China. The topic was much more specific and at the same time, local. Moreover, the Western Intrusion transformed China dramatically from the late 19th century to 20th century. Its legacy still remains today as the Peoples Republic of China has emerged as a dominant world power that rivals the USA. When I started the research, the very first thing I did was to read an overview of the series of events in AP World History textbook. The reading not only provided basic information about the events, but also provided information about the historical events of China that occurred for last 2000years. By then, I started my research. In order to find good quality of secondary sources, I utilized Questia and my school library where I could find high quality books and articles that provided in-depth information about the context, events, and the impact of the military conflicts in China. Then I searched for primary historical evidences. As for the Chinese primary sources, I mainly utilized Internet Modern History Source Book, compiled by Fordham University and the resources of USC US-China institution. Wikimedia Commons, Library of Congress, Visualising China and Historical Photographs of China were major sources of the photos, paintings, and cartoons. I decided that a website was a suitable medium to convey my historical research with various materials. The website was especially advantageous when directly presenting variety of primary source and secondary source documents for historical evidences. This would not only aid the construction of coherent argument, but also enhance the readers understanding and engagement. For one, I could provide long passage of the original international treaties, personal accounts, and news paper articles without restrictions. Visuals including photos were further utilized for the historical evidences. The incorporation of various materials would have hopefully aided my website. The Western intrusions in China is indeed the turning point of the Chinese history which has lasting legacy even to the present date. The emergence and expansion of Western influence in China humiliated and utterly destro yed long-lasted Chinese Confucianism and culturalism, at the same time, spreading Western ideas. As a result, a new class of intellectuals were created amidst the expansion of journalism and publications. The profound foundation of the Chinese civilization collapsed at once and this transformation in traditional ideas was at core of the modernization of China. The complete chaos that ensued completely devastated China, but gradually, China would once again revive as one unified nation with a completely reconstructed system.