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The Fall and Rise of China


his course traces Chinas tumultuous 200-year journey from collapsing

19th-century empire to aspiring 21st-century superpower. The journey
begins with the decline and fall of the Manchu dynasty under the
dual stresses of increasing foreign penetration and rising domestic disorder
and culminates in Chinas rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of radical,
revolutionary Maoism to become a globalized, marketized economicand
potential militarypowerhouse.
The Demise of the Ancien Rgime and the Struggle for Revolutionary
Renewal (17931945)
The foundational lectures introduce the last days of imperial splendor
in 19th-century China and the rising military and mercantile power of an
awakening Europe. Two midcentury Opium Wars cripple the Manchu
dynasty, rendering it an easy mark for Western penetration and predation.
By the end of the century, a series of unequal treaties has reduced the
once-proud Middle Kingdom to a hollow shell of its former splendor.
China is now bankrupt and adrift, at the mercy of foreign interests.
A conservative Chinese Self-Strengthening movement, launched in the 1860s,
aims at studyingand emulatingthe secrets of Western technological
and military prowess; but reactionary Manchu oligarchs, fearful of losing
their traditional status, succeed in blocking progressive reform of Chinas
Confucian-dominated educational, cultural, economic, and political
institutions. By the end of the century, frustrated reformers begin turning to
revolutionary means to effect necessary societal changes.
The moribund Manchu dynasty crumbles in 1912, and for next 37 years, China
is wracked by revolution, foreign invasion, and civil war. Externally, a rising
imperial Japan is exerting great military pressure on China, while internally,
two revolutionary movements fight for political domination: the Guomindang
(GMD; a.k.a. Nationalist Party) under Sun Yat-sen and his successor, Chiang
Kai-shek; and the Communists, who rally under the leadership of Mao Zedong.