History 3300

Modern China

Mon-Wed-Fri, 10:10, Hardin 233

Fall term, 2023

Prof. Edwin E. Moise
Office: Hardin 102
Cell: (864) 650-8845

Messages can be left in my mailbox in Hardin 124, or in the box on my office door.

Office Hours: I will try to be in my office, Hardin 102, at the following hours. It is possible that I may occasionally miss office hours, but on the other hand, I will be in my office, and available to you, at a lot of other times. E-mail me, or just check and see if my door is open.

    Monday                  2:30-3:20
    Tuesday    11:00-12:00, 2:00-3:15
    Wednesday  11:15-12:00, 2:30-3:20
    Thursday   (none officially scheduled but I will often be available)
    Friday     (none officially scheduled but I will often be available) 

Learning Environment

If something unfortunate happens I might have to change my plans, but I plan to teach this as a traditional history class. Lectures, the quiz, and tests will take place in the classroom. Most discussion will be in the classroom, though some will take place through Canvas. You will turn in written assignments (other than the quiz and tests) through Canvas.

Course Objectives

To give students an overview of the transformations that China has undergone from the Qing Dynasty (the last imperial dynasty) up to the present day.

Learning Objectives

What goes into your grade

I am not going to waste your time memorizing a lot of names and dates. If you find Chinese names very confusing, don't despair; you really don't need to know a lot of them. We are concerned with what happened to China in the past century or so, not with the exact names of the people who did things or the exact dates of the events. But I do expect you to get a sense of chronological order, which things happened first and which happened later.

The written work will be:
    --Four short papers, on assigned topics, worth 40 points each, three of which will be newspaper research exercises.
    --The midterm test (70 points) and the final exam (120 points), which will be mostly essay questions.
    --One minor essay quiz, which will be announced in advance. 20 points.

There will be 20 points possible for class participation, either in class or through the Discussion section on Canvas. If you are the sort of person who feels comfortable speaking up in class, do so. If you don't feel comfortable with that, post in the discussion section on Canvas so you won't lose out on this. If you catch me in a mistake and persuade me that it was in fact a mistake, you get two points in the gradebook, over and above the regular points for discussion. If you present a good clear argument that I am wrong about something, with evidence, then your grade may be boosted even if you do not succeed in convincing me.

This adds up to 390 points for the course. The basic grade scale is that 90% (351 points) is the bottom of the A range, 80% (312 points) is the bottom of the B range, and so on. Sometimes I alter the scale in the students' favor, but never against them. In other words, 351 points (90% of 390) is guaranteed to be an A, 312 points is guaranteed to be a B, 273 points is guaranteed to be a C. But 350 or 349 points will probably become an A, and 348 or even 345 points might become an A, depending on how the class as a whole is doing.

DO NOT TRUST WHAT CANVAS SAYS ABOUT YOUR AVERAGE GRADE. If Canvas says you got 36 points on a particular paper, that should be reliable. But if Canvas says your average for the semester so far is 90.32%, that might be wrong by a significant margin.

Academic Integrity Policy

All work submitted in this course must be your own, completed in accordance with the University’s academic regulations. You may not engage in unauthorized collaboration or make use of ChatGPT or other AI composition software. AI-generated submissions will be therefore treated as plagiarism, handled in accordance with existing university policy.

All infractions of academic dishonesty by undergraduates must be reported to Undergraduate Studies for resolution through that office. In cases of plagiarism instructors may use the Plagiarism Resolution Form.

See the Undergraduate Academic Integrity Policy website for additional information and the current catalogue for the policy.

As far as I can recall, I have not caught any students committing plagiarism in this course, in past years. But experience with plagiarism in other courses at Clemson suggests that if there were to be a plagiarism case in this course, it would probably take the form of one student copying another student's 40-point short paper, maybe changing a few words and substituting synonyms, but leaving the two papers still so similar that it is obvious the resemblance could not be coincidence. I would be likely to bring charges both against the student who copied and the student who allowed his or her paper to be copied.

Less likely would be one student looking sideways during a test, and copying answers from the student in the adjoining seat.

There are some ways in which it is perfectly all right for student to help each other. If two students want to study together getting ready for a test, great. Only if help were still being given after I had handed out the questions would the help become improper. But if two people work together on a newspaper research exercise, and turn in papers that are very similar because each has been getting a lot of help from the other in writing it, both will be in deep trouble. If one of your fellow students asks to look at your paper, to get a better idea of how the assignment was to be done, please say no. They should come to me to ask for further explanations of the assignment, rather than looking at a completed paper to give them their clues. If too papers are so similar it is obvious the author of one must have seen the other, I will file charges.

Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran's status, genetic information or protected activity in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at Ms. Alesia Smith is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator, and the Executive Director of Equity Compliance. Her office is located at 110 Holtzendorff Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.656.0899 (TDD).

Accessibility Statement

Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the professor know, and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged – drop-ins will be seen if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who receive Academic Access Letters are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and present these to their professors as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student's responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here:

Attendance policy

You are allowed up to six cuts INCLUDING EXCUSED ABSENCES. You lose two points for every unexcused absense after that. I would advise you not to take even five. I am going to be saying quite a few things in lectures that are not in the reading. Even if you are very careful about doing all the assigned reading, you will have trouble answering the questions on my tests if you have not been at the lectures.

Any quiz or test that was scheduled for a class that was cancelled due to inclement weather will be given at the next class meeting unless students are told otherwise by the instructor. Any assignment that was due on a day when class was cancelled because of weather will be due on the next day the class meets, unless students are told otherwise by the instructor. Any extension or postponement of a quiz, test, or assignment must be granted by the instructor via email or Blackboard within 24 hours of the weather related cancellation.

If I am Late

If I have not gotten to class by five minutes after it was supposed to begin, I would be grateful if a student would go bang on my office door and see whether I am there. If I still have not arrived by ten minutes after the time the class was supposed to begin, you can give up on me and leave.

Assigned reading

There are four books you should buy:
    Modern China, third edition, by Moise.
    The Death of Woman Wang, by Spence.
    Throwing the Emperor from his Horse, by Seybolt
    Almost a Revolution, by Shen Tong

There may also be reading students do online.

Course Outline

The following course outline is tentative. It may be modified slightly by class request, or as a result of unexpected events.

August 23: Introduction to the course.

August 25: The background to Chinese civilization. Read Moise, pp. 1-20.

August 28: The later dynasties, up to the Qing. Read Moise, pp. 20-28.

August 30: read Spence, The Death of Woman Wang, both the Preface (pp. xi-xv) and pp. 1-44 of the main body of the book, to get a picture of local society in late traditional China. Be prepared to discuss this material in class.

September 1: read Spence, The Death of Woman Wang, pp. 44-98. Be prepared to discuss this material in class.

September 4: LABOR DAY - NO CLASS

September 6: read Spence, The Death of Woman Wang, pp. 99-139.

September 8: Paper: Topic: To what extent did the central government, in Peking, care about the welfare of the people of T'an Ch'eng? There were ways it seemed to care, and ways it seemed not to care. Please cite as evidence at least five particular statements from Death of Woman Wang, giving the page numbers. Turn in your essay on Canvas, by midnight. Length: about two pages double spaced, or more.

September 11: : Moise, pp. 29-38: Foreign pressure and internal weakness.

September 13: Moise, pp, 38-53: The collapse of the Qing Dynasty

September 15: Communism.             QUIZ

September 18: Moise, pp. 54-68. The Guomindang (Nationalist Party) and the Chinese Communist Party allied for a few years, but split in 1927.

September 20, 22: Moise, pp. 69-74, and Seybolt, pp. xi-xxiv and 1-23. The Guomindang from 1927 to 1937.

September 25: Moise, pp. 74-91: The Chinese Communist Party from 1927 to 1937; the growth of Japanese power in China.

September 27: Moise, pp. 92-105, and Seybolt, pp. 23-30: World War II in China.

September 29: Moise, pp. 105-121. The final civil war in China led to Communist victory in 1949.

October 2: Read Seybolt, pp. 31-39, and Moise, pp. 122-131, 138-44, on land reform, the establishment of Communist control in China, and China's foreign relations.

October 6, 9: Moise, 131-164, and Seybolt, 41-64: The early years of the People's Republic of China, up through the Great Leap Forward and the Split between China and the Soviet Union.

October 11: TEST

October 13, 18: The Cultural Revolution: Moise, 165-196, and Seybolt, 65-75

            October 16: FALL BREAK, NO CLASS

October 20: The Cultural Revolution: aftermath: Shen Tong, chapter 1

October 23: The Death of Mao: Moise, pp. 197-219

October 25: After Mao: Shen Tong, chapter 2

October 27:

October 30: China under Deng Xiaoping: Shen Tong, pp. 58-96

November 1: Deng Xiaoping's reforms, continued: Seybolt, chapters 7-8

November 3: China under Deng Xiaoping, continued: Shen Tong, pp. 96-131

November 6: The Background to Tiananmen, continued: Moise, pp. 220-224, and Shen Tong, chapter 6

November 8: The beginning of Tiananmen: Moise, pp. 224-229, and Shen Tong, pp. 165-195

November 10: Tiananmen continued: Shen Tong, pp. 196-228

November 13: Tiananmen continued: Shen Tong, pp. 228-267

November 15: Tiananmen continued: Shen Tong, pp. 267-301

November 17: The massacre. Shen Tong, pp. 302-334

November 20: China after Tiananmen.: Moise, pp. 229-239, and Shen Tong, pp. vii-xviii and Epilogue

            November 22, 24: THANKSGIVING BREAK

November 27: Houhua Village: Seybolt, chapter 9

November 29: The Boom Years: Moise, pp. 241-261

December 1: Taiwan

December 6: Recent events. Moise, pp. 261-268

December 8: Recent events, continued.
>>> Minshin Pei, "Crony Communism in China", New York Times, October 17, 2014. Xi Jinping's crackdown on high-level corruption.
>>> Edward Wong, "In New China, 'Hostile' West is Still Derided", New York Times, November 12, 2014.
>>> Dan Levin, "Top Chinese Official Is Ousted From Communist Party", New York Times, July 20, 2015.
>>> Edward Wong, "China Uses 'Picking Quarrels' Charge to Cast a Wider Net Online", New York Times, July 26, 2015.
Ian Johnson, "This Chinese Christian Was Charged with Trying to Subvert the State", New York Times, March 25, 2019.
Alexandra Stevenson and Cao Li, "'China s Manhattan' Borrowed Heavily: The People Have Yet to Arrive," New York Times, April 10, 2019.


Final exam: Tuesday, December 12, 3:00 p.m.


Other Links

Photos Taken in China, 2002 and 2005

Web site of the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas

Clemson University Academic Support Center, which provides help and tutoring for students encountering academic problems. It does not, however, have tutors specifically for History courses.

Edwin Moïse's homepage

Writing Chinese names

This course will emphasize general policies more than the individuals who made those policies. This is fortunate for readers not already familiar with China, since variations in the way Chinese names are spelled in English, and cases in which none of the spellings seem to the English speaker to match the way the name is actually pronounced, can cause considerable confusion. A few years ago the English-speaking world used what was called the "Wade-Giles" system to write most Chinese names. In the Wade-Giles system the pronunciation of consonants often shifted drastically depending on the presence or absence of an apostrophe. Thus the word pronounced like "bye" was written pai, while the word pronounced like "pie" was written p'ai. The names of provinces and major cities, however, were written in a different system. Sometimes the same sound was written in two different ways depending on whether it appeared in the name of a person or a place, and neither spelling corresponded to the way it was actually pronounced.

Recently we have shifted to a new system called pinyin, for the names of both people and places. The pinyin system is a bit more rational, but there are still some cases in which the sound indicated by the letters is not what the average English speaker would guess (see Vohra, page xi).

* * * The following table relates the spelling and the pronunciation for the sounds most likely to cause confusion:




ts', tz'
i, ih, u
ts, tz


a as in papa
b as in boy
ts as in shots
d as in dog
g as in good
ee as in feet after b, d, j, l, m, n, p, q, t, x
i as in shirt after c, ch, r, s, sh, z, zh
ye as in yes
yo as in yoke
j as in jeep
ch as in cheap
approximately like the English letter r
sh as in she
ye as in yes
ds as in beds
j as in joke

The names that will appear most often in pinyin in this course include:
    --Beijing, pronounced "bay-jeeng", the capital of China. In Wade-Giles it would have been Pei-ching, but it was traditionally written Peking.
    --Deng Xiaoping, pronounced "Dung Shyao-peeng". A leading member of the "moderate" wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), he was twice purged by leftist radicals, but returned to become the most powerful figure in the Party after Mao Zedong died in 1976. Formerly written Teng Hsiao-p'ing.
    --Guangdong, pronounced "Guahng-dong", the south coast province that was headquarters for the Guomindang and the CCP in the mid 1920's, and is today the province where capitalism is strongest. Formerly spelled Kwangtung.
    --Guangzhou, pronounced "Guahng-joe", an important seaport, capital of the south coast province of Guangdong. It is often called Canton.
    --Guomindang, pronounced "Guo-meen-dahng", the name of the Nationalist Party which ruled China from 1927 to 1949 and still controls Taiwan. The old spelling, still in use on Taiwan, is Kuomintang.
    --Hu Jintao, pronounced "Who Jean-tao," head of the Chinese Communist Party from 2002 to 2012.
    --Jiangxi, pronounced "Jyahng-shee", a province in south-central China where the Communist Party established a base area in the early 1930's. Formerly written Kiangsi.
    --Mao Zedong, pronounced "Mao (a single short syllable) Dzuh-dong", head of the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 to 1976. Formerly written Mao Tse-tung.
    --Qing, pronounced "Cheeng", the Manchu dynasty which ruled the Chinese Empire from 1644 to 1911. Formerly written Ch'ing.
    --Shanghai, pronounced "Shahng-hai", the largest city in China, on the coast near the mouth of the Yangzi River. Former spelling the same.
    --Xi Jinping, pronounced She Jeen-peeng, became head of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2012.
    --Yanan, a city in Shaanxi province (Northwest China) that served as headquarters for the CCP from 1937 to 1947. Formerly written Yenan, which matches the actual pronunciation.
    --Yangzi, pronounced "Yahng-dzih", the great river that flows from west to east through the middle of China. Formerly written Yangtse. Also called the Chang Jiang (formerly spelled Ch'ang Chiang).
    --Zhao Ziyang, pronounced "Jao Dzih-yang", became Premier of the People's Republic of China in 1980, then General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1987; lost his job in 1989 because he supported the Democracy Movement. Formerly written Chao Tzu-yang.
    --Zhou Enlai, pronounced "Joe En-lie", Chinese Premier until his death in 1976. A moderate leader who managed to stay on good terms with Mao Zedong all through the Cultural Revolution. Formerly written Chou En-lai.

There are a few people and places that have long been known in the west not simply by a different spelling, but by a significantly different name from that given them in modern standard Chinese. To avoid excessive confusion, I will use the familiar English names for Hong Kong, Tibet, and Manchuria, for the Guomindang Party leaders Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and for the philosophers Confucius and Mencius, rather than giving the names currently used in China (Xianggang, Xizang, Dongbei, Sun Zhongshan, Jiang Jieshi, Kongzi, and Mengzi).

Chinese names almost always consist of a one-syllable surname, which comes first, and is followed by a two-syllable personal name. Thus Mao Anying was the son of Mao Zedong, and both of them would be found, in an alphabetical index, listed under "Mao".

Regional geography

China proper, the area that has for centuries had a dense population of ethnic Chinese, can be divided into three major regions:

I. North China. The most conspicuous feature of this region is the Yellow River, or Huang He (formerly spelled Huang Ho). It follows a wide, looping path through the arid hills of the Northwest, and finally crosses the densely populated North China Plain (largely created by the silt it has laid down) to reach the sea. It is not navigable, and it is very difficult to control; it lays down so much silt that the bed of the river tends to rise with the passage of time, and the water must be kept in its course by high dikes on either side. Eventually, the bed of the river may rise until it is considerably higher than the surrounding countryside. When the dikes break and the river flows down onto the lands around it, the task of putting it back in its elevated channel is difficult, sometimes impossible. Thousands die in the resulting floods. Three times in the past 200 years the river has changed its course very drastically, with the point at which it flows into the sea being altered by hundreds of miles.
    The area along the Yellow river is the original home of Chinese civilization. The soil is relatively rich, but harsh winters and sparse rainfall limit agricultural production.

II. Central China. The dominant feature is the Yangzi River, which is navigable far into the interior. The provinces along the Yangzi and its tributaries form the most populous region of China.

III. South China has no single unifying feature; it is cut up by a number of small mountain ranges. However, despite the uneven terrain, its generous rainfall and mild climate have made possible a productive agriculture that supports a large population.

In addition, there are peripheral areas which have not been inhabited by many ethnic Chinese for most of history, but which have been controlled by the Chinese government when that government was strong. The main ones are:

IV. Manchuria, to the northeast of North China. This was a fringe area for the Chinese Empire for most of its history, but a flood of Chinese settlers in modern times has made it essentially Chinese today. The principal unifying feature in during the 20th century was not natural but manmade: the South Manchurian Railway, running north from the port of Dalian (Dairen) through the major cities of Manchuria. This region was long one of the main centers of Chinese industry, though its importance has declined recently.

V. Mongolia to the north of China has always been too arid to support a dense population. It was under the control of the Chinese government for a considerable time, but early in the twentieth century Outer Mongolia became a separate country, the Mongolian People's Republic, under strong Russian influence. Inner Mongolia has remained part of China.

VI. Xinjiang (Sinkiang), the northern part of what appears on the map as far-western China, is mostly mountain or desert, with a few areas of fertile oases. The indigenous population, quite sparse, was traditionally made up mostly of Muslims.

VII. Tibet, the southern part of what appears on the map as far-western China, is mountainous and inaccessible; the population is very sparse. Of all the regions listed, this is the one where Chinese influence has traditionally been the weakest.

Revised November 26, 2023.