Spring 2024 | Asia, Africa, and Europe Exploration

HIST 452 - China in the Modern World, 1600-Present

Overview of Course

China was a vast empire that lived through many dynastic cycles since ancient times. It had relatively little interaction with other civilizations, thinking of itself as “all under heaven.” Just as China pulled in on itself in the late Ming dynasty (c. 1600), Europe began to reach out during the Age of Discovery. By the late 19th century, the Qing (Manchu) dynasty declined to its nadir as western powers vied with one another to “carve up the Chinese melon.” By 1911 the Qing government ceased to exist.
Why did this happen? Why did China not industrialize? How did it try to defend itself against encroachment from the West? What accounts for China’s remarkable historical trajectory?
Does China seek to integrate itself into the global order authored by the West after WW2? Or is China building alliances through so called “Belt and Road” diplomacy with developing nations on a path to its own hegemony rivaling the United States in a multi-polar world? Is China a threat to the United States, or can both super powers, one established and one rising, accommodate each other in the Indo Pacific region and beyond?