Course Code


Course Name

China and World History in the 20th Century


Tuesday 6:30-9:30pm


YIA 402


Fion Wai Ling SO

Teaching Assistant

WEN Mingrui

Course Description

The early twentieth century witnessed a world of change manifested in two contesting economic doctrines; the laissez faire system favouring trade expansion contrasted directly with state interventionism favouring protectionist policies. Being part of this global process, China adapted whilst resisting according to internal political needs, and this affected how it fitted into overall East Asian and global trade patterns. It also played an important role in affecting how the Chinese local economies became integrated into the world during this period.

This course examines themes that are of importance for our understanding of major economic changes in China in the first decades of the twentieth century. It will cover topics including state-merchant relations, economic nationalism and colonialism, reform and rural commercialisation, internationalism and war. The aim of the course is to provide a sound basis, both in terms of factual knowledge and methodological approaches, for further in‐depth study of the history of China and its place in the world. 

Course Outline

Detailed Course Outline is available on Blackboard.

Week 1: Introduction to China in world history. The Long Nineteenth Century

Week 2: Nineteenth Century Disasters. Famines, the Taipings and the emergence of treaty port trade

Week 3: Chinese Diplomatic Service Aboard and Homeward

Week 4: China’s Relations with the West. From Cooperation to Confrontation

Week 5: Zheng Guanyin 鄭觀應’s shangzhan (‘商戰’) and rural commercialism

Week 6: The Xinzheng Reform of 1901

Week 7: State-Merchants Relations in China

Week 8: German Presence in China – the Model Colony of Qingdao

Week 9: From laissez-faireism to state interventionism

Week 10: The Russo-Japanese War of 1904/05

Week 11: The Zhoufu’s Family and the Emergence of Yuan Shikai

Week 12: Economic Nationalism and the Provincial Seat at Jinan

Week 13: The Final years of the late Qing. From Economic Nationalism to Revolution

Assessment & Assignments

Attendance (10%)

Oral presentations (20%)

Mid-term Essay (30%)

Take home exam (40%)

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.