The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST5502XC Special Topics in Modern Chinese History: Politics and Society of China in the Early 20th Century

Semester 2 (2021-2022)

Lecture TimeFriday 6:30pm - 9:15pm

VenueLSK LT1


Lecturer FENG Xiaocai

Teaching Assistant YANG Zhishui (

Course Description

Course Description

This course explores various complex issues of politics, society, economy and culture of twentieth-century China. It will address the rise of nationalism, patterns of mass mobilization, formation of the party-state, economic and financial crisis, etc.. It starts from the Boxer Uprising (1900) and ends at the debacle of the KMT regime in Mainland China in 1949.

       By the end of the course, students will:

(1)  Have enhanced their critical analysis of various political discourses of early twentieth-century China.

(2)  Have enhanced their knowledge and imagination of crucial events of early twentieth-century China.

(3)  Have enhanced their knowledge of and the ability to use various archives of twentieth-century China for research.

(4)   Have enhanced reading, writing, and oral expression skills.


Course Outline


Week 01:     Introduction


Week 02     From Boxer Uprising to Railroad Campaign: Nationalism and Local Autonomy


Week 03:      Paradoxical Revolution: Slogans, Violence and Order


Week 04:      How to “Mobilize the Masses”—From May Fourth to the Northern Expedition


Week 05:    From disintegration to “unification”: Chaos and Prosperity of the Warlord Era


Week 06:      The “Powers” in China: Diplomacy and Internal Politics Entangled


Week 07: Semester Paper Workshop I: Archives, Topics and Problematics


Week 08: Semester Paper Workshop II: Structure, Logic and Text


Week 09:     The “New Life Movement”: Social Reproduction and Cultural Production under Party-State


Week 10:    Starting from Nanjing: Authoritarian Governments and the social containment of the “Enemies”


Week 11:        Economic Centralization, Expansion of State-Owned Sector and the Exploitation of Agriculture: From Wartime Economy to Post-War Economy


Week 12:     The Politics of Usurping the People: Social Organizations, Elections and the Conflict among Political Parties


Week 13:    Tax, Finance and the Financial“Destiny” of Twentieth-Century China

Assessment & Assignments

Assessment & Assignments

Tutorial and Classroom Participation:10%

Semester Paper:90%

*Topic:To be announced

*Minimum Word Length:5,000 Chinese characters including footnotes

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.

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