Courses Detail Information

HIS2580J – The History of Modern China’s Foreign Relations

Instructor: Chang-Ching Tu

Instructors (Faculty):

Credits: 4 credits

Pre-requisites: None


This module is designed to give students a chronological understanding of the course of Sino-foreign relations from the late eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century. It starts by introducing students to an overview of the first contact between the development of the Celestial Court of the Qinglong Reign, through to the decline of the Manchu empire and the downfall of the Northern Government, finally ending with an understanding of the collapse of the Nationalist Government in 1949.

By presenting an underlying historical narrative through the module arching across almost two hundred years, it aims to provide students with a solid grounding in modern Sino-Foreign history and an insight into the complexity and continuity of a country with a radically different cultural and historical heritage to Europe and America. By emphasizing Chinese perspectives of history, this course is primarily designed as a correction to and update of John King Fairbank’s seminal Impact-Response framework for interpreting Chinese history, which has played a dominant role in Western historiographies of China over the past 50 years.  

Course Topics:

  1.  Introduction
  2. The First Official Contact of the Qing and British Empires
  3. Confronting the West: The Opening of the Celestial Court: The Frist Opium War and the Treaty of Nanking.
  4. The Reconfirmation of the Treaty System: The Second Opium War and the Treaties of Tientsin and Peking.
  5. The Self-Strengthening Movement and the Formation of China’s Foreign Policies.
  6. Wars, Defeats and the Deterioration of Sino-Foreign Relations
  7. Indemnities, Loans and the Recovery of Sino-Foreign Relations
  8. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the New Policies Reforms
  9. Constitutional Struggles of the Early Republic
  10. The Participation into WWI
  11. The Rise of Chinese Nationalism and the Southern Revolutionaries.
  12. The Nanjing Decade of the Nationalist Government.
  13. The Second Sino-Japanese War, Phase I.
  14. The Second World War, Phase II.
  15. The Collapse of the Super Four.

Course Profile