Understanding the Political History of Modern China : From 1840 until Today

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Understanding the Political History of Modern China : From 1840 until Today






Academic Title:


Home University(From):

Renmin University of China

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本科生    硕士生    博士生

Undergraduate    Master    Doctoral student






Seminar course.

Reading materials in English, in-class discussion preferable in English, presentation in English only.


Class discussion & participation      30%

Group presentation        30%
Literature review         10%
Final paper      30%


2 credits


Dr. Lu XIA is currently an assistant professor at School of Marxism Studies at Renmin University. His major research interests include comparative politics (especially on comparative communism and authoritarian regime transition) and modern Chinese politics (especially on the building of modern state and its relation to the society). Dr. XIA obtained his BA degree in political science and held the MA degree in comparative politics from Renmin University of China in 2007 and 2009 respectively. He obtained Ph.D. degree in comparative politics at The University of Hong Kong in 2013. Dr. XIA was a visiting fellow at The University Service Centre for China Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in April 2015. He is now conducting a project on the adaptive innovation of the Chinese Communist Party-state’s governance.


How  has  China’s  grand  transformation  to  a  modern  nation-state shaped  the  country’s  state-society relationship today? By focusing on the tensions and conflicts between the Chinese state and  the  country’s  evolving  civil  society,  this  course  surveys  the  major  protests, rebellions and revolutions in China in the past 150 years. From a comparative perspective, this course particularly examines the economic, social, political and organizational resources  that  had  facilitated  various  Chinese  resistance  movements  during  the  country’s long  and  tedious  journey  to  modernity.   It also explores  how  China’s  revolutionary  past  had significantly influenced the social movements of Greater China areas today. Weekly topics include but are not limited to: the Chinese revolutionary tradition, the concept of  “the  mandate  of  heaven”,  Chinese  secret  societies  &  the  Triad,  underground  religions  &  cults past and present, the Chinese communist movement, the legacies of the Cultural Revolution,  the  democratic  movement  of  Tianan’men  in  1989,  the  latest  outburst  of nationalism in Mainland China, and vairous new forms of social resistance under the ongoing market reforms. Being part of the common core curriculum, this course is also designed to equip the students with conceptual frameworks to critically analyze the causes, processes and outcomes of social protests, rebellions and revolutions in general and to further their understanding on contentious politics—a crucial aspect of human society.


Session1  Challenging the Mandate of Heaven: An Introduction

Session2  When East Meets West: Struggling  for  “Chinese-ness”, or Not?
Session3  Secret Society, Underground Religion and Revolution
Session4  1911: The Sudden Collapse of the Ancien Régime
Session5  Utopia: The Chinese Communist Revolution
Session6  The Great Leap and its Enemies
Session7  Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: Chairman Mao and His Red Guards
Session8  The Idealism of the 1980s


Teacher's self-compiled materials


Session 1  Challenging the Mandate of Heaven: An Introduction

Required Reading:
John K. Fairbank, The Great Chinese Revolution: 1800-1985 (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1987), pp.1-11.
Optional Reading:
Roderick  MacFarquhar,  “The  People’s  Republic  of  China  at  Sixty”,   in  The  People’s


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