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Unit 4: Nationalism, Industrialism, and Imperialism

Lesson D: Western Trade Opens Chinese Doors

Lesson Overview

Throughout much of world history, China was a leading world power. China, a key player in international trade, prior to the 17th century, built ships larger than the European explorers, invented paper, block type, and gunpowder, and was the most influential cultural and military force in Asia. That started to change in the 19th century when China failed to industrialize. As newly industrializing countries Russia and Japan were using new technologies to improve production and to modernize their militaries. China strongly resisted Western economic and technological advances.

In the 19th century, the Chinese faced growing pressure from foreigners. Without a strong and modernized army, China could not defend itself, and experienced a series of defeats. China also experienced a series of rebellions and internal uprisings. This led to attempts to modernize and reassert its power. However, by the 19th century China had lost its ability to compete with other countries. These external and internal pressures led to the Revolution of 1911 and eventually led to a complete revolution of its government and economy in the 20th century.

Territories of China Over Time [1]

Key Questions

  1. How and why did imperialism grow during the 19th and early 20th centuries?
  2. How was economic imperialism different than other forms of imperialism?
  3. How did people and governments respond towards imperialism?
  4. How did imperialism and foreign pressure lead to changes in China's government and economy?

Student Outcomes

  1. Analyze why Qing China resisted political contact and trade with Europeans and its reluctance to industrialize and modernize following a European model.
  2. Analyze how the reactions to economic imperialism and the Qing Dynasty, including the Taiping Uprising and the Boxer Rebellion, laid the foundation for attempted governmental reform movements and later revolutions in China.
  3. Explain the growth of the Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia and the Americas and assess the role of overseas Chinese in attempts to reform the Qing.
  4. Evaluate multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past and explain their differing motives and beliefs. (Historical Thinking Skill)

Key Terms

Student Resources

Chart of Activities

Activities to Complete Estimated Time
5 minutes
Key Terms
5 minutes
Activator: The World 1800s
5 minutes
Opening: China and Imperialism
10 minutes
Activity 1: China Rebuffs Europeans
10 minutes
Activity 2: Europeans Gain Chinese Ports
30 minutes
Activity 3: The Chinese React to Foreign Intervention
15 minutes
Activity 4: Foreign Intervention and Economic Imperialism on China
10 minutes
Activity 5: Chinese Diaspora
10 minutes
Activity 6: Efforts at Chinese Reform
20 minutes
Review and Assessment
15 minutes
Lesson Summary
5 minutes

Lesson Completion Time

The total estimated time to complete this lesson is 140 minutes.

Page Notes:

[1] Source: This animated image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Territories _of_Dynasties_in_China.gif is licensed for use under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.