Week 12: Reopening the Doors and Redefining Revolution

Nov. 9 – 15

Module 5: Re-entering the World

This week we start on the final module, where we start to see the China that probably resembles most closely what you know from your own lifetime – but also shows opportunities for different lines of development that were not taken. Maybe in a few years, we’ll have to a add a sixth module, or at least a new chapter, “Closing the doors again”, because in the past couple of years, the PRC’s foreign policy has certainly raised the hackles of many countries that had developed closer connections. Who knows? We’re students of history here, not forecasters, but if one thing is clear from our trajectory of four centuries of Chinese history, it is that it is hard to predict what comes next.

Heads up: Show and Tell 4

Usually the Show and Tell concluding a module is due a week later, and that would mean it is due on Friday Nov. 13. But in view of the onslaught of assignments and the tensions of last week’s election stress for those of us in the US (forgive me for projecting, I think it’s warranted), I am pushing the due date to Nov. 20. That gives you a clear Thanksgiving Break. More information about this in Assignment below, and on the dedicated webpage.

Table of Contents

Background

If the revolutionary zeal of the Red Guards could be turned into electric power, it could probably fuel the country for years to come. Unfortunately, that’s not how physics works, and meanwhile, the lack of formal education began to worry people in high positions: how to ensure that there was sufficient new development in science and technology to remain independent (after the breakdown of relations with the USSR)? In addition, concerns about increasing agricultural yield and development of oil fields discovered in northeastern China’s Daqing, to name just a few, as well as border skirmishes with the USSR, made the leadership ponder the possibility of a rapprochement with other states, and in particular the US.

Behind the scenes, work began on carefully reaching out, and this eventually resulted in Nixon’s visit in February 1972. Nixon was a staunch anti-communist, who had laid the foundations for the 1950s McCarthyism, so while he was the most unlikely president to do this, it also mean that it was easier for the American public to accept the visit as part of a step towards normalizing the relations with the PRC.

That normalization, in the form of formally establishing diplomatic presence in each other’s country (embassies), did not happen until 1979. This move had important consequences for Taiwan, or the Republic of China (ROC) as it is formally known. The regime on the island was led by Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Guomindang (GMD), and after his death in 1975, his son Chiang Ching-kuo. Martial Law was in effect until 1987. But the US had always formally recognized Taiwan (ROC), and not the PRC, and that included its right to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council as a result of the ROC work during WWII. That was now all to change.

This brief video clip brings you in 6 minutes up to speed with the most important things you need to know about the visit:

Why does this matter? The US cannot maintain official diplomatic relations simultaneously with the PRC and the ROC, because the PRC sees Taiwan as a renegade province. It also explains why the WHO currently only has a PRC representative and Taiwan is left out of the conversation – potentially this helped to ease the cover-up attempted at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, before transmission of the novel corona-virus was well understood, but Taiwan could not really get the attention of the WHO easily. We’ll look at Hong Kong next week.

With the death of Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong in 1976, even more changes came: the Gang of Four was quickly arrested, but the jockeying for power among the top leadership was only beginning. Eventually, Deng Xiaoping would come out on top. The “Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee of the CCP” in December 1978 was the meeting which indicated drastic change of direction for China was to come. This heralded a shift in focus towards the “Four Modernizations”: Agriculture, industry, the military, and science and technology. There came openings for peasants to own small amounts of land privately, and subtle but important shifts in the way the economy was regulated allowed for small-scale market forces to surface.

Notoriously absent from the Four Modernizations was any change to the political system, yet people began to speak and write about their ideas for a better and more inclusive political future anyway, in 1978 and early 1979. On a wall near the Forbidden City they stuck their Big Character posters (similar to those of the Cultural Revolution to spread information), and the most impactful of these was Wei Jingsheng’s “Fifth Modernization”. There were also protests from young people, representing tens of thousands of others who had been sent down to the countryside ten years earlier, and who now wanted to be allowed to return. The government crack-down came before long, and like many others Wei Jingsheng was arrested, put on trial and convicted. He was not released until 1993, and after a second brief spell in prison was sent to the US, where he still lives and works as a human rights activist.

Why does this matter? China’s struggle with its dissidents is ongoing, but importantly: this is the second case where we see the government/party apparently relaxing, before cracking down harsly (see the campaign against rightists in the late 1950s, week 10). And of course, 1989 still lies ahead of us.

Readings

Basic Set

Work through these materials, then pick one of the three Exploration Packs:

  • No summary for chapter 23 – do I have a volunteer?
  • Summary chapter 24
  • Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents. Edited by Rick Perlstein. James Madison Library in American Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.
    • This is the text of the so-called “Shanghai Communiqué” or the “US-PRC Joint Communiqué, which resulted in the strange construction that either Taiwan or mainland China can get official recognition from the US, but not both at the same time. (PDF) #diplomacy #USA
    • To the untrained eye, it doesn’t look like a lot is being said. To the diplomats, it is pretty clear that this is an important document. What is said? What is left out? And what does it mean?
  • Liu Qing. “Sad Memories and Prospects: My Appeal to the Tribunal of the People.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.
    • Liu remembers the trial of Wei Jingsheng, his different opinions with Wei, and then Wei’s request to represent him in court. (PDF) #human-rights #democracy
    • OPTIONAL EXTRA: translated text of Wei Jingsheng. “The Fifth Modernization.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. (PDF) #democracy #human-rights

Textbook alternatives:

  • Moïse Edwin E. Modern China: A History Third ed. Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman, 2008. (ebook Trexler):Chapter 9
  • Dillon, Michael. China: A Modern History. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. (ebook Trexler): Chapter 15

Exploration Pack 1: Textbook

Good old textbook completeness in two chapters: Note to readers in earlier editions: The chapter numbers are off at this point, so check for content rather than chapter number! Stop if you get to the One Child Policy, that’s for next week.

Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. Third ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.

  • Chapters 23 (Re-opening to the World) and 24 (Redefining the Revolution)
  • “Mourning with the Deepest Grief the Passing Away of the Great Leader adn Great Teacher Chairman Mao Zedong.” In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third ed. Edited by Janet Chen et. al. W. W. Norton & Company, 2014. (PDF) #Mao #CCP

Exploration Pack 2: Nixon in China

  • Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai, “Toasts at a Banquet Honoring the Premier“, February 25, 1972.
    • Read this in addition to the Shanghai Communiqué in the Basic Set. This website has Nixon’s toast to Zhou Enlai (the premier of China) and Zhou’s response. What is interesting, in terms of the language used, the difference with the rhetoric we saw for instance last week in Mao’s writings, and how would diplomats at the time understand the exchanges? #diplomacy # USA
  • Madsen, Richard. China and the American Dream : A Moral Inquiry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
    • Chapter 3: “Nixon’s China” gives an International Relations perspective and a bit of a look behind the scenes of arranging the visit. (ebook Trexler, 26 pages)

Optional extras for option 2, pick and mix as curiosity and time allow:

  • Cunningham, Maura Elizabeth. “Panda-monium at the Bronx Zoo: A History“. Mauracunningham.org. February 8, 2018. (8 min read)
    • Premier Zhou Enlai arranged for two pandas, named Ling-ling and Xing-xing, to be sent to the US as a goodwill gift, but they were not the first pandas to come to the US. #panda #diplomacy #USA
    • Read also the story of how Pat Nixon got her two pandas. Moral of the story: be careful what you wish for!
  • Songster, E. Elena. Panda Nation: The Construction and Conservation of China’s Modern Icon. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018.
    • If you can’t get enough of pandas as ambassadors, here’s a whole book! But the section connected to this week’s content is found in chapter 5, pp. 84-91. (ebook Trexler)
  • Nixon in China, by John Adams. Libretto by Alice Goodman. Metropolitan Opera, 2011.
    • Access to Met Opera through Trexler Library (full run time, incl. interviews: 2hrs 56′, but you can select from the “Track List” in the top left corner) #opera #diplomacy #USA #music #arts
    • Yes, there is an opera. It was premiered in 1987. There are some amazing arias and chorus sections, and I think it’s worth taking the time to get into the genre and watching parts of it if you can’t get through all. Personal recommended highlights: “Soldiers of heaven hold the sky”; “The people are the heroes now”; “News, news, news, news”; “I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung”; “I am old and cannot sleep forever”.
    • The libretto is based on extensive research of material from the 1972 trip, but of course with artistic liberties to bring out the internal voices of the main characters.
    • Should you want to read more, there is a study: Johnson, Timothy A. John Adams’s Nixon in China : Musical Analysis, Historical and Political Perspectives. London: Taylor and Francis, 2016. (ebook Trexler). In between the technical musical stuff there are interesting nuggets of information about the choices made in the score.

Exploration Pack 3: Meanwhile in Taiwan

What’s been happening in Taiwan? Although not communist, it was after 1949 politically under the rule of the Nationalist GMD (or KMT with the abbreviation of the older transcription), and the evolution towards a full democracy was a long and complex process. Chiang Kai-shek was succeeded by his son Chiang Ching-kuo, and the country was under martial law until 1987. Yet from late 70s political opposition parties began to be allowed, and elections were (with some problems…) held, although human rights issues remained a point of contention. At the behest of Chiang the process of democratization was ushered forward, but that could only happen thanks to the relentless pressure from the opposition.

Lee Teng-hui was Taiwan’s first democratically elected president in 1996 (rather than appointed through the National Assembly), but he had a bit of a headstart! He had led the country since the death of Chiang Ching-kuo in 1988.

  • Qiu, Chuiliang. “6: Institutionalizing the Tangwai: the DPP.” In Democratizing Oriental Despotism: China from 4 May 1919 to 4 June 1989 and Taiwan from 28 February 1947 to 28 June 1990. London: Macmillan, 1995.
    • You can read more about the political changes towards democracy, and the challenges facing the opposition, in this chapter. But bear in mind that recently historians pay more attention than is done here to the role of people who are Taiwan natives, and in particular the non-Han peoples who do not speak Mandarin (and whose culture and language has for generations been ignored, if not actively been repressed, yet who’ve been at the center of progress towards a more democratic and inclusive Taiwan). (ebook Trexler) #democracy #Taiwan #human-rights
    • Note:
      1. the term tangwai (pinyin dangwai) refers to political opposition outside the Nationalist Party (tang/dang meaning “political party”)
      2. the title of the book uses the term “Oriental Despotism” which honestly is unfortunate: it comes from an old Marxist interpretation of Asian history which paints the East as stuck in a particular mode of production and its concomitant political system, and does not credit the people of East Asia with much ingenuity or agency to affect change without outside intervention.
  • OPTIONAL EXTRA: The Life Journey of Chiang Ching Kuo. Anonymous Phoenix Satellite Television Company Limited, 2008. https://video-alexanderstreet-com.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/watch/the-life-journey-of-chiang-ching-kuo.
    • This Taiwanese documentary gives you all you ever wanted to know (I think), including his role in anti-democratic actions in 1979 for instance.

Assignments

Reminder: Peer feedback on post Week 11

3 points, due Mon. Nov. 9 by 11.59pm

Ok, you know the drill, and why reading other’s posts is good for you… Below you find links to four blog posts from your fellow students. If one of the websites is your own, or it is twice the same person’s, refresh the page, and you should get new sites.

  • Post 1:
  • Post 2:
  • Post 3:
  • Post 4:

Leave feedback, questions, thoughts, insights about the contents of the posts of your fellow students using Hypothes.is group HST271. You can ask for clarifications, point out similarities and differences with the material you covered, or with your interpretation. This should encourage you to nose around in the other materials you did not read in the first round.

Use the “Architect’s Model” of giving feedback, and engage with concrete issues. Go beyond “Yeah, I agree,” “I like” or “I think the same”, and instead explain why you have that reaction, or if you disagree, you can try to persuade the original poster of your idea or interpretation.

Remember that Hypothes.is allows for hyperlinks, e.g. to materials that support your argument, or you can include pictures (memes! [yes, there she is again]), videos etc. that help the original poster to learn more.

When you’ve commented on four posts, read this declaration carefully, and then fill out the Canvas quiz to collect your points.

Declaration
– I commented on four fellow students’ initial posts on the readings from Week 11, using the group HST271.
– I made sure to leave substantial comments that move the discussion forward and help to create better insights, and go beyond a “nice” or “great”.
– I left comments that I would like to receive myself: thoughtful, helpful, kind, but also pointing out errors so they can be fixed.

Blog post

5 points, due by Thursday, Nov. 12. 11.59pm.

Write a blog post exploring themes or ideas based on your reading. You do not need to have all the answers. In fact, learning to ask good analytical or research questions is a skill you can develop during the semester.

  • Length: approx. 400 words. excl. list of materials consulted.
  • Add the list of materials consulted at the end of the post, in Chicago notes and bibliography style.
    • TOP TIP: Just copy the bibliography information from the Reading list here.
    • Don’t include the (PDF) or the #hashtags – those are just there to help you
  • Add the words “Week 12″ in the title (please use this exact phrase, or it trips up the filter I created to have your posts show up in the blog stream)
  • Include an image, and make sure to add a caption with the source/credit.
  • Post on your website, and add to the category hst271.

When you’re done, read this declaration carefully and then fill out the Canvas quiz to collect your points.

Declaration
– I wrote a post of approximately 400 words in response to the readings.
– I included the bibliographic references for the materials I used for my post.
– I indicated which materials I used
– I included an image, and I provided a caption and credit (source) for the image.
– I use the words Week 12 in the title, and added the post to category hst271

Peer feedback on post Week 12

3 points, due Mon. Nov. 16 by 11.59pm

Ok, you know the drill, and why reading other’s posts is good for you… Below you find links to four blog posts from your fellow students. If one of the websites is your own, or it is twice the same person’s, refresh the page, and you should get new sites.

  • Post 1:
  • Post 2:
  • Post 3:
  • Post 4:

Leave feedback, questions, thoughts, insights about the contents of the posts of your fellow students using Hypothes.is group HST271. You can ask for clarifications, point out similarities and differences with the material you covered, or with your interpretation. This should encourage you to nose around in the other materials you did not read in the first round.

Use the “Architect’s Model” of giving feedback, and engage with concrete issues. Go beyond “Yeah, I agree,” “I like” or “I think the same”, and instead explain why you have that reaction, or if you disagree, you can try to persuade the original poster of your idea or interpretation.

Remember that Hypothes.is allows for hyperlinks, e.g. to materials that support your argument, or you can include pictures (memes! [yes, there she is again]), videos etc. that help the original poster to learn more.

When you’ve commented on four posts, read this declaration carefully, and then fill out the Canvas quiz to collect your points.

Declaration
– I commented on four fellow students’ initial posts on the readings from Week 12, using the group HST271.
– I made sure to leave substantial comments that move the discussion forward and help to create better insights, and go beyond a “nice” or “great”.
– I left comments that I would like to receive myself: thoughtful, helpful, kind, but also pointing out errors so they can be fixed.

Show and Tell Module 4

Due Nov. 20

Check out the details on the dedicated webpage. You can create your own “adventure” but among the suggestions for response materials there now are also a number of movies available through the Canvas Media Gallery. Brief description for all those items on the aforementioned webpage.

Feedback on Show and Tell project 3

Not graded, but part of the “Participation in the Learning commons/Professionalism”

Below you’ll find links to two Show and Tell projects from fellow students. Please share your feedback with them, for instance:

  • what do you like about the format?
  • what did or did not quite work?
  • what helped you understand this particular period of Chinese history better?
  • what suggestions do you have for a make-over/redo?
    • you can re-submit your Show and Tell project anytime before the close of the semester for a better grade; think of the kind of advice you’d like to get to help you achieve that!
  • do you think the project can help future students, and should I use it next time I run the course?

Leave your comments on the blog-post either as a page note in the Hypothes.is group HST271 or if you can annotate the text itself, highlight and mark up with Hypothes.is.

If one of the websites is your own, or it is twice the same person’s, refresh the page, and you should get new sites.

  • Project 1
  • Project 1

Extra Credit Tasks

EC 12-1: Introduce an image

3 points, due Sunday Nov. 15, 11.59pm

All the details on this webpage, incl. a link to declaration quiz.

EC 12-2: Rewrite a post

3 points, due by Sunday Nov. 15, 11.59pm

Unhappy about a post you wrote? Feeling you can do better now than a few weeks ago? Had a bad week and rushed to get it in but now you’re ready to do something you can be proud of? Now you can rewrite a post and get extra credit for it!

  • Pick a post from a previous week and use the comments you received to rewrite it.
  • Add a brief paragraph at the end explaining how you rewrote the post: which comments did you address, how did you go about the process (new blank page vs. tinkering), and what you learned about the process of rewriting.
  • tag the post with extra, and add the word rewrite to the title

Read the following Declaration carefully, and then head on over to Canvas to collect your points in the Declaration Quiz:

Declaration
I selected a post from a previous week and rewrote it, using feedback and insights I gained since writing it.
I added a brief paragraph at the end explaining what I did to rewrite the post, and what I learned about rewriting
I added the tag extra to the post, and added the word rewrite to the title.
I made sure the post is still in the category hst271.

Where to ask questions

Remember that it is highly likely that you are not the only one with that question. Save me time, and help your fellow students by asking questions where others can see them. If you know the answer to a question, jump in! I can’t be everywhere all the time.

Missing link? Wrong information? Email me! “See something? Say something!”