Week 3: Consolidation

(Module 1 "Conquest and Consolidation", part 2/2)

Table of Contents

Background information

One of the big questions that will return again and again in this course is how to rule a territory as big as the Qing, or the modern People's Republic (which is a bit smaller than the Qing empire). One possible way is for rulers to create a parallel network of informal, more direct channels of communication, because bureaucracy (for all intents and purposes invented by the Chinese well before the creation of empire in 221BCE, and optimized by the first century) slows... things.... down... .
Also keep an eye open throughout the course for issues of corruption at various levels of government.

Why does this matter?
If you keep an eye out for it, you'll see that bribes, corruption and grafting appear everywhere in and near politics (not just in China!). The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) promised to be a breath of fresh air in the twentieth century, but fell soon enough in the same patterns as predecessors. Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the CCP, Chairman of the Military Commission, and President of the PRC, built a lot of his legitimacy and authority as leader of China on combating corruption.

Another theme to look into is the extension of the borders. Last week we saw how Taiwan was conquered and became formally a part of the Qing empire. That will return in future weeks in the course. This week, emperors take on (again!) the Western Regions, or what is now known as Xinjiang (literally "New Frontiers").

Why does this matter?
As this week's readings in the textbook show, China's headaches with its westernmost province are not new. The majority of the population of Xinjiang is Uyghur, a Muslim people, who are ethnically different from the Han Chinese who form the majority overall in the PRC. These ethnic and religious differences have always made it difficult, because the Xinjiang region has always had close affinity with (or been part of) Central Asian regimes. In the past few years many hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in Xinjiang have been forced into "rehabilitation camps" or internment camps; those who remain free are under close surveillance, originally as part of anti-terrorist measures. The official line from the PRC is that the Uyghurs get educational training, and learn Mandarin to increase employment opportunities. Experiences from the few who managed to get out paint a very different picture. The US government has issued sanctions against a number of Chinese officials, and the human rights abuses contribute to the worsening US-China relations. A search for the term Uyghur/Uighur on the New York Times, BBC, Washington Post or other news site will lead you to many other articles, and commentators do not hesitate to use the term genocide. This thread on twitter gathers a lot of useful resources (you don't need to sign in on twitter to look at tweets/threads):

Readings

Remember: Use the login name and password found on the Canvas SECRETS page for the PDFs hosted in the PDF vault (url starting with "docs.tdh.bergbuilds")

Basic Set

All students look through these materials:

  • Textbook summary chapter 4
  • Textbook summary chapter 5
  • Textbook summary chapter 6
  • Platt, Stephen R. "How Britain's First Mission to China Went Wrong: Why the Macartney Mission Went Awry." LA Review of Books, China Channel, May 18, 2018. https://chinachannel.org/2018/05/18/macartney/
    • While this was a momentous turning point in Chinese-Western relations, at the same time we should bear in mind that to China, the West appeared very small indeed!
  • "6.5: The Second Edict [from Qianlong to King George], Sept. 1793". In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, edited by Janet Y. Chen, Pei-kai Cheng, Michael Elliot Lestz, and Jonathan D Spence, 90-93. Third ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014. (PDF)
    • The Qianlong Emperor sent this second edict to King George, in response to the request to open up diplomatic relations between equal states, and to allow for a permanent ambassador to reside in China, near the court of the Emperor.
  • Slides (Gdrive link)
    • Images to give you some sense of the splendor of the court, and the different perceptions in the West of the Macartney embassy of 1793 to the Qianlong emperor's court.
  • HOT OFF THE PRESS: (OPTIONAL EXTRA but highly recommended if you write about Macartney)

Exploration Pack 1: Plain Textbook

A solid overview of the main issues plaguing emperors and the empire.

  • Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. Third ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
    • Chapters 4, 5, and 6.
  • Documentary Collection (orange cover): 5.4 "The Twenty Crimes of Heshen and 5.5: "An Inventory of the Household Property Confiscated from the Home of Heshen" (#government, #corruption)

Exploration Pack 2: Foreigners

What did Macartney and his entourage know about China? Much of their knowledge came from the Jesuits, who had been working in China since the late Ming dynasty, and transmitting their information about China to Europe, where it was translated widely. Jean Baptiste Du Halde created a massive encyclopedia that was a bestseller in Europe, and it was swiftly translated into English.

  • OPTIONAL EXTRA: New find! "Matteo Ricci and the Ming dynasty". In Our Time, BBC Radio 4 (Podcast), April 16, 2015. URL: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05qjq67
  • Mungello, David. "4. European Acceptance of Chinese Culture and Confucianism." In The Great Encounter of China and The West, 1500 - 1800. Critical Issues in History. World and International History. Lanham, Md: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013. (ebook Trexler) (#intellectual-history, #foreign-relations)
    • The West was originally enamoured with Ming and Qing China: it saw a civilization on a par with itself, with access to office based on merit, with no dominant role from the Church (in particular before the French Revolution of 1789 these were fascinating ideas to Europeans!), and a highly developed culture. But that would soon enough change.
  • Ehret-Kump, Matthew. "The Passion of Giuseppe Castiglione: How an 18th century Jesuit Painter Revolutionized Chinese Art". LA Review of Books, China Channel, January 17, 2019. URL: https://chinachannel.org/2019/01/17/castiglione/ (#foreign-relations, #art)
    • Castiglione was a court painter for the Kangxi and Qianlong emperors.
    • How does he combine Western and Chinese traditions in his work?
  • Du Halde, J.-B. The General History of China : Containing a Geographical, Historical, Chronological, Political and Physical Description of the Empire of China, Chinese-Tartary, Corea and Thibet. Done from the French of P. Du Halde. Ecco Database. London: Printed by and for John Watts, 1736. (ebook Trexler) (#primary-source, #intellectual-history)
      • Volumes 2, 3 and 4 contain the most interesting sections about Chinese customs and habits. (Volume 1 is "dry" Chinese history.)
      • Pick one (small) section from Vol. 2, 3 or 4 and give us a three-sentence summary of the contents. Then describe your reaction to it: do you think the Westerners understood what was going on? How would this information influence how Westerners (including Macartney) see the Chinese?
      • If you need some assistance to get into this text, here's a video walk through (<-- click that link for the host page with a bigger video)

 

More info on the Module 1 Show and Tell:

Check out the link to this dedicated page, including details of what it is, how to submit, and how creative you can get.

Will be included in the assignments for Week 4, but you can start brainstorming now!

Assignments

Discussion Week 2 post (reminder)

3 points, due Monday Sept. 7 by 11.59pm EST.

You're likely reading different texts from each other, so it is important that you read each other's initial posts, to enhance your understanding of the materials. 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 2 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 posts

5 points, due by Thursday, Sept. 10. 11.59pm EDT.

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.
  • Add the words "Week 3" in the title
  • Indicate in your post which Exploration Pack you chose.
  • Including 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 Exploration Pack I chose.
- I included an image, and I provided a caption and credit (source) for the image.
- I use the words Week 3 in the title, and added the post to category hst271

Discussion comments on post Week 3

3 points, due Monday Sept. 14 by 11.59pm ET.

You're likely reading different texts from each other, so it is important that you read each other's initial posts, to enhance your understanding of the materials.

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 3, 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.

Extra credit tasks

Extra commenting

2 points, due by Sunday Sept. 13, 11.59pm.

Do you like reading your colleagues’ work? Do you like helping them out by identifying ways to make their posts better? Here’s some good news! You can earn extra credit by doing extra commenting! This assignment will be available regularly throughout the semester.

  • Go to the Blog Stream of the Class under Student Posts on the website
  • Pick a post that piques your curiosity and that you have not yet commented on
  • Use Hypothes.is group HST271, and leave feedback as we practiced with the Architects’s model
  • Pick 2 additional posts (a total of 3 for this task): they can come from other students in the blog stream, or if you like the writer, you can stay with them and comment more.
  • The only conditions are:
    • that you do not comment on blog posts you already commented on before, as part of your regular weekly “Exploration” tasks.
    • that the post is actually written for HST271, and not some other class. Check the category, and the content :upside down smiley:
  • Add the tag extra to the comment (this helps me to keep track of how many people use this option.)

When you’re done, please read this declaration carefully and collect your points with the Canvas Declaration Quiz.

Declaration
I selected three blogs I have not yet commented on before, from our class’ blog stream, and I used the Hypothes.is group HST271 to comment.
I made sure to leave substantial comments that help the writer to improve the post, or to identify their strengths.
I added the tag extra to my Hypothes.is comments.
I left comments that I would like to receive myself: thoughtful, helpful, kind, but also pointing out errors so they can be fixed.

"Down the Rabbit Hole"

3 points, due by Sunday, Sept. 13, 11.59pm.

Are you curious? Can you spend hours on internet following one link after another trying to get to the bottom of something? Did you know you can now also get some extra credit for this?

Pick a topic, place name, object, book or person connected to our readings from this week, and follow your curiosity "down the rabbit hole", like Alice in Wonderland. Then share in a blog post with us where you went, and what you found. Your post does not have to be very long: 250 words should work; more is fine if you went on a deep dive, of course. Here's what to include:

  • What in the course materials this week got you inspired to go down the rabbit hole?
  • Include as hyperlinked text the websites you visited, and what you learned there.
  • Include an image, with caption giving credit for the image.
  • You may also critique the sources you find, in particular if you have your doubts about their reliability, or you come across conflicting interpretations. Which one did you side with, and why?
  • Add the post to category hst271, use the title template "Down the rabbit hole: [insert subject]", and add the tag extra.

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

Declaration
I wrote a post about additional materials on the internet I found, starting from a topic connected to course materials from this week.
I included the sites I visited as hyperlinked text, and explained what I learned on these pages.
I included an image, with a caption and credit for the image.
I added the post to the category hst271, used the tag extra, and used the title template "Down the rabbit hole: [insert topic]" for my post.

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!

On to week 4: Coming soon!