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1. What was China like in 1936?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about what China was like on the eve of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), focusing in particular on: (i) the Warlord Era in Chinese history, and the alliance between the Kuomintang (KMT) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1924; (ii) the death of Sun Yat-sen, the split of the KMT, and the rise of Chiang Kai-shek; (iii) Chiang’s campaign against the regional warlords, the establishment of a national capital at Nanjing, and the overthrow of the Beiyang government in Beijing; (iv) Chiang’s attacks on Communist strongholds (known as ‘soviets’) in the Chinese hinterland; (v) the Communists’ retreat from Chiang’s attacks between 1934-35, known as the Long March, and the establishment of a new headquarters in Yan’an; (vi) the presence of Russians and Japanese in Manchuria, and the continued influence of regional warlords across China; (vii) the weakness of the Chinese economy, fuelled in part by an opium epidemic that was encouraged by regional warlords; (viii) Japan’s invasion of China in 1937, and the mass migration of Chinese to the south and west to escape the Japanese advance; and (ix) the impact of the Sino-Japanese War on Sino-Japanese relations today.
In this course, Professor Yang-Wen Zheng (University of Manchester) explores the history of China from the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) to the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. In the first module, we think about what China was like on the eve of the Japanese invasion of 1937. After that, in the second module, we think about why the Communists won the Chinese Civil War, before turning in the third module to consider the challenges faced by the Communists when they came to power in 1949. In the fourth, fifth and sixth modules, we focus on three distinct periods in the Mao era – (i) the First Five-Year Plan (1953-7); (ii) the Great Leap Forward (1958-62); and (iii) the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) – before turning in the seventh and final module to consider whether life in China was better in 1936 or 1976.
Note on names:
Chinese cities are referred to by their modern names, even if another name was used in the period being discussed, e.g. ‘Guangzhou’ instead of ‘Canton’.
Individual figures are referred to by their most familiar name, e.g. ‘Chiang Kai-shek’ instead of ‘Chiang Chung-cheng’, ‘Chiang Chieh-shih’ or ‘Jiang Jieshi’. Where no familiar form exists, we have followed the usage of Jonathan Fenby’s ‘Penguin History of Modern China’ (2008).
Yangwen Zheng is Professor of Chinese History at the University of Manchester. Born and raised in China, she was educated at Oberlin College and the University of Cambridge, before working at the University of Pennsylvania (2002-04) and the National University of Singapore (2004-06). Trained as an economic historian with a focus on Ming-Qing maritime trade and patterns/cultures of consumption, she has been fascinated with the foreign goods/things that went into China and the ways in which they became Chinese or indigenised. She is the editor (with Richard Madsen of UC San Diego) of the "Alternative Sinology" series published by Manchester University Press and an editorial board member for Modern Asian Studies and for the Journal of Social and Economic History of the Orient. Her recent publications include Ten Lessons in Modern Chinese History (2018).
Cite this Lecture
Zheng, Y. (2020, November 23). China – The Second Sino-Japanese War and Maoist China, 1937-76 - What was China like in 1936? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/china-the-second-sino-japanese-war-and-maoist-china-1937-76/what-was-china-like-in-1936
Zheng, Yangwen. "China – The Second Sino-Japanese War and Maoist China, 1937-76 – What was China like in 1936?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Nov 2020, https://massolit.io/courses/china-the-second-sino-japanese-war-and-maoist-china-1937-76/what-was-china-like-in-1936