Presentation on
Chinese History
Andrew Morris
History Department
3 November 2006
“This is Shanghai, a big city on Chinese soil.
How dare you call us Communist China.
Communist China has become history.
Such a term no longer exists.”
– PRC Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan,
to Taiwanese reporter,
2001 APEC Meeting, Shanghai
“The Slumbering Red Giant”?
• Western obsession/ fantasy that China
has to “catch up” to superior West
• Chinese certainty that the Middle
Kingdom’s 2000 years of economic/
cultural/political superiority is more
historically authentic than USA’s 60 years
as #1
“Foreign languages and
Shakespeare will be taught at
Cal Poly over my dead body.”
– unnamed Cal Poly President,
The Grand Canal
Built 7th century
(Sui Dynasty),
1200 miles long
A “wonder of the
world” to
Europeans 1000
years later …
The Cosmopolitan Tang Dynasty:
• Cosmopolitan city of 1 million – world
center of politics, culture, learning
• Multiethnic cities: capital, Guangzhou
• Influenced by Central Asia
• Influence spreading all over Eurasia
• (1000 years later, the biggest European
cities have population of 100,000)
Example: Religious Diversity
“Modern China” and
the Song Dynasty (960-1279)
• Problematize notion that “modern” = Western
• Emergence and growth of middle classes –
social mobility:
• Merchant power: chambers of commerce,
foreign sea trade
• Emergence of industry
• Money economy (incl. paper money)
• Expansion of exam system
• Social legislation by state and Buddhists
• Invention of paper money:
~700 years before it
appears in Europe in late
17th c.
• National credit market
• Yearly trade in capital
Kaifeng, 11th c. = 50%
more than London trade
18th c.
• 11th c. industry not
matched by any European
state until the 18th century
Military Technology
• (At right) Composite
crossbow from Song –
some are mounted and
operated by 100 men
• [By the 2nd century BCE
the Han Dynasty had
fashioned long-range
repeater crossbows with
trigger mechanisms on
rotating bases]
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
The Yongle Emperor, Beijing and the
return of the Middle Kingdom
Zheng He (鄭和, 1371-1433)
Muslim, eunuch, admiral
(Ma Sanbao, Hajji Mahmud)
Zheng He’s Ming Armada
“Treasure Ships”:
440 feet in length, 2500 tons capacity
Zheng He’s Ming Armada
• Seven voyages: 1405-1433
• First fleet: 317 ships, including 62 in
Treasure Ship class
• Smaller ships range down to 200 feet
• (Spanish Armada 1588 has 137 ships,
7 of 1000 ton burden)
• Manufacture causes great deforestation up
Yangzi Valley
The Tributary System
Recognition of “Middle Kingdom” = TRADE!
1960s: Maoist version of the “Middle Kingdom”
(2000s-: Global capitalist version …)
Power of the High Qing
(late 17th – early 19th c.)
“Everything which the people need for their
well-being and sustenance, whether it be
for food or clothing or even delicacies and
superfluities, is abundantly produced
within the borders of the kingdom and not
imported from foreign climes.”
- 17th-century European assessment of
Chinese wealth and self-sufficiency
The Opium War
Resulting hostility
towards West, not
Feng Guifen - “There
is only one thing to
learn from the
barbarians, and
that is strong ships
and effective guns.”
The Rise of Market-Leninism
“Mao offers you enterprise management tips you can’t
get from any other business studies, especially
Western ones.”
– China Business (2003)
“Acclaim from the leader is a
great source of affirmation and
identification for the lower levels.”
– Mao Zedong Teaches us About
Personnel Matters (2003)
“The books can help enable someone seeking selfimprovement to learn from a person who has already
notched up such great success.”
– Central Party History Publishing House, 2003
Cui Jian
“The Elvis, Beatles,
Dylan, Springsteen
and Cobain of China”
“Eggs Under the Red Flag”
The red flag’s still aflutter
But there’s no fixed direction
The revolution still continues
The old men have still more power
Money flutters in the air
We have no ideals
Although the air is clear
We can’t see any further
My stomach is full now
My brain is clear now too
But don’t say this is a great favor
It can never be repaid
We are no longer pawns in a chess game
Following lines drawn by others
We try standing up ourselves
Get moving and take a look at everything
“The Two Wangs,” April 2001
Wang Zhizhi,
China’s first NBA
Wang Wei,
pilot of downed fighter jet
that collided with EP-3
spy plane
Zheng He, Part 2:
Mythology, Nationalism
(and Profit)
“The Workshop of the World”
• Manufactures two thirds of the world’s copiers,
microwave ovens, DVD players and shoes
• World’s largest producer of coal, steel, cement
• 2nd largest consumer of energy
• 3rd largest importer of oil
• Exports to US have grown by 1,600 percent over the
past 15 years
• 2004 exported $18 billion worth of goods to WalMart (China has 5,000 of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 suppliers)
• Intel Science and Engineering Fair, 2004:
Americans participating: 65,000
Chinese participating: 6 million
“The Great Mall of China”
“1 billion souls to save; 2 billion armpits to deodorize”
Profit = Democracy?
Or Profit vs. Democracy?
“Our continued engagement with China is
the best (and perhaps only) way for Google
to help bring the tremendous benefits of
universal access to all our users there.”
– Google, 2006
“One could walk away. But that would also
be turning our back on the problem.”
– Microsoft, 2006
Opinions / Spin
• "Perhaps we have to look again at our presence
there. We have to decide if the persecuting of
bloggers reaches a point that it's unacceptable to
do business there. We try to define those levels
and the trends are not good there at the
moment." - Microsoft Senior Policy Counsel Fred
Tipson, 2 November 2006
• Anriette Esterhuysen, Executive Director of
Association for Progressive Communications:
Corporations should not be made responsible
for securing freedoms. Instead, government
should enforce ethical policies on companies
who do business with foreign governments.
Taiwan: The Renegade Province
• Facing 700+ nucleartipped PRC missiles
• 2006: PRC military
budget increased by
14.7% (to US$35.3
billion) - because of
efforts of “Taiwanese
secessionist forces”
What’s at stake with Taiwan?
• (Recent panda politics)
• PRC’s historical
supremacy & legacy
• “Domino effect” –
Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner
• Japanese, US influence
BRAIN FAILURE: "Listen To My Back"
That's what i know i'm eating a hotpot listen
to the people behind talking talking five
brothers on a table one guy says he has
another brother been five years in jail and
two years junk he's clean now but what he
gonna do all he knows is he wants some
money he wants some money yeah that's
what i know
i'm eating a hotpot listen to the people
behind talking talking it’s my kind of favorite
just like you love to watch the peepshow
yeah maybe in a 1920 Buick maybe in the 90s
fast food maybe in the KFC 2nd av. 14th st.
that's what i feel
i'm eating a hotpot listen to the people
behind talking talking five brothers on a
table one guy says he has another brother
they maybe all fucking gangs they maybe all
fucking cops i don't know if this place is safe
west shop 300 lets go go go that's what i feel
that's what i know!
Century as
“The Chinese Century”?
Ted Fishman, 2005
Sun Yat-sen, 1912

Slide 1