1. What were the causes of the decline of central authority in China in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?
  2. What was the spark for the "May Fourth Movement"? Into what areas did its momentum carry it beyond the original cause that sparked it? What effects did the movement have on China in later decades?
  3. Explain the reasons why the Soviet Union assisted the Guomindang. What was the primary Soviet interest in China? Why was the Western-leaning, non-communist Sun Yat-sen receptive to Soviet offers of assistance?
  4. What were Sun Yat-sen's "Three Principles of the People"? What was the actual content of each of the principles?
  5. Why did cooperation between the Guomindang and the Communists end so abruptly in 1927?
  6. What were the successes of the Guomindang as the government of China? What were the major obstacles Chiang Kai-shek and his party had to overcome? What were the chief weaknesses in the regime and its program?
  7. What were the reasons for Japan's attack on the Chinese in Manchuria in 1931? What were the results of this incident?
  8. How did the Second World War in Asia contribute to the ultimate victory of the Communist Party in China?
  9. How did Mao Zedong's conception of the role of peasants in revolution differ from that of Lenin and other earlier revolutionaries?
  10. What did Mao mean by calling the Long March of 1934-35 a "seeding machine"?
  11. How did the Chinese Communists win over the peasants of China? How did they differ from the Guomindang in their policies in rural China?
  12. How do you account for the triumph of the Communists in China's civil war despite the initial advantages enjoyed by the Nationalists?
  13. What was the significance (both short-term and long-term) of the Chinese Communist Party's purge of the rural, landholding elite?
  14. What problems did the new People's Republic of China solve in the short term?
  15. Describe the purposes behind the "Great Leap Forward," and explain why it failed to achieve those purposes. What were the actual results of this campaign?
  16. What were the reasons for, and the effects of, China's "Cultural Revolution" of 1966-1976?
  17. How can Mao's changing relationship with Lin Biao be seen as reflecting changes in Mao's approach to the continuing revolution in China?
  18. Explain the reasons for the deterioration of relations between China and the Soviet Union in the late 1950s.
  19. What changes in economic policy were introduced by Deng Xiaoping? How successful were they?
  20. What brought about the massive demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in the spring and summer of 1989? What were the concerns of the demonstrators? How did the 1989 demonstrations differ from other demonstrations in China's history? What resulted from the demonstrations?
  21. Why did China embark on its disastrous attack on Vietnam in 1979?
  22. Why has Taiwan been a source of international tension, and why does it continue to be?
  23. What was the cause of the hyperinflation that plagued China in the 1940s? How did the government of the new People's Republic deal with this problem?
  24. What changes were instituted with the first Five-Year Plan in China? How successful was the plan? What economic policies resulted in stagnation by the 1970s?
  25. Despite their ideological differences, why have economic ties increased between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China?
  26. What do the authors of the text mean in referring to post-1949 social changes in China as "one of the most profound transformations in its entire history"?
  27. Trace the gains and setbacks for women in China since 1949, and the reasons for them.
  28. What real and potential environmental problems does China face in the late 20th century?
  29. What was the contribution of Lu Xun to China's cultural development?
  30. How and why did art and literature in China change after 1949?
  31. What new problems did China face as it reemerged in world affairs in the late twentieth century?
  32. Why did the representatives at the Paris Peace Conference and the League of Nations allow Japan to retain former German holdings it seized in the First World War?
  33. What factors or circumstances encouraged liberal tendencies in Japan following the First World War?
  34. What were the obstacles, external and internal, to the establishment of a genuinely democratic regime in Japan between the two World Wars?
  35. Explain the origins of the idea of a "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere."
  36. What are the remarkable features of the Japanese Constitution of 1946? How was the position of the emperor redefined by this Constitution?
  37. Of the various reforms inaugurated in postwar Japan, which seem to be most successful and which least successful?
  38. What are the distinctive features of the Japanese political system? In what respects is it democratic?
  39. Explain how the LDP was able to stay in power for so long.
  40. How do you account for Japan's phenomenal economic recovery and expansion since 1945? In which fields has Japan achieved greatest success? What outstanding economic problems remain?
  41. "Japan has only one-twentieth as many lawyers per capita as the United States." Why?
  42. What problems--economic, social, or environmental--have accompanied Japan's industrial expansion?
  43. Outline the ways in which Japan's relations with its former enemies and colonies have changed since the end of the Second World War.
  44. What are the bases of the repeated trade disputes between the U.S. and Japan?
  45. Why were the Japanese elections of July 1993 so momentous?
  1. "For the last two hundred years of the modern world, nationalism has been the angel of unity and the devil of despair." Examine how this statement applies to East Asia.
  2. Study Sun Yat-sen's "Three Principles of the People" in detail, noting possible influences on Sun's thinking.
  3. Numerous first-person accounts have been produced in English of life in Mao's China (particularly during the Cultural Revolution). Read and compare two or more of these accounts, and analyze the differences in background, outlook, and experience of the authors. What circumstances affected the way in which the events of the Cultural Revolution affected the different authors?
  4. It has been suggested that Mao was "a good leader who lived too long." What might be meant by such a statement? Do you agree or disagree?
  5. Assess the ongoing efforts in the People's Republic of China to come to terms with the legacy of Mao Zedong. How have changing conditions since Mao's death led to the need for the ruling party to reinterpret his contribution? What aspects of his legacy seem more open to revision than others, and why?
  6. Compare the May Fourth Movement of 1919 with the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989, noting both similarities and differences.
  7. Read, in English translation, Lu Xun's "The True Story of Ah Q," and analyze it as a work condemning problems in the China of Lu Xun's time. What is the focus of the author's critique?
  8. Examine the policies and dynamics of the American occupation in Japan. In particular, analyze ways in which American forces worked with Japanese individuals and institutions.
  9. Study the role of the Japanese emperor in the war, surrender, occupation, and beyond.
  10. Investigate any of the following:
      --The life and work of Sun Yat-sen
      --The career of Chiang Kai-shek
      --Mao Zedong's philosophy of revolution
      --Sino-Soviet relations, 1923 to the present
      --Industrial development in the PRC
      --Educational changes in China
      --The "Cultural Revolution" in China
      --The changing role of women in Japan
      --Changing U.S.-Chinese relations since 1949
      --The rise of militant nationalism in Japan
      --Liberal and antiwar sentiment in Japan during the period 1919-1941
      --Industrial and technological developments in postwar Japan
      --The character and role of political parties in Japan
      --Japanese-American relations since the Occupation
      --Taiwan under Chinese Nationalist rule


W.W. Norton
REVIEW: World Civilizations
Page created by Thomas Pearcy, Ph.D. and Mary Dickson.
Direct questions or comments to Webmaster.
Last revised April 1, 1997
Copyright (c) 1997. W. W. Norton Publishing. All Rights Reserved