Published : The economist; economist.com
Level of difficulty.***
This brilliant overview of the period of Chinese history starting from the late 19th century and ending with changes Deng made to the form of government gives students a glimpse into the history of a nation they know little about. I discovered it in the September 1999 issue of The Economist (economist.com). 20th century history is a firm favorite with students, which suits me too as I would like to try and broaden the students’ horizons while trying to teach them English. As usual, due to copyright issues, you will have to access the text yourselves should you wish to use it. It is suggested that you deal with any other vocabulary while working through the text.
1. Find a single word meaning “to declare” in paragraph 1.
2. What two factors made China the world’s biggest economy in the past and will probably ensure it a similar rank between 2000 and 2010?
3. What two mistakes is China accused of making in the 19th century?
4. What were the two results of the above mistakes? Economic……………………………………..Political…………………………………………………………………….
5. Now try and explain in your own words what “internal strife”( p.4, line 3) and “successive” (p.4, line 4) mean?
6. What was the result for China of not importing technology, not establishing the rule of law, not letting farmers make enough money to buy consumer goods and fostering war?
7. What does “it” in the phrase “Japan used it…” paragraph 6 and “Those last two actions” in the last sentence of the same paragraph refer to?
8. In what respects are the actions of The Japanese army, Chang-Kai-shek’s Kuomintang and Mao Zetong’s communist party similar?
9. What was the reason for Mao’s policy of isolation?
10. What exactly was Western sympathy for Mao due to?
11. What does “This” in the phrase “This helped cover up…” at the beginning of paragraph 10 refer to?
12. What was John King Fairbank referring to when he used the phrase “a modern form of serfdom”?
13. What, exactly, was the reason for the devastating famine in China due to? (Be explicit)
14. In paragraph 11, first find a word meaning “horrible and disgusting” then find a word meaning “hurt”.
15. What, exactly, does”this horrific estimate” in paragraph 12 refer to?
16. What were the reasons for the economic growth under Mao? Why then did Deng turn to capitalism?
17. Deng’s reforms are summarized in paragraph 14. Under what heading can we gather them?
18. Why, exactly, did Japan prosper after 1860?
19. What word can you substitute for “dispersal” p.17, line 5,6?
20. What does “That” at the beginning of paragraph 18 refer to?
21. In paragraph 18, the writer says “As and when this – or a subsequent – crisis worsens, there will be nobody to blame but the party”. How does the writer support this statement?
22. What exactly does the phrase “Such an authoritarian approach” at the beginning of paragraph 21 refer to?
23. What does “it” in the phrase “it just might” in the last paragraph refer to?
24. Why does the attitude of some Westerners concerning communism seem contradictory?
THE LAST EMPERORS / KEY
2. Early technical advances; the size of the country’s population
3. Its rulers were bureaucrats whose highly centralized often arbitrary rule prevented much of a merchant or entrepreneurial class from emerging / China tried to keep foreigners at bay
4. Civil war (or internal strife), successive military defeats, declining income per head.
5. Social upheavals or civil war; one after the other
6. China could not narrow the gap with rich countries standard of living.
7. China; seizing the rest of Manchuria in 1931 and full scale invasion of China in 1937.
8. They slaughtered millions
9. Foreign power had caused mayhem
10. The romantic idea of Mao’s long marches…
11. The fact that Mao began with a lot of idealistic supporters…/ It served to cover up an initial slaughter of…. as well as dissent about…
12. The huge communal units
13. The mass mobilization of rural labour to build…/ fewer people to work the fields/ grain grabbed for towns
14. Grisly/ Scarred
15. The fact that there were 35m. deaths in thirty years ( Or, 6% of 545m. were killed)
16. Peace, law and order, Stalinist technology, Stalinist organization / China was getting weaker and poorer and struggling to feed its growing population
17. Economists’ prescriptions about how the poor countries could catch up ( Or, Capitalism)
18. It had the rule of law, capitalism and an economy fairly open to trade.
20. Democracy would eventually suggest itself…
21. What people in such circumstances are demanding is accountability, and the richer they get, the more they want it; so that they can protect their gains against mismanagement and confiscation.
22. An adapted form of dictatorship
23. Communitarian politics
24. Because they are willing to believe that the freedoms they desire for themselves are not necessary or desirable for people in poor countries