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China Study Guide

Use this study guide, notes, homework and the book to study for the test. This is only a short guide to help direct your focus on what material will be covered on the test.

Know the following terms:


Filial piety

Mandate of Heaven

Dynastic Cycle


Sphere of Influence


Boxer Rebellion

Taiping Rebellion

Totalitarian state


Karl Marx



Responsibility system

Four Modernizations

Red Guards

Cultural Revolution

Great Leap Forward

Joint Family

The majority of China’s population lives in the heartland region in eastern China.

The Huang He (Yellow River) contains loess which makes the river appear yellow.


Founded by Confucius

His teachings are recorded in the Analects.

Believed in filial piety and that education was very important.

Confucius’ five relationships

  1. Ruler and ruled

  2. Father and son

  3. Older brother and younger brother

  4. Husband and wife

  5. friend and friend


Founded by Lao Zi

Believed that there was a link between people and nature.

The best way to live is the natural way.

Dao means “the way”

The less laws society has the better. Let nature run its course.


Founded by Han Feizi

Believed that people act out of self-interest.

A strong ruler and strict laws are needed for society.

Social Classes

Age, Sex, occupation, and education all affect a person’s status. The young are expected to respect their elders (filial piety) and women were viewed as inferior to men.

Gentry – Minority of China’s population, wealthy, educated, landowners, worked for the government, preformed no physical labor and grew their fingernails as proof.

Peasants – Majority of China’s population, were farmers or preformed other manual labor jobs, usually did not own land.

Merchants – The lowest social class not because they were poor, but because they made their living by profiting off of other people’s work.
There was social mobility. Get a good education, take the civil service exam, and then work for the government. China was a patriarchal society that practiced arranged marriages. Women were valued for the work they could do and the children that they could bare. Lived with their joint family and the wife obeyed the husband’s mother. (She could teach her how to become a good wife.) Practiced foot binding which kept a woman’s foot from growing in order to make her more attractive.
First Empire

Shi Huangdi was the emperor

Legalist empire

Built the great wall

Han Empire

Emperor Liu Bang

Restored Confucianism

Expanded trade and started the civil service exam system

Tang and Song

“Golden Ages” – Economy prospered, the arts flourished, and there was little war


Kublai Khan was the ruler.

Tried to push Mongol culture into China

The last dynasty of China

Europeans begin to trade with the Chinese (They given only a few ports to trade out of and are considered to be inferior to the Chinese.)

The British saw the dynasty weakening and in the late 1700’s the British begin to refuse to kowtow and want to become equal trading partners with the Chinese.

Opium War

The British begin to sell opium produced in India to the Chinese

Most of China becomes addicted to opium

China passes harsh laws regarding the selling and usage of opium

Chinese destroy a shipment of Opium which starts the Opium War
British win the Opium war because they have superior weapons and ships thanks to the industrial revolution
The Treaty of Nanjing ends the Opium War and says that the Chinese must pay for the Opium they destroyed, the British get the rights to Hong Kong and all Chinese ports become open to trade.
Taiping Rebellion

Peasant uprising that lasts 14 years

Over 20 million people are killed
Boxer Rebellion

The Fists of Righteous Harmony (boxers) do not like the British and other Europeans living in China. They want to expel all foreigners and foreign ideas from China and begin to terrorize all foreigners and Chinese people who believe in western values (for example Christianity). The west gets together and creates an international army to crush the boxers.

1911 China declares itself a republic - Once China is a republic you have two main groups fighting for power – the Nationalists and the Communists
Long march - The Communists flee from the Nationalists in order to survive. The Communists march 6,000 miles and over 80,000 Communists die. While the Communists and the Nationalists are fighting World War II begins and the Japanese invade China. The Nationalists and Communists put their differences aside for a little in order to drive the Japanese out of China. Once the Japanese are gone the Communists are the strongest party in China.
Communist China

Mao Zedong becomes the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China.

Mao studies Karl Marx’s work and uses his ideas to win over the peasants (proletariats)

He promises a better life for the poor, a modernized economy, and to restore China back to the world power that it once was.

Land Reform

Mao takes the land away from the rich and gives it to the poor. (Eventually he claims it for the government and allows the people to work on it.)

Farmers would receive a small amount of their harvest and the rest of the crops would go to the government.

The Great Leap Forward

Mao’s effort to modernize China. He sets up communes where the people are stripped of their freedom and everyone is viewed as equal. Citizens of the communes were given jobs such as farming, building bridges, schools, etc. in order to modernize China. The drawback was that there were less crops being produced and famine strikes China and millions of people die. Some people start to question Mao and Communism.

Cultural Revolution

Mao wants to silence the people who are questioning him and urges people to root out capitalists. Mao’s supporters organize the Red Guard which terrorizes China.

Schools are closed and production slows down. In 1969 the Chinese army sends the Red Guard to far away rural areas.

Mao dies in 1976 and in 1978 Deng Xiaoping becomes the leader of China.

Xiaoping keeps China Communist although he makes some changes and has four main goals for China known as the Four Modernizations.
Four Modernizations

Modernizing agriculture

Expanding industry

Developing science and technology

Upgrade China’s defense forces
Responsibility System

Each farming family was responsible for making its own living.

The government leased land to the family who must sell a certain amount of crops to the government for a set price. The surplus of crops could be sold on the open market.
Special Economic Zones

Set up SEZ in southeast China to attract foreign companies. Foreign companies were given tax benefits and small villages turned into large cities.

Tiananmen Square

1989 students gathered in Beijing to demand political freedom. The government lets this go for a while, but then when the demonstrations begin to grow the government ordered the students to go home. When they did not the army opened fire on the protestors. This event was witnessed by the world and called attention to the mistreatment China’s citizens.

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