Five Questions Facing China Today

In this unit, students will apply their previous learning to evaluate the pressing problems posed by the following five questions. Students will use the academic tools developed throughout the year such as essay-writing, discussion and presentations in a variety of circumstances to engage these fundamental questions.

1. China's Progress: The image of ancient China as the birthplace of many social, technological and agricultural innovations is commonly held. China is also seen as losing its drive for advancement at the same time that the West assumed the forefront of progress. In the new century, what indication is there of a renewed energy devoted to innovation in Chinese society? How will progress in innovation affect Chinese society?

2. A Single China: Given the longevity of the Chinese state and the ever-increasing population of the country, to what degree are groups defined by ethnicity, socio-economics, language and social philosophy assimilated into a homogeneous national identity?

3. China's Heritage: Following 1905 China embarked on a new road, instituting first republican, then socialist structures of government, seeming to repudiate its long imperial and Confucian heritage. Have these movements significantly altered Chinese social, economic and political structures? What does China's experience with these political systems infer for future developments in China?

4. The China Problem: No matter what discussion one has about China, population poses a staggering problem. While only 12% of China's land is arable, it must support a population of 1.2 billion people. Given China's limited resources, how can this country avoid a Malthusian economic crisis?

5. China and the World: China's relationship with other nations of the world has always been complicated. What is the current status of China in world political affairs and what roles might China assume in future events? How does the unique relationship between the United States and China reflect the historic interactions between the two countries and in what direction might the current state of affairs lead?

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