China: A New History by John King Fairbanks

During the early years Han believed that education would strengthen the new upper class. He decided to train all officials in the teachings of Confucianism. These people received written exams in Confucius teachings. Under the Song, education became more important because of the emergence of the printed book. During this era, the government granted land endowments and books to encourage the establishment of schools. During this time, the examination also became more important. The number of officials gaining this status when through examination was increasing dramatically.

In Late Imperial China, the examination was abolished. Also during this era two colleges were established-St. John College and Nanyang College. From 1912-1949 many changes took place within China. Education in areas such as Engineering, technology and commerce began. English textbooks were used in classrooms. American-style institutions began to emerge in the 1920’s and 1930’s. In 1915 scholars in the New Learning began to separate themselves from the government and urged for the separation of scholarship from politics. The CCP’s style of teaching imitated that of the Soviet Union, where people were taught practical sciences. In 1965, Mao searched for ways to teach the common man. He tried to establish work-study schools with simplified teachings, but since these schools were inferior, they did not succeed. So Keypoint Schools were established for the best students and the national exams were reinstated.

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To me, the largest role of education was to get students ready for these exams. Since these exams determined one’s role in society the way in which one prepared for this was extremely important.

Class/social distinctions in China

Throughout history several social classes have emerged in China. During the Song a social structure was developed that lasted until the twentieth century. A person’s social class was determined both by the land they owned and the degree they held. Those who held degrees and owned land made up the highest class, the gentry. These people participated in helping the local authorities maintain order. Those in lower classes were to be loyal to those in this gentry class because of their land-owning and their ability to carry on things such as literature, calligraphy and art.

The other classes were formed due to the jobs in which these people participated. First, there were the merchants. These people conned others into buying things they did not need. The others looked down this class upon because they served no purpose. Next were the artisans. This class crafted things with their hands. They were given more value than the merchants because they had skills. Those in other classes used the things they crafted. The largest class in China was the farmers and peasants. Some of the people in this class were able to own land and were given some value in society.

Throughout history people in China were taught to know their class and by loyal to it and those above them. This can be traced to Confucius teachings. One of the Confucius concepts is “Zhong” which states that the people should be loyal to the state and to people of higher status. Inferior people must follow the direction of or emulate the behavior of the superior person. Because of the Chinese people’s believe in the Confucius teachings, social classes were a big part of the history of the country.

Chinese concept of “reciprocity”

The Chinese concept of reciprocity can be seen throughout Chinese history. In the error of orthodox communism this system was used as a way for common people to obtain things they could not afford, such as the use of an automobile or to obtain theatre tickets. The backbone of this concept is Guanxi, which is the concept in which things are accomplished based on who you know and how that person views their obligation to you. Many Chinese view their relationships as “what’s in it for me.” They do favors for others just to make it so those people are in debt to them. This phenomenon can be traced back to the Confucian values of trust, responsibility and group loyalty. These social groups are bound together by an unwritten law that includes the exchange of favors and gifts. It has also evolved due to the lack of a formal legal system. The Chinese have never put a large emphasis on the laws and have never enforced the laws in a consistent manner.

Today, the idea of reciprocity can make it difficult for a westerner to do business in China. Many Chinese will not do business with a westerner until they have not only developed a relationship, but also until a favor has been completed.

Why the Communists were able to take power in 1949.

The communists were able to take power in 1949 because of “stupidity on the battlefield and incompetence behind the lines.” One of the biggest mistakes the Nationalists made was the loss of support of its people. This loss of support came from poor governing. For example, the economy was on the decline. Inflation was on the rise because the nationalists issued a large amount of notes. Consumer goods were not adequate to meet the needs of the people. Starvation was on the rise throughout the countryside. The government was taxing the common people, but letting those that were wealthy and the local officials go without paying taxes. They also did not pay attention to the large public peace movement. It was clear that the people wanted a shift from warfare to civilian development, but Jiang Jieshi and his Nationalist party marched on.

Jiang Jieshi was also not a competent war leader. He had received weapons and battle advice from the Americans, but followed little of the advice.

The first mistake he made was the overextension of his troops. At the beginning of the war the Nationalists had control of all major cities and rail lines, but since they were overextended the CCP was able to isolate these troops in the cities. They were able to take control of the Northeast quickly by moving into small towns and helping these towns with organization and production. The CCP was also able to draft more troops by treating the locals with respect and helping them build new societies. The CCP attempted to help those people in the rural areas whereas the Nationalists were arrogant and corrupt. They were not trained on how to interact with the population.

The Nationalists were too highly reliant on their equipment. The Americans who provided the equipment had advised the Nationalists to use this equipment to overcome the CCP, but instead they hoarded the planes and tanks as symbols of firepower. When the war began and the CCP started to overcome the Nationalist troops, the best Nationalist troops would surrender with their equipment. This allowed the CCP to obtain large amounts of firepower.

Another way in which Jiang Jieshi failed was his tendency to micromanage. Instead of allowing the local commanders to make decisions as to how their troops would proceed, Jiang Jieshi sent down order to the division level. This also slowed down the process.

Overall Jiang Jieshi and the Nationalists made it easy for the CCP to take control. The CCP had a better attach plan and better social dominance skills than the Nationalists at the time.

Chinese Industrialization

There are several factors that have decreased the speed in which China has industrialized. First, the large population in China effected its industrialization. When the population started to grow significantly there was not a rise in industrialization as one might assume. In Europe and the Western civilizations the rise in population started industrial revolutions, but in China, the rise in population only raised the amount of agricultural production. During the time from 1400 and 1800 when the population was on the rise, the growth of grains in china grew five or six times.

This growth in agriculture was due to the migration of people to more provinces, technological advances as well as capital investment into the growing process. During this time people in China were on the move. They were settling in more remote areas in the central and western parts of the country. The farmers had also found a way to grow more crops per unit of land. They also made investments in irrigation systems and farm tools. Since so many were focusing on the development of agriculture, there were little left to focus their efforts on the industrialization of the country.

Those that did begin to research ways in which China could advance were not respected. From 1860-1900 many began to realize that in order to develop they would have to research and master Western ways of development. Although the realization that the westerners had many machines, tools and weapons that would be useful was there, the Chinese were not willing to accept these ways because they felt “Western sciences borrowed their roots from ancient Chinese mathematics…China invented the method, Westerners adopted it.”

Another big setback to the industrial revolution was the Chinese fear that the entry of things such as railroads, mines and telegraph lines would upset the harmony between man and nature. If this fear was overcome they would also have to go through the highly bureaucratic government to get these things accomplished.

Overall the industrialization of China has been a slow process. The above is only a few factors that played a role in this process.

Roles of the Chinese family.

Throughout history the family in China has been the most important social unit. The role of the Chinese within their families can be linked to Confucius teachings. Confucius emphasized “three bonds”: subject to ruler, children to parents, and wives to husbands.

Based on these teachings one should be loyal to their superior.

In the social institution of the family, the father was the “supreme autocrat.” He had control over the income of the family as control over the other members of the family. He also was in charge of arranging the marriages of his children.

The mother was to be loyal to her husband. Marriages are arranged based on family ties to others, not love. Women were expected to be loyal to their husbands and to their husband’s mothers. She was to do all household chores and could not have an outside job, which left her no economic freedom. Most of the farmwomen were also illiterate and had no property rights.

The family headship was passed from father to eldest son. The female children would have their marriages arranged and would join a new family. Often when a young male and female were married they would move into the home of the male’s parents. This allowed the children, especially the males, to be married but also to continue to support the family. Once married the primary duty of this couple would be to produce a son.

Overall, a person in China knew their role within a family. This role was well defined and in many cases would not change throughout their lives. To male children, this stability brought a sense of security in the knowledge that if they did their part they could expect to be safe in their system.