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Is an increasingly powerful China a threat to the world today? The current Chinese government is fond of saying that throughout history China has always been a peace-loving country. Yet, there are many around the world who view “China’s rise” with alarm. What then is the “truth”? To answer this question and to understand how China got to where it is today and where it might be heading, it is vital to have a sound knowledge of its long, complex, and often turbulent history.

It is the objective of this course to help you to gain that knowledge. Its aim is not to provide a comprehensive survey; one cannot do justice to over three millennia of recorded history within the span of a single semester. Instead, the course will highlight some of the most interesting, important and controversial episodes and themes in Chinese history, and introduce you to the different political, social, economic and cultural forces that shaped China as an identifiable political and cultural entity. By emphasizing the processes through which the country we know as “China” today evolved throughout its history, not in isolation – as is often believed – but through consistent interaction with other groups outside its initial political and cultural borders, this course will provide you with the necessary historical knowledge to better understand and evaluate the impact of a new global China in the twenty-first century and beyond. HS, BN.