Sample Essay on Historical Concepts of China

Question 1

Lu Xun is a Chinese writer who lived in the period 1881 to 1936. He is considered the father of modern Chinese writings that focus on reforming the literature and beliefs of China. Lu Xun criticizes the traditional society in his short story identified as “A Madman’s Diary” written in 1918. In his book, he criticizes the Confucian ideals stating that they are backward and narrow-minded. In his quest for a new age of modernity in China, Lu Xun comes out as the father of children’s literature in his country. The only mechanism that could be utilized in saving China was to produce literature that liberated children from the constraints of Confucianism.

Lu Xun believes that children are the potential saviors of China. In the book “A Madman’s Diary”, Lu Xun portrays how the traditional society is evil and harbors carnivorous consumption of fellow men. The story is an alleged story of a madman who insists vehemently that human beings are eating one another. The madman is, therefore, fearful of everyone he meets up with especially children who he thinks might be sizing him up as potential prey. In fact, the madman goes through some classic Confucian ideals that instruct people to eat one another. Even his brother has been sneaking human flesh to him in his food secretly thereby making him culpable. It is a sorry state of the society that has taken root deeply thus initiating children automatically into it. However, the madman thinks to himself that there might be hope especially if some children have not yet tasted human flesh. Even though he is also lost in this tradition of cannibalism, there is hope. “Save the children,” he states affirmatively that this is the only means of salvation for the Chinese people.

The story is well thought out to be a call to action for the local populace. It is a call to save the nation from the cannibalism supported by traditional doctrines. The initial step towards salvation is through the creation of children’s literature and an education system that guides them through an enlightened view of life. This, in the future, will have an effect of changing the value systems of the Chinese. Lu Xun’s story concedes that Confucian cannibalistic tradition is gobbling up everybody in the society including children. It mainly draws attention towards children who have been consumed by the culture. Lu Xun demonstrates how children need to be saved and protected from the cannibalistic Confucian tradition. When children are exposed to a contemporary approach of life that promotes respect for fellow men and a better way of living that is not dictatorial, then there is hope for the Chinese society.

Question 2

Semi colonialism is a term that is used to describe states that have been penetrated by imperial trade capital and political influence. Even though the penetration has taken place, these particular countries maintain their judicial independence. When imperialists attacked these nations, they utilized certain aspects to determine whether it was safe enough for them to retain their perceived independence. For instance, the strength of their indigenous states, cultural, military resistance, lack of desirable resources and geographical remoteness. China found itself in this condition after the 1840 Opium War. Britain, France, and Japan also launched other wars in China that forced its leaders into signing treaties that effectively made it a sub-colony divided into distinct dynasties controlled by different imperialists.

Semi-colonialism had significant influence in China. The coming of the imperial powers essentially reduced the adverse effects of the feudal system. The feudal system had lasted for almost 3,000 years and had adverse effects on the nation as a whole. In the feudal system, a self-sufficient natural economy predominated. The peasants in the society produced both agricultural and handicraft materials that were needed. The land they produced these commodities in did not belong to them rather to the nobility. The nobility used this platform to extort land rent and other tributes that were aimed at funding their luxuries and the army. It was a feudal exploitation mechanism that was supported by a landlord state. The system in place ensured that the rich became richer while the poor remained behind with no wealth to accumulate. China’s economy, culture, and politics developed at a very sluggish rate during this time.

The coming of the imperialists opened up the economy to external trade and a more capitalistic approach towards the economy. Even though the treaties that were signed between Chinese leaders and the imperialists were unequal, they opened up the market for more trade and, therefore, economic stability. The imperialists controlled most of the resources in the economy thereby ensuring that they fully utilized the raw materials of the country while promoting foreign trade. By opening up the economy, imperialists ensured that the economy could grow steadily economically by gaining foreign exchange and utilizing its raw materials thoroughly. The Chinese economy started experiencing more stable economic growths during this time.

Semi-colonialism also brought with it new social systems that could be emulated by the Chinese in an effort to create a social system that was more appropriate as compared to Confucianism. For instance, Christian based missionaries who challenged the basis of Confucianism taught ethical aspects of modernism. By convincing the local populace to accept a new culture, they improved the cultural systems of the community. Semi-colonialism was quite significant as it ensured that the Chinese government could transition effectively to an independent nation that could govern itself effectively.

Question 5

If I were a radical revolutionary in the 1920s China, I would have joined the Nationalists known as Guomindang. This is because it was the largest republican and revolutionary party at that time. Guomindang, which is also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party, the primary objective was to unify all the people of China and promote a self-government that was created in a republican government. Sun Yat-sen in 1912 formed the party. Yat-sen together with his followers made the party grow, and it became the largest party in both houses of parliament. The autocratic president during that time known as Yuan Shikai declared the party illegal and dissolved it. The Guomindang was forced into exile, and its leaders did not take this action lightly. In an effort to go against such a ruling, they launched a struggle that lasted 15 years, which was meant to reunify China. I support the party because it upheld socialism and wanted to create a government that unified the Chinese regardless of their background. The Guomindang had to develop its National Revolution through the creation of its military army. They were able to achieve reunification by 1927 to 1928 under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek.

The party had been established by literary societies, political clubs, and reform groups. These groups were more active outside China and consisted of expatriates and students. Two key groups that influenced the ideologies were ‘Revive China Society’ and ‘Chinese Revolutionary Alliance’. The former called for the removal of all foreigners from China and the formation of an independent Chinese government that could rule itself. The latter group insisted on overthrowing Manchus and a review of the land reform that could ensure not only the nobles but also subjects land. The two groups were responsible for fueling political nationalism and radicalism in China. In fact, they led to the 1911 revolution that overthrew the Qing. After being declared illegal, the party could not stamp its authority since it did not have any military backing and if it had then it was insufficient.

By the year 1923, Sun Yixian had managed to transform the party into a radical military revolution party that could take over power from what was widely considered as being a dictatorship. The party had converted into an authoritarian outfit that was hungry for power. Their structure was now more disciplined and hierarchical. Sun now commanded the party as ‘Grand Marshall’ and began looking for links that could assist him in reunifying China. With some funding, he was able to create a military republic. The most contentious action that Sun engaged in was in 1923, where he went into an alliance with the Chinese and Russian Communists. Through such support, he united with the Chinese Communist Party therefore unifying the nation and achieving his primary objective.

Question 6

The position of women in the initial half of the twentieth century was still dictated by the ideals of Confucianism and only changed with the onset of communism in 1949. The Confucian teachings encouraged a patriarchal society that urged women to obey their grown sons and husbands. Polygamy was promoted in Confucian teachings, and much emphasis was laid on the importance of lineage. Chinese women were treated as second-class subjects of the emperor. Most women did not have names, and when they got married then they were called by their father or husband’s name. They had no rights in that if at all they wanted to divorce their husbands, it could only be done by express petition of male relatives.

Confucian teachings also encouraged Concubinage,which meant that women could get married to a man but could not be recognized as legal wives. This meant that they were treated differently and were inferior to the legal wife. Furthermore, women were not allowed to school since Confucianism had established that the most obedient women were illiterate. The fashionable practice during the time was foot binding where it was seen as a mark of beauty for women to have small feet. This was practiced by upper-class Chinese women specifically concubines to the nobles and emperor. The women engaging in this would have their feet bound with cloth in order to arrest the development of feet. The practice then spread to lower-class women. The practice was encouraged by Chinese rulers since it restricted the women to their homes. The Confucian teachings limited women to domestic roles and had no leadership roles in the society. They were not permitted to vote since they did not have the prerequisite knowledge needed to choose leaders.

With the onset of communism, women were accorded more rights and privileges in the society. Though the Republican government had abolished polygamy in 1912, it was not implemented until 1949. Furthermore, communism established gender equality and allowed for free marriages instead of arranged ones. Education of women was also encouraged thereby putting in place a system where most women worked in the industries and started looking down on child rearing and household chores. Even though Communism brought with it idealism that promoted better social status for the modern woman, most women in rural areas were still exposed to harsh Confucius practices.