Chinese History in 20 Minutes - A Summary History of China

Chinese History in 20 Minutes - A Summary History of China

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This is a very interesting video: Chinese History in 20 Minutes (actually, it is less than 18 minutes long). This may seem impossibly brief but the information is accurate and the story is told concisely but really very well. It is not so much a video as a series of images with voice over. The pronunciations of the Chinese names would be especially useful for anyone having to do an oral report for school or work.

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Get your free guide - The 10 Biggest Mistakes Beginners in Chinese Make ...and How You Can Avoid Them
This video is a brief summary introduction to the history of China in less than 20 minutes. Do you think Chinese history is long and complicated? I've broken down the important events into one outline. Hope you like it!

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The End of History -- 20 Years Later

November 9 will mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led Francis Fukuyama to famously declare "the end of history" in an essay in the National Interest and later in a book titled The End of History and the Last Man.

Twenty years on, what does Fukuyama think about where history has gone since? I asked him for the Global Viewpoint Network. Here is the interview as a week of commemoration opens in Berlin:

Nathan Gardels: In 1989, you wrote an essay, later developed into a book, that stated your famous "end of history" thesis. You said then:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

What mostly holds up in your thesis 20 years on? What doesn't? What changed?

Francis Fukuyama: The basic point -- that liberal democracy is the final form of government -- is still basically right. Obviously there are alternatives out there, like the Islamic Republic of Iran or Chinese authoritarianism. But I don't think that all that many people are persuaded these are higher forms of civilization than what exists in Europe, the United States, Japan or other developed democracies societies that provide their citizens with a higher level of prosperity and personal freedom.

The issue is not whether liberal democracy is a perfect system, or whether capitalism doesn't have problems. After all, we've been thrown into this huge global recession because of the failure of unregulated markets. The real question is whether any other system of governance has emerged in the last 20 years that challenges this. The answer remains no.

Now, that essay was written in the winter of 1988-89 just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I wrote it then because I thought that the pessimism about civilization that we had developed as a result of the terrible 20th century, with its genocides, gulags and world wars, was actually not the whole picture at all. In fact, there were a lot of positive trends going on in the world, including the spread of democracy where there had been dictatorship. Sam Huntington called this "the third wave."

It began in southern Europe in the 1970s with Spain and Portugal turning to democracy. Then and later you had an ending of virtually all the dictatorships in Latin America, except for Cuba. And then there was collapse of the Berlin Wall and the opening of Eastern Europe. Beyond that, democracy displaced authoritarian regimes in South Korea and Taiwan. We went from 80 democracies in the early 1970s to 130 or 140 20 years later.

Of course, this hasn't all held up since then. We see today a kind of democratic recession. There have been reversals in important countries like Russia, where we see the return of a nasty authoritarian system without rule of law, or in Venezuela and some other Latin American countries with populist regimes.

Clearly, that big surge toward democracy went as far as it could. Now there is a backlash against it in some places. But that doesn't mean the larger trend is not still toward democracy.

Gardels: The main contending argument against the "end of history" was offered by Sam Huntington. Far from ideological convergence, he argued, we were facing a "clash of civilizations" in which culture and religion would be the main points of conflict after the Cold War. For many, 9/11 and its aftermath confirmed his thesis of a clash between Islam and the West. To what extent was his argument valid?

Fukuyama: The differences between Huntington and I have been somewhat overstated. I wrote a book called Trust in which I argue that culture is one of the key factors that determines economic success and the possibilities of prosperity. So I don't deny the critical role of culture. But, overall, the question is whether cultural characteristics are so rooted that there is no chance of universal values or a convergence of values. That is where I disagree.

Huntington's argument was that democracy, individualism and human rights are not universal, but reflections of culture rooted in Western Christendom. While that is true historically, these values have grown beyond their origins. They've been adopted by societies that come out of very different cultural traditions. Look at Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia.

Societies rooted in different cultural origins come to accept these values not because the U.S. does it, but because it works for them. It provides a mechanism for government accountability. It provides societies with a way to get rid of bad leaders when things go wrong. That is a huge advantage of democratic societies that someplace like China doesn't have. China, at the moment, is blessed with competent leaders. But before that they had Mao. There is nothing to prevent another Mao in the future without some form of democratic accountability.

Problems of corruption or poor governance are much easier to solve if you have a democracy. For enduring prosperity and success, institutionalized, legal mechanisms of change and accountability are essential.

Gardels: In an earlier book, Political Order in Changing Societies, Huntington argued that Westernization and modernization were not identical. He thought modernization -- an effective state, urbanization, breakdown of primary kinship groups, inclusive levels of education, market economies and a growing middle class -- were quite possible without a society becoming Western in terms of a liberal secular culture or democratic norms.

We see this today from Singapore to China, from Turkey to Malaysia and even Iran. Any observant visitor to China these days can see that beneath the logos of Hyatt and Citigroup the soul of old Confucius is stirring, with its authoritarian bent. In Turkey, we see an Islamist-rooted party running a secular state, battling to allow women to wear headscarves in public universities.

In other words, isn't "non-Western modernization" as likely a path ahead as Westernization through globalization?

Fukuyama: For me, there are three key components of political modernization. First, the modernization of the state as a stable, effective, impersonal institution that can enforce rules across complex societies. This was Huntington's focus. But there are two other components of modernization in my view. Second, the rule of law so that the state itself is constrained in it actions by a pre-existing body of law that is sovereign. In other words, a ruler or ruling party cannot just do whatever he or it decides. Third is some form of accountability of the powers that be.

Huntington would have said that rule of law and accountability are Western values. I think they are values toward which non-Western societies are converging because of their own experience. You can't have true modernization without them. They are in fact necessary complements to each other. If you have just political modernization defined as a competent state, you may only have a more effective form of tyranny.

What you can certainly have is effective state building and a certain amount of prosperity under authoritarian conditions for a time. That is what the Chinese are doing right now. But I am convinced that their prosperity cannot in the end endure, nor can Chinese citizens ever be secure in their personal progress, without the rule of law and accountability. They can't go to the next stage without all three components that comprise modernization.

Corruption and questionable legitimacy will ultimately weigh them down, if not open unrest.

Gardels: Modernization has usually also meant the growing secularization of society and the primacy of science and reason. Yet, in a place like Turkey today, as I mentioned, we see modernization and growing religiosity side by side. That certainly departs from the Western-oriented trajectory charted by Ataturk.

Fukuyama: I agree. The old version of the idea modernization was Euro-centric, reflecting Europe's own development. That did contain attributes which sought to define modernization in a quite narrow way. Most importantly, as you point out, religion and modernization certainly can coexist. Secularism is not a condition of modernity. You don't have to travel to Turkey to see that. It is true in the United States, which is a very religious society but in which advanced science and technological innovation thrive.

The old assumption that religion would disappear and be replaced solely by secular, scientific rationalism is not going to happen.

At the same time, I don't believe the existence, or even prevalence of cultural attributes, including religion, are so overwhelming anywhere that you will not see a universal convergence toward rule of law and accountability.

Gardels: Still, must accountability entail the same democratic, electoral norms of Europe or the United States?

Fukuyama: You can have non-electoral accountability through moral education which forges a sense of moral obligation by the ruler. Traditional Confucianism, after all, taught the emperor that he had a duty to his subjects as well as himself. It is not an accident that the most successful authoritarian modernization experiments have all been in East Asian societies touched by Confucianism.

In the end, though, that is not enough. You cannot solve the problem of the "bad emperor" through moral suasion. And China has had some pretty bad emperors over the centuries. Without procedural accountability, you can never establish real accountability.

Gardels: Some top Chinese intellectuals today argue that when China arises again as the superior civilization in a post-American world, the "tired" global debate over autocracy vs. democracy will yield to a more pragmatic debate over good governance vs. bad governance. I doubt you would agree.

Fukuyama: You are right, I don't believe that. You simply can't get good governance without democratic accountability. It is a risky illusion to believe otherwise.


Timeline of China Development

Below is a simplified timeline of China’s development starting in the late 1990s.

  • 1997:Hong Kong is anti-climatically returned to China.
  • 1997: US President Bill Clinton hosts a state dinner for Jiang Zemin, marking the first visit to the US by a Chinese head of state in twelve years.
  • 1999:Macau reverts to Chinese rule after 450 years under Portuguese rule. In 2006, Macau—with about US$7 billion in annual gambling revenue—surpasses Las Vegas in the world’s top gambling market (you know Asians love to gamble!).
  • 1999:The Falun Gong movement stages a huge rally in Tiananmen Square—some 10,000 members sit-in and demand an end to official criticism of the group. Founded in 1992, the FG—with central tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance— is an apolitical, spiritual group that performs meditative qigong breathing exercises. The movement is energetically suppressed after being classified as a xiejiao (“evil cult”) and made illegal. Several thousand are reportedly detained in prison camps. (The crackdown is perhaps less surprising given China’s long history of secret societies, particularly a movement that had a committed, widespread, and multi-class membership in the millions).
  • 2001: After the 9/11 attacks, a rare state accord is reached by the US, China and Russia—each with a vested interest in combating the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism in Central Asia.
  • 2001: China is admitted into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • 2003: SARS outbreak in Hong Kong and Guangdong province.
  • 2003: Hu Jintao succeeds Jiang Zemin as the President of the PRC.
  • 2004: China signs a landmark trade agreement with 10 Southeast Asian countries, which could eventually unite 25% of the world’s population in a free-trade zone.
  • 2005: Sparked by a Japanese textbook which China says glosses over Japan’s World War II record, Sino-Japanese relations sour amid sometimes-violent anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities.
  • 2005: China and Russia hold their first-ever joint military exercises.
  • 2007: China flexes it muscles in space with an exercise in which it shot down one of its own old weather satellites. The move is seen by the Pentagon as a potential threat to America’s communication systems and military (In recent years, the PRC started a program to build aircraft carriers and modernize its fleet).
  • 2007: China offers resource-rich Africa triple the aid that the continent got from Western nations. That year’s summit of the African Development Bank was held in the most un-African location: Shanghai.
  • 2007: China passes the US as biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (though still far behind in terms of per capita emissions).
  • 2007: New labor laws are introduced after hundreds of men and boys were discovered working as slaves in brick factories.
  • 2007: Food and drug scandals spark international fears about the safety of Chinese exports. China’s food and drug agency chief is executed for taking bribes.
  • 2008: New Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou (KMT, which has evolved to be the pro-China party) warms relations with China. Direct flights are established, Taiwan is opened to Chinese tourists, and restrictions are eased on Taiwan investment in China. Many pro-independence Taiwanese (DPP party) are angered by the moves.
  • 2008: The Tibet unrest (known in China as the “three-fourteen riots”) is suppressed by Chinese riot police. Death toll estimates vary widely (several dozen likely killed, including Chinese civilians, Tibetans and police).
  • 2008: Sichuan province earthquake (death toll around 70,000)
  • 2008: China hosts the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Meanwhile, a 2008 Gallup poll revealed that 40% of Americans considered China to be the world’s leading economic power (with only 33% choosing their own country).

  • 2008: Over 50,000 Chinese children get sick after drinking tainted milk, leading Premier Wen Jiabao to apologize for the scandal.
  • 2009: Scores of people are killed and hundreds injured in the worst ethnic violence in decades as a protest in the restive Xinjiang region turns violent.
  • 2009: China executes British citizen Akmal Shaikh for drug smuggling, despite pleas for clemency from the British government.
  • 2009: China becomes the world’s largest automobile market
  • 2010:China overtakes Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy.
  • 2010: In response to alleged cyber-attacks on e-mail accounts of human rights activists, Google ends its compliance with Chinese internet censorship and starts re-directing web searches to Google Hong Kong (forcing foreign travelers to use a VPN in China to access blocked content).
  • 2010: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights activist who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009. Three weeks later, China announces it’s own peace prize, the “Confucius Peace Prize” (awarded to Lien Chan, Taiwan’s former vice president of the KMT).
  • Jan 2011: US President Obama hosts Hu Jintao–the first full “state dinner” for a Chinese head of state since 1997.

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A History of China

Wolfram Eberhard&aposs "A History of China" is the first (and only, thus far) historical work on China that I&aposve read- and being that I knew nothing of China&aposs history before starting this, my expectations weren&apost very high. Let me first announce that this particular volume can be read for free, either through Project Gutenberg or on the Amazon Kindle marketplace (though one version costs some money, and it includes the images that Eberhard used which are not in the free edition. go figure). That Wolfram Eberhard's "A History of China" is the first (and only, thus far) historical work on China that I've read- and being that I knew nothing of China's history before starting this, my expectations weren't very high. Let me first announce that this particular volume can be read for free, either through Project Gutenberg or on the Amazon Kindle marketplace (though one version costs some money, and it includes the images that Eberhard used which are not in the free edition. go figure). That being the case, I think people should really take advantage of it. Why go in search of a two hundred dollar textbook when there are free documents for the taking? I digress.

China's history is a long one. A LONG one. And it's very confusing. I lost count of the number of Dynasties, the number of civil wars, and the number of troubles associated with these numerous changes. I guess that goes without saying, and I've had the fortune (or misfortune) of being born into a country with a short history of just over three hundred years. It's no surprise, then, that I know more American history than anything else. My point being that even after finishing this particular book, I still don't really have a grasp on China's history. I don't blame the author I think that I need to investigate further resources. Truly, Eberhard crafted a fairly stable history. He covers an obnoxious amount of time in a fairly small amount of pages, and yet still manages to touch upon the most important factors and explain them well enough for a new student of Chinese history to grasp and understand. What I found most interesting is the fact that there is really no sense of bias in these pages, especially considering the fact that this book is quite dated. Eberhard may be a westerner, but his perspective as a historian embraces eastern ideology as a credible one. His knowledge of Chinese culture is, apparently, vast, and he manages to use it to his advantage while examining the tumultuous changes in China's history. This is relevant, of course, for every nation across the globe has evolved at its own singular rate and, despite sharing many similarities with its cousins, is bound to look a bit differently from the outside when all is "said and done." I'm speaking, of course, of socialism. I do not doubt that some western historians may claim at some point that China is heading in "the wrong direction." And yet a careful analysis of China's past may lead the reader to realize that things truly aren't ever so different. Did the Chinese peasant suffer under the tyranny of its aristocratic rulers? Certainly. Don't to sound like a Marxist, but the more history I come to read, the more I realize that the struggle of the proletariat really IS the common theme of history across the globe. It's extraordinary, really, that capitalism has continued to thrive in as many countries as it does today.

Sorry for the political tangent. Anyway, Eberhard's history is a decent starting point for a student of Chinese history, and one could even argue that this is more of a "social history" of China than otherwise, which will delight those interested in cultural studies. There's quite a deal of talk on the arts, literature, and the status of the common folk, and some brief notes on religious affairs. One may wonder why I only gave the book three stars. Well, to be perfectly honest, I was sometimes bored. Do you blame me? This is a history book. How many history books have YOU read that have the capability of entertaining you into the wee hours of the night? I find that the heavier the prose (especially in regards to the use of jargon), the heavier my eyes become. Not that this book always made me tired, but the endless talk of changing Dynasties did cause my mind to drift. At any rate, I plan to read more on China's history and satisfy my interest sufficiently. In comparison to Japanese history (I've studied some due to my soft spot for all things Japanese), Chinese history is certainly more engaging. Maybe I should read up on the Koreans next. . more

Professor Anne Gerritsen

Office hours: Mondays 2-3, Tuesdays 2-3 and Wednesday 2-3 during term time. Please use this link to make a booking:

Academic Profile
  • Professor, History Department
  • Chair of Asian Art, University of Leiden. (This is a one-day secondment from Warwick to Leiden).
  • 2013-2018: Kikkoman Chair in Asian-Europe Intercultural Dynamics with special attention to material culture, art and development at the University of Leiden. See the project pages for the Kikkoman Chair.
  • PhD (2001) Harvard University (East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
  • MA Leiden University (Languages and Cultures of China)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy Royal Historical Society member of the Board of the Universities China Committee in London British Association for Chinese Studies, the American Association of Asian Studies, and the European Association of Chinese Studies. Steering committee member of Women and Gender Network (WAGNet).
Undergraduate Modules
Books and edited books:

Writing Material Culture History , now in a new edition! For a preview and a discount code, please see here .

The City of Blue and White (Cambridge University Press, April 2020). For a discussion about the book on the New Books Network, see here .

(eds.) Global Gifts: The Material Culture of Diplomacy in Early Modern Eurasia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018), c. 320pp. (with Giorgio Riello and Zoltan Biedermann).

(eds.) Micro-Spatial Histories of Global Labour (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) (with Christian de Vito).

(eds.) The Global Lives of Things: The Material Culture of Connections in the First Global Age (London: Routledge, 2016), 248pp (with Giorgio Riello)

(eds.) Writing Material Culture History (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 339pp., 65 B&W illustrations (with Giorgio Riello).

Ji'an Literati and the Local in Song-Yuan-Ming China. Leiden: Brill, 2007. See the limited preview on Google Books. The book has been reviewed in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, Etudes chinoises 27 (2008):173-77 Xinshixue 21.4 (2010): 247-254.


'Local Gazetteers Research Tools: Overview and Research Application ', published with Chen Shih-pei, Ken Hammond, Shellen Wu and Zhang Jiajing in Journal of Chinese History, 4.2 (2020), pp. 544-558.

Gerritsen, Anne, and Harriet Zurndorfer. ‘A Conversation With Harriet Zurndorfer ’. Ming Studies 2017, no. 76 (2017): 80&ndash83.

‘Domesticating Goods from Overseas: Global Material Culture in the Early Modern Netherlands’, Journal of Design History 29.3 (2016): 228-244.

‘Porcelain and the Material Culture of the Yuan Court (1279-1368).’ Journal of Early Modern History 16 (2012): 241-273.

‘Introduction to Global China: Material Culture and Connections in World History’ and ‘Material Culture and the Other: European Encounters with Chinese Porcelain, ca. 1650-1800’, with Stephen McDowall, eds., Journal of World History 23.1 (2012).

'Fragments of a Global Past: Sites of Ceramics Manufacture in Song-Yuan-Ming Jiangxi.' Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient, 2009.

'The Tale of Lady Tan: Negotiating Place Between Central and Local in Song-Yuan-Ming China, Medieval History Journal 11.2 (2008), pp. 161-186.

‘Prosopography and its Potential for Middle Period Research’, Journal of Song Yuan Studies 38 (2008), pp. 161-201. Available on Project Muse.

‘Friendship through Fourteenth-Century Fissures: Dai Liang, Wu Sidao and Ding Henian.’ Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in China 9.1 (2007), pp. 34-69.

‘Shisan shiji Jiangxi Ji’an xiangcun de shenzhi chongbai&mdashlishi xuejia de tianye diaocha’ 十三世纪江西吉安乡村的神祗崇拜, Nanfang wenwu 2, pp. 131-133.

‘The Many Guises of Xiaoluan: The Legacy of a Girl Poet in Late Imperial China’ Journal of Women’s History 17.2 (2005), pp. 38-61.

‘From Demon to Deity: Kang Wang in Thirteenth-Century Jizhou and Beyond’ T’oung Pao International Journal of Chinese Studies 90.1-3 (2004), pp. 4-35.

‘A Thirteenth-Century Cult in the Villages of Ji’an (Jiangxi), or ‘Fieldwork for Historians’,’ Journal of Song Yuan Studies 33. pp.181-185.

‘Visions of Local Culture: Tales of the Strange and Temple Inscriptions from Song-Yuan Jizhou’ Journal of Chinese Religions 28 (2000), pp. 69-92.

Chapters in edited books:

'Making the Place Work: Managing Labour in Early Modern China ' in Micro-Spaital Histories of Global Labour, De Vito and Gerritsen, eds. (Palgrave, 2018): 123-45.

'A damaged and discarded thing', in The Material Cultures of Enlightenment Arts and Sciences. Adriana Craciun and Simon Schaffer, eds. (Palgrave, 2016): 199-201.

‘Chinese Porcelain Local and Global Context: the Imperial Connection’, Luxury in Global Perspective: Commodities and Practices, c. 1600-2000, Bernd-Stefan Grewe (Universität Konstanz) and Karin Hofmeester (IISH Amsterdam), eds. (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

‘From Late Ming to High Qing (1550-1792)’, in Jeff Wasserstrom, ed., Oxford Illustrated History of China (Oxford University Press, 2016), 11-36.

‘The Global Lives of Things: Material Culture in the First Global Age’, with Giorgio Riello. In Gerritsen and Riello, eds., The Global Lives of Things (Routledge, 2016), 1-28.

‘Merchants in 17th-century China’, in Jan van Campen and Titus Eliëns, eds., Chinese and Japanese Porcelains for the Dutch Golden Age (Zwolle: Waanders, 2014). ISBN: 9789491196805. This book has won the 2015 book award of the American Ceramic Circle.

‘Scales of a Local: The Place of Locality in a Globalizing World.’ In Douglas Northrop, ed., A Companion to World History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

‘Ceramics for Local and Global Markets: Jingdezhen’s Agora of Technologies’ in Dagmar Schafer and Francesca Bray, eds., Cultures of Knowledge: Technology in Chinese History. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 2011. pp. 164-86.

‘Global Design in Jingdezhen: Local Production and Global Connections’ in Giorgio Riello, Glenn Adamson, and Sarah Teasley, eds., Global Design History (Routledge, 2011): 25-33.

‘The Hongwu Legacy: Fifteenth-Century Views on Zhu Yuanzhang’s Monastic Policies’ in Long Live the Emperor! Uses of the Ming Founder Across Six Centuries of East Asian History, edited by Sarah Schneewind. Ming Studies Research Series, volume 4 (Minneapolis: Society for Ming Studies, 2008), pp 55-72.

‘Searching for Gentility: The Nineteenth-Century Fashion for the Late Ming’ in The Quest for Gentility in China: Negotiations beyond Gender and Class, edited by Daria Berg and Chloe Starr, pp. 188-207 (London: Routledge, 2007).

Several contributions to The European World, 1500-1800 (Routledge, 2009). See the Routledge website for details

‘Liu Chenweng (1232-1297): Ways of Being Local.’ In The Human Tradition in Premodern China, Kenneth J. Hammond, editor. (Scholarly Resources, 2002), pp. 111-125.

'Women in the Life and Thought of Ch’en Ch’üeh: The Perspective of the Seventeenth Century.” in Chinese Women in the Imperial Past: New Perspectives. Harriet T. Zurndorfer, ed. Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1999), pp. 223-257.

Other publications:

Gerritsen, Anne. ‘Rituele objecten in plaatselijke kronieken’, Aziatische Kunst 49.3 (2019): 2-13.

‘Flower Arrangement, etc.’, Vormen uit Vuur 232 (2016): 30-37.

Asia Inside Out: Connected Places, edited by Eric Tagliacozzo et al., Journal of World History 27.2 (2016): 355-357.

Cambridge History of China: Volume 5 Part 2, Sung China, 960-1279, edited by John Chaffee and Denis Twitchett. Review in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 79.2 (2016): 455-457.

‘Soja, zoals die uit Oost-Indien komt’ de vroege geschiedenis van sojasaus in Nederland’, Aziatische Kunst 45.3 (2015): 24-33.

‘The Potter’s progress’, Review of The White Road by Edmund de Waal in Apollo (October 2015), 124.

Dennis Flynn and Arturo Giraldez, China and the Birth of Globalization in the 16th Century (Farnham: Ashgate Variorum, 2010), for The English Historical Review 128 (2013): 1220-2.

‘Pieces of Porcelain History’, Review of The Porcelain Thief, in Times Literary Supplement (1 July 2015).

‘The global life of a soya bottle’, inaugural lecture, Leiden University 12/12/14. available online.

‘Not "Them," but "Us"’, Response to the AHA Roundtable, entitled ‘It's a Small World After All’, online edition of Perspectives on History, Summer 2013.

Bookreview: Dennis Flynn and Arturo Giráldez, China and the Birth of Globalization in the 16th Century (Farnham: Ashgate Variorum, 2010), for The English Historical Review 128 (2013): 1220-2.

Bookreview: Michael North, Artistic and Cultural Exchanges between Europe and Asia, 1400-1900, for The English Historical Review 127 (2012): 1232-4.

Review of Tonio Andrade, How Taiwan became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century ( New York, NY , Columbia University Press , 2008). See here.

Review of David Faure, Emperor and Ancestor: State and Lineage in South China in volume XLII, no. 83 (May 2009) of Histoire sociale - Social History.

Review of Schneewind, Tale of Two Melons in Journal of Asian Studies 66.3 (2007), 832-834.

Completed Research Projects:

I held a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Humanities and Social Science, entitled Therapeutic Commodities: Trade, Transmission and the Material Culture of Global Medicine from November 2017 to October 2019. For more details, see here .

Global Jingdezhen: Local Manufactures and Early Modern Global Connections. Between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, the manufacture, design, export and consumption of Chinese ceramics changed profoundly, and those changes, in turn, transformed many different parts of the world. This project, carried out jointly by Anne Gerritsen and Stephen McDowall, investigated the nature of those changes and transformations. This AHRC-funded research project, ran from 01-01-2009 to 01-07-2011.

The Material Culture of Early Modern Global Connections. This AHRC-funded research project, led by Anne Gerritsen and Giorgio Riello, explored the material culture of global connections. The Knowledge Centre has produced a short piece on this project.

Review of Huan Hsu's The Porcelain Thief in The Times Literary Supplement

For my appearance on In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, see podcast here.

See here for a short piece on the Jingdezhen shard market

Listen to my appearance on the 'Academic Minute' on WAMC, part of NPR.

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Anne Gerritsen of the University of Warwick traces globalization to its sixteenth-century roots.

Washington Irving Reinvents Christmas

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the 1800s piqued American interest in the holiday?

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

Community Reviews

A concise and straightforward summary of Chinese history leading up to the nineteenth century.
Basic facts and figures supplemented by some synthetic conclusions. The prose is simple and to the point, though not very lively.

This was the first book I have read on the subject and it was a suitable introduction.

A fulsome history that gives the big picture.

This is a great work that I found very handy in my studies on Chinese history. I own other books that cover specific era in more detail, but this provides an interesting perspective and a complete overview. I highly recommend it!

And also Tanner does a bang-up job being informative but brief, and straightforward but very interesting. For a textbook, it's got some delightful sparks of dry-wit that make me feel like Tanner is a fun professor I'd love to have:

It's worth stating again: he does a really admirable job covering lots of information about each era and dynasty over 10,000+ years of history. Yeah, a lot of it is surface level -- the Three Kingdoms period flies right by, when you could dedicate a whole book to it. But I think this is a wonderful entry point for anyone interested in Chinese history. I didn't walk away from it an expert or anything, and sure enough I have forgotten plenty already, but I am far more familiar and a little more literate in another culture's background than I was a month or so ago.

Welcome to History for Kids the free online history network. We hope you enjoy and have fun exploring our history. The website is packed with articles, worksheets and even a quiz on each section.

You will find cool games, videos, worksheets on many historical events that will help you understand those that have gone before us.


Learn about the ancient Egyptian civilization and what they did in their daily lives. Many things like metal work, paper making and amazing architecture all came from the Egyptians.

When where the Pyramids built check here

  • History of Egypt
  • Daily Life
  • Egyptian Architecture
  • Egyptian Science


There is so much to learn about ancient Greece. This civilization was around almost 4000 years ago. You will learn about Daily Life and the amazing art and architecture that they are famous for. Greek mythology is also very interesting to read about and your have fun learning.

  • Greek History
  • Greek Science
  • Greek Sculpture
  • Greek Religion

Rome was the greatest city in the ancient world. The Roman Empire stretched across Europe and they had vast armies to help conquer other cities and countries. Enjoy reading about this amazing time.

World War 1

World War 1 (also called The Great War) started on July 28th 1914, you can read the article on the Causes of the War below which will give you a better understanding. War is never nice and a lot of people lost their lives in the battels

World War 2

World War 2 started in September 1939 when Germany attacked Poland. The Axis powers were those countries that joined to attack Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. The Allied Powers generally consisted of Great Britain, The Soviet Union, China and the United States.

Middle Ages

The middle ages happened after the fall of the Roman Empire. We have put together some fun and interesting information that talks about daily life and great leaders like Joan of Arc. You’ll also find a nice range printable worksheets.
Checkout our fun quiz also.

Enjoy our information on Asian History and lots more as we add information. You’ll find lots of pictures, art and worksheets to help with you’re homework and school projects.

  • Asian History
  • Daily Life in Asia
  • Asian Literature
  • Asian Art


Learn all about Ancient China, we cover the Chinese Daily Life and from what type of food they liked to games and music. Checkout the quiz and woeksheet for project and school work.

  • Chinese daily life
  • Chinese Art
  • China Architecture
  • Chinese Literature


Our American History section covers many different topics like Native People, Religion, Declaration of Independence and much more. You’ll have fun learning about this wonderful topic. Once done try our quiz and worksheets.


Mesopotamia is an area in south western Asia where the first human civilisation emerged. The people who lived in Mesopotamia were nomads.

Test your knowledge with our quiz section. We have it broken into different sections, all the answers can be found on the pages within the website and we hope you have fun learning all about history.

  • Ancient Egyptian Quiz
  • Ancient Egyptian Quiz
  • Ancient Rome Quiz
  • American History Quiz


Checkout our printable PDF files all about history. Take your time and enjoy by downloading, we hope you enjoy these extra teaching resources that we have provided.

C hinese H istory

liutk/shih/) .
Language: Chinese (Big5).
Resource type: On-line guide.
Description: Contrary to the dates shown on the pages this site is still updated regularly. It contains a wealth of important starting points to on-line resources on Chinese and Taiwanese history. Not to be missed!
Site contents: (1) 史學機構 History Research Institutes (2) 史網總表 Search Engines, Indices, and Mailinglists (3) 中國史 Chinese History (4) 世界史 World History (5) 台灣史 Taiwan History (6) 專史 Topical History (General Thought Culture Ethnics Art Music Science Astronomy Architecture Mathematics Military Science Women Medicine Religion Economics) (7) 博物館 Museums (8) 圖書查詢 Libraries (9) 電子文庫 Electronic Texts (10) 全文檢索 Full-text databases (11) 期刊雜誌 Periodicals (12) 地理系統 Geographic Aids (13) 搜索引擎 Search (14) 史學論壇 Discussion Groups (15) 史網偶拾 Miscellaneous.
Note: Frames capable browser needed!
Added/revised on 16 Nov 1999 (HL)

nroubini/asia/AsiaHomepage.html) .
Language: English.
Description: Supplied note: "Dr. Nouriel Roubini, Associate Professor of Economics and International Business at the Stern School of Business of the New York University, maintains an extensive homepage on the Asian economic crisis, as a part of his MBA Macroeconomics Course Page. It is one of the most extensive and comprehensive collection of data, analyses and hyperlinks on the subject." (Cited from the Asian Studies WWW Monitor, 26 Jan 1998).
Site contents: (1) Basic Readings and References on the Causes of the Crisis (2) Global Effects, Regional and Systemic Contagion Analyses (3) Country Analyses (Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, Japan) (4) The Debate on the Role of the IMF in the Crisis (5) Will the Crisis Spread to Other Regions of the World? (6) The Role of Financial Fragility and Systemic Risk (7) Other Episodes of Fixed Exchange Rate Collapse in the 1990s (8) The Debate on Fixed versus Flexible Exchange Rate (9) Sources of Official Data and Reports (10) News Sources."
Added/revised on 31.01.1998 (HL)

History: China


chgis/) .
Language: English, Chinese (GB, Big5).
Supplied note: "The CHGIS project has been established under the aegis of the Harvard-Yenching Institute and Harvard University with a three-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. The CHGIS will establish a standardized coding system to identify historical administrative units and settlements for different periods in Chinese History. It will provide a base GIS platform for spatial analysis, temporal statistical modeling, and representation of selected historical units as digital maps. The project [which builds on the work of the late Robert M. Hartwell - T.M. Ciolek] intends to make the multi-lingual base GIS available to the scholarly community at no charge through download sites throughout the world.
The participating institutions are: Center for Historical Geography, Fudan University (Shanghai) Computing Sciences Center, Academia Sinica (Taipei) Australian Centre for Asian Spatial Data and Information Analysis Network, Griffith University (Brisbane), Harvard University (Cambridge)."
Description: T.M. Ciolek: "Site est. 20 Dec 2000. Close involvement of Peter K. Bol, Lawrence Crissman, C.C. Hsieh, and Merrick Lex Berman augurs well for the success of the Project. Definitely a site to be watched."
Site contents: (1) Introduction (2) Web maps (CHGIS 1820, Qing Dynasty CHGIS 1990, Chinese Counties Hartwell Historical GIS China Weather Maps - Falling Rain Genomics) (3) Data sets (China Historical GIS DCW China GIS shapefiles Hartwell China History Project GIS G. William Skinner, Qing Macroregional GIS China in Time and Space - CITAS Other Datasets: population, geocoding, placenames) (4) Members (5) Meetings (6) Tools (7) Search .
Resource suggested via the Asian Studies WWW Monitor (21 Dec 2000) by Merrick Berman ([email protected]).
Added 29 Dec 2000, last revised 16 Aug 2002 (HL)

classbib/) .
Language: English, with parts in Chinese (Big5).
Self description: "This bibliography pulls together materials that Benjamin Elman has been compiling for the past ten years with the help of graduate students. Its intended audience is anyone interested in doing research in Chinese history (broadly defined) but with a focus on the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasty (1644-1911)."
Description: Since this site has been developed for a long period of time by one of the leading experts in Chinese history, its richness of resources and quality of content are almost unmatched on the Internet. After moving to its new address in January 2003 the romanization has been switched to Pinyin and a global search engine has been added to its functionality.
Site contents: (1) Introduction to Classical Chinese Historiography (2) Relevant Electronic Resources for Chinese Studies (3) Dictionaries (4) Selected List Of Bibliographical & Geographical Aids (5) Biographical Aids (6) Some Aids For Translating Chinese Official Titles & Institutions (7) Reference Guide to Classical Book Titles (8) The Four Parts (9) Bibliography of Chinese Classics & Literature In Translation With Recent Related Histories (10) Selected English Bibliography For Chinese Civilization: A Brief Topical and Historical Survey to Ming Times (11) Sources For The Ming Dynasty (12) Sources For The Qing Dynasty (13) Civil and Military Examination Bibliographies.
Added 1996, last revised 18 Jan 2003 (HL)

pendar/chinese/wbichinese/resource/archive/ch_text1/) .
Language: Chinese (Big5).
Description: Wu Hengsheng, student of International Business at the National Taiwan University, has put on-line an impressive amount of basic works of Chinese philosophy, literature, and history. Be careful, though, with the reliablity of these texts, since private endeavors like this usually lack the necessary amount of proofreading by different experienced scholars!
Resource suggested by Clemens Ziesché, Bonn, Germany.
Added 29 Apr 1999 (HL), last revised 8 Jan 2003 (JH).

Premodern China: up to Qing (before 1644)

cscp/index.htm) .
A catalog of human fossil remains from China a picture gallery of important fossil specimens maps detailing the distribution of human fossils in China and links to other relevant sites dealing with paleontology, human evolution and Chinese prehistory.

mingching/) .
Language: Chinese (Big5), some parts also in English.
Description: "Academia Sinica, in collaboration with scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds who research the Ming-Ch'ing periods, has established a Ming-Ch'ing website. This inter-disciplinary website will provide information on upcoming events and meetings related to our Ming-Ch'ing study group as well as any activities that may take place. The site also provides summaries of scholars' works, publications, and their most recent research plans. We will provide the contents of periodicals and journals related to Ming-Ch'ing studies for the last five years for scholars to peruse. We are also at the moment setting up an email discussion group using the email address below." (Cited from Michael J. Walsh's contribution to the H-Asia Discussionlist, Jan. 13, 1999).
Added/revised on 16.01.1999 (HL)

Modern China: Qing Dynasty onward (1644 to now)

mingching/) .
Language: Chinese (Big5), some parts also in English.
Description: "Academia Sinica, in collaboration with scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds who research the Ming-Ch'ing periods, has established a Ming-Ch'ing website. This inter-disciplinary website will provide information on upcoming events and meetings related to our Ming-Ch'ing study group as well as any activities that may take place. The site also provides summaries of scholars' works, publications, and their most recent research plans. We will provide the contents of periodicals and journals related to Ming-Ch'ing studies for the last five years for scholars to peruse. We are also at the moment setting up an email discussion group using the email address below." (Cited from Michael J. Walsh's contribution to the H-Asia Discussionlist, Jan. 13, 1999).
Added/revised on 16.01.1999 (HL)

Republican China (1911-1949)

asiactr/sino-japanese/) .
Language: English.
Self description: "This multi-year project seeks to expand research into Sino-Japanese conflict between 1931 and 1945 by promoting cooperation among scholars and institutions in China, Japan, the United States, and other nations. An initial planning conference was held in Tokyo in January 2000. The summary report from this meeting provides further detail on the scope of this project, as well as plans for future conferences."
Site contents: Summary of January 2000 meeting and Conference Papers Related Conferences and Symposia Recent Publications Official Sources and Media Sites Chinese-Language Materials English-Language Materials Japanese-Language Materials Materials in Other Languages Research Forum.
Resource suggested via the Asian Studies WWW Monitor (07 Nov 2000) by Steve Phillips ([email protected]).
Added 26 Nov 2000 (HL)

suopei/) .
Language: Japanese (JIS), English.
Description: Established on August 7, 1995, the Society to Support the Demands of Chinese War Victims is one of the largest organizations supporting lawsuits of Chinese war victims against the Japanese government. Site contents: (1) Why to Support Chinese war-victims? (2) Summary of Incidents Caused by the Former Japanese Military (3) Chinese War-Victim's Testimony (4) Points at Issue in the Lawsuits.
Added/revised on 12.11.1998 (HL)

nanking/) .
Language: English.
Description: Although intended as a conference announcement in commemoration of the 60th birthday of the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 (held between 21 and 22 Novermber 1997 at Princeton Univ.), the pages also contain a few basic information on this dark part of history, including a gallery with some pictures taken during the massacre by Japanese soldiers (you should be able to stand shocking material) and a list of links to related sites.
Note: Frames capable browser needed!
Added/revised on 11.11.1997

Watch the video: Chinese History in 20 Minutes A Summary History of China