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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $34.00
  • June 2013
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-92085-7
  • 656 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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The Search for Modern China

A Documentary Collection

Third Edition


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Janet Chen (Editor, Princeton University), Pei-kai Cheng (Editor, City University of Hong Kong), Michael Lestz (Editor, Trinity College)

With Jonathan D. Spence


The most widely used primary-source reader for the modern China course, thoroughly revised and updated to reflect the new edition of Spence, The Search for Modern China.

The new edition of this outstanding documents collection displays a stronger blend of social history—pieces reflecting everyday life, family, social networks, and culture—and political history—critical proclamations, treaties, laws, and other public acts. Many of the documents are translated into English for the first time and available only in this book.

Informative headnotes accompany the selections, providing context and helping students with unfamiliar names, places, and events. This collection is the perfect source for a firsthand look at modern Chinese history.  


Up-to-date coverage and scholarship

The Third Edition, entirely revised and featuring new scholarship throughout, brings the history of modern China up-to-date through the drastic changes of the last decade, including China’s vast social and economic transformation, participation in the world economy, and strong political and military influence regionally and globally, all with the remnant Communist Party continuing to exercise political control. The updated final chapter examines these changes alongside the persistent tensions China continues to face: social tensions connected to the disparities in wealth between the cities and the countryside; struggles to maintain central authority in the far west; tensions between minority ethnic groups and the majority Han Chinese; and protests over control of Tibet and Tibetan populations in China.  

Strong connections between the dynastic past and contemporary China

The text makes strong connections between China’s dynastic history and the contemporary scene, with added discussions of the commercial innovations of the great 18th century Qing emperors Kangxi and Qianlong, which encouraged entrepreneurial activity, and Chinese commercial law and practice as they applied to western merchants in the 19th century. 

Steamlined narrative

Spence pared the narrative, particularly political and military details pertaining to the 20th-century rise of the Chinese Communist Party, in order to highlight continuities in Chinese history throughout.  

    **Denotes a new document

    Part I: Conquest and Consolidation

    Chapter 1: The Late Ming

    1.1 and 1.2: Two Accounts of the Suzhou Riot, 1601
         1.1 Shen Zan’s Account
         1.2 Wen Bing’s Account
    1.3 and 1.4: A Ming Official on the Decline and Fall of the Dynasty
         1.3 The Trend of the World
         1.4 On the Management of the Salt Gabelle
    1.5: Broadsheet From Li Zicheng
    1.6 and 1.7: two Accounts of Zhang Xianzhong
         1.6 The Career of Zhang Xianzhong
         1.7 A Colorful Early Qing Biography of the Bandit Leader Zhang Xianzhong
    1.8: Song Maocheng: The Tale of the Ungrateful Lover

    Chapter 2: The Manchu Conquest
    2.1: Nurhaci’s Seven Grievances
    2.2 and 2.3: Exchange of Letters Between Wu Sangui and Dorgon
         2.2 A Letter from Wu Snagui to Dorgon Sent from Shanhaiguan, Renshen Day, 4th Moon, 1644
         2.3 Dorgon’s Reply to Wu Sangui Sent from Xilatala, Giuyu Day, 4th Moon, 1644
    2.4: A Letter from Dorgon to the Ming Loyalist Shi Kefa, 6th Moon, 1644
    2.5 and 2.6: Two Edicts Concerning the Wearing of the Hair Under Manchu Rule
         2.5 Regent Dorgon’s Edict of the Board of War
         2.6 Imperial Edict to the Board of Rites
    2.7: The Siege of Jiangyin, 1645

    Chapter 3: Kangxi’s Consolidation
    3.1: Wu Sangui on the Execution of the Prince of Gui
    3.2: Shi Lang’s Memorial on the Capture of Taiwan
    3.3: Fang Bao’s “Random Notes from Prison,” 1711
    3.4: Kangxi’s Valedictory Edict, 1717

    Chapter 4: Yongzheng’s Authority
    4.1 and 4.2: Kangxi’s Sacred Edict and Wang Yupu and Yongzheng’s Amplification
         4.1 The Sacred Edict of the Kangxi Emperor, 1670
         4.2 Wang Yupu and Yongzheng’s Amplification of Kangxi’s Sacred Edict
    4.3: Yongzheng’s Edict on Changing the Status of the Mean People

    Chapter 5: Chinese Society and the Reign of Qianlong
    5.1: The Scholars: “Fan Jin Passes the Juren Examination”
    5.2: A Murder Case from the Records of the Office for the Scrutiny of Punishments, 1747-1748
    5.3: Glorifying the Origins of the Manchus, From an Account in the State Archive
    5.4 and 5.5: Heshen: Accusation and Inventory
         5.4 The Twenty Crimes of Heshen
         5.5 An Inventory of the Household Property Confiscated from the Home of Heshen
    5.6: Lan Dingyuan on the Education of Women, 1712**

    Chapter 6: China and the Eighteenth-Century World
    6.1: Lord Macartney’s Commission from Henry Dundas, 1792
    6.2 Macartney’s Audience with Qianlong
    6.3: Macartney’s Description of China’s Government
    6.4 and 6.5: Qianlong’s Rejection of Macartney’s Demands: Two Edicts
         6.4 The First Edict, September 1793
         6.5: The Second Edict, September 1793

    Part II: Fragmentation and Reform

    Chapter 7: The First Clash with the West
    7.1-7.4: Memorials, Edicts and Laws on Opium
         7.1 Memorial on Legalizing Opium, June 10, 1836
         7.2 Memorial on Banning Opium, October 1836
         7.3 Imperial Edict, September 1836
         7.4 Annexed Laws on Banning Opium, July 1839
    7.5: Lord Palmerston’s Declaration of War, February 20, 1840

    Chapter 8: The Crisis Within
    8.1: Qian Yong on Popular Religion, 1838
    8.2: The Conversation of Liang Fa: Good Works to Extort the Age, 1832
    8.3: Executions of Taiping Rebels at Canton, 1851
    8.4 and 8.5: Precepts and Odes Published by Hong Xiuquan in 1852 and 1853: “The Ten Commandments” and “The Ode for Youth”
         8.4: The Ten Commandments
         8.5: Taiping Religious Verses (from “The Ode for Youth”)
    8.6 and 8.7: Zeng Guofan: Confucian Official and General
         8.6: Zeng Guofan: A Proclamation Against the Bandits of Guangdong and Guangxi 
         8.7: Zeng Guofan: Letter to his Younger Brothers**

    Chapter 9: Restoration through Reform
    9.1: Yung Wing: Interview with Zeng Guofan, 1863
    9.2: Prince Going on the Tongwen College: Three Memorials, 1861, 1865, 1866
    9.3 and 9.4: The Burlingame Treaty and the United States Exclusion Act
         9.3 The Burlingame Treaty, 1868
         9.4 The Exclusion Act, May 6, 1882
    9.5: A Proposal to Build Railroads, 1879**
    9.6: Chinese Anti-Foreignism, 1892

    Chapter 10: New Tensions in the Late Qing
    10.1: Sun Yat-Sen’s Reform Proposal to Li Hongzhang, 1893
    10.2: Li Hongzhang Negotiates with Japan, 1895
    10.3: Zhang Zhidong on the Central Government, 1898
    10.4: Urban Life in the Dianshizhai Pictorial**
    10.5 and 10.6: Boxer Memoirs: Oral Accounts of the Boxer Rebellion
    10.5 Several Accounts of “The Shining Red Lantern”
    10.6 Four Accounts of the Fate of Miss Han (Han Guniang)

    Chapter 11: The End of the Dynasty
    11.1: Zou Rong on Revolution, 1903
    11.2 and 11.3: Qui Jin: Feminist Revolutionary**
         11.2: “Song of the Precious Sword”**
         11.3: “An Address to My Two Hundred Million Women Compatriots in China"**
    11.4: The Revolutionary Alliance Proclamation, 1907
    11.5: Press Coverage of the Wuchang Uprising, 1911
    11.6: The Manchu Abdication Edict
    11.7: Zhu Ziqing: “Selecting a Wife”**

    Part III: Envisioning State and Society

    Chapter 12: The New Republic

    12.1 and 12.2: Yuan Shikai: Two Documents
         12.1 Poem to the Soldiers
         12.2 Yuan Pledges Allegiance to the Republic, February 12, 1912
    12.3: Japan’s Twenty-One Demands, 1915
    12.4 and 12.5: Two Soldiers**
         12.4: Feng Yuxiang: Praising the Lord
         12.5: Zhang Zongchang: With Pleasure Rife
    12.6: Butterfly Fiction: “We Shall Meet Again” 1914**

    Chapter 13: “A Road Is Made”
    13.1: Chen Duxiu: “Call to Youth,” 1915**
    13.2: Li Dazhao: The Victory of Bolshevism, 1918
    13.3: Deng Chunlan: “My Plan for Women’s Emancipation and My Plan for Self-Improvement,” 1919**
    13.4 and 13.5 Lu Xun: May Fourth Literature**
         13.4: “A Madman’s Diary”**
         13.5: “What Happens After Nora Leaves Home?” **

    Chapter 14: The Fractured Alliance
    14.1: Sun Yat-Sen Opens the Whampoa Academy, 1924
    14.2: Lu Xun, “Sudden Notions”—Reactions to the May Thirteenth Incident, 1925**
    14.3: A Patient Named Taiwan: Chiang Wei-shui’s “Clinical Notes,” 1921**
    14.4-14.6: Purging the CCP: Three Documents
         14.4 Official Statement by the Guomindang, April 1927
         14.5 “Purge the Party” Slogans for the Chinese People, May 1927
         14.6 A Proclamation, Headquarters of the Twenty-sixth Nationalist Army, April 22, 1927
    14.7: Madame Sun Yat-Sen Defends the Left, August 1927

    Chapter 15: The Guomindang in Power
    15.1 and 15.2: The Law in the Nanjing Decade
         15.1 Hu Shi Appeals for Legal Rights
         15.2 Guomindang “Emergency Laws,” 1931
    15.3-15.5: The Mukden Incident and Manchukuo
         15.3 Japan on the Mukden Incident
         15.4 Japan’s Expansion: A Satirical Poem
         15.5 Puyi’s Proclamation
    15.6 and 15.7: Social Innovations in the Nanjing Decade**
         15.6 “Control of Practicing Midwives in China,” 1930**
         15.7 The Ding Xian Experiment 1934**
    15.8: Politics of Power: General von Falkenhausen’s Advice to Chiang Kai-shek, 1936

    Chapter 16: Communist Survival
    16.1: The Jiangxi Soviet Land Law, 1932**
    16.2: Communist Survival: The Tale of the Luding Bridge, 1935
    16.3-16.5: Three Accounts of the New Life Movement
         16.3 Mme. Chiang on the New Life Momvement, 1935
         16.4 “New Life” in Brief
         16.5 “New Life” for the Reds
    16.6: The Students Demonstrate, December 16, 1935
    16.7: and 16.8: Xi’an 1936: The Generals’ Demands and Chiang Kai-Shek’s Reply
         16.7 Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng’s Eight-Point Program
         16.8 Chiang Kai-Shek’s Admonition to Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng

    Part IV: War and Revolution

    Chapter 17: World War II

    17.1 and 17.2: Japan at War
         17.1 Prince Konoe’s Address, September 1937
         17.2 The Japanese Ambassador Explains, 1937
    17.3: Chiang Replies, 1938
    17.4 and 17.5: The Rape of Nanjing
         17.4 Bearing Witness
         17.5 The Nanjing “Murder Race”
    17.6: Feng Zikai: Bombs in Yishan (with image) **
    17.7: Wang Jingwei: On Collaboration, 1941
    17.8: Liu Shaoqi: How to Be a Good Communist, 1939

    Chapter 18: The Fall of the Guomindang State
    18.1: Wen Yiduo: The Poet’s Farewell, 1946
    18.2: General Marshall: The Mediator’s View, 1947
    18.3: The 2-28 Incident in Taiwan**
    18.4-18.5: Mao Takes Charge
         18.4 The Army Advances
         18.5 Takeover Details
    18.6: Democratic Dictatorship

    Chapter 19: The Birth of the People’s Republic
    19.1: Treaty with the Soviet Union, February 1950
    19.2: New Laws: Marriage and Divorce, May 1950
    19.3: Ding Ling’s Fiction: The Sun Shines over Sanggan River
    19.4: Hu Sidu and Hu Shi: The Son and the Father
    19.5: Chiang Kai-Shek: Back to the Mainland, October 1954

    Chapter 20: Planning the New Society
    20.1 and 20.2: A-Bombs and Paper Tigers
         20.1 Mao Zedong: “The Chinese People Cannot be Cowed by the Atom Bomb,” January 28, 1955
         20.2 Mao Zedong: “U.S. Imperialism Is a Paper Tiger,” July 14, 1956
    20.3 and 20.4: The Hundred Flowers Campaign, May 1956**
         20.3 Lu Dingyi: “Let Flowers of Many Kinds Blossom, Diverse Schools of Thought Contend!” May 26, 1956
         20.4: Professors Speak Out, June 10, 1957
    20.5: Deng Xiaoping; The Antirightist Campaign, September 23, 1957

    Chapter 21: Deepening the Revolution
    21.1-21.3: The Great Leap Forward and the Sino-Soviet Split
         21.1 Chen Boda: “Under the Banner of Comrade Mao Zedong,” July 16, 1958
         21.2 Yin Zeming: “The Strength of the Masses is Limitless,” 1958
         21.3 “Hold High the Red Flag of People’s Communes and March On,” September 3, 1958
    21.4: Heroine of the Great Leap Forward**
    21.5: “Decision Approving Comrade Mao Zedong’s Proposal to Step Down,” December 10, 1958
    21.6: “Statement of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Successful Explosion of the Atomic Bomb,” 1964**

    Chapter 22: The Cultural Revolution
    22.1: Life and Death of Lei Feng, an Admirable “Fool”
    22.2 Lin Biao: “Long Live the Victory of People’s War!” September 1965
    22.3-22.5: The Future Direction of the Cultural Revolution
         22.3 Mao Zedong’s Big-character Poster: “Bombard the Headquarters”
         22.4 Mao Zedong’s The Sixteen-Point Decision
         22.5 Deng Xiaoping: Self-Criticism
    22.6 and 22.7: “I Saw Chairman Mao!!!” **
         22.6: “I Saw Chairman Mao!!!” **
         22.7: “As We Watched Them Beat Him…”**

    Part V: Re-entering the World

    Chapter 23: Reopening the Doors

    23.1 and 23.2: Rapprochement with the United States and the International Community
         23.1 The Shanghai Communique
         23.2 Deng Xiaoping: Speech at the United Nations, April 10 1974
    23.3: “The Lost Generation”**
    23.4 and 23.5: Barefoot Doctors**
         23.4 “Barefoot Doctors”**
         23.5 “A Barefoot Doctor’s Manual” **
    23.6: Central Committee “Obituary” on the Death of Mao Zedong, October 1976

    Chapter 24: Redefining Revolution
    24.1: Deng Xiaoping: “Emancipate the Mind, Seek Truth from Facts and Unite as One in Looking to the Future,” December 13, 1978
    24.2 and 24.3: Wei Jingsheng: “The Fifth Modernization”**
         24.2 “The Fifth Modernization”**
         24.3 Liu Qing: Sad Memories and Prospects**
    24.4: He Shiguang: “On a Village Market Street,” August 1980

    Chapter 25: Levels of Power
    25.1 and 25.2: The One-Child Policy**
         25.1 “Open Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party”**
         25.2 “Report on the Conditions Regarding the Work of Family Planning”**
    25.3: The Background to Bitter Love, April 1981
    25.4: Liu Binyan: A case of Persecution in Xi’an in Disregard of Central Instructions, August 25, 1984
    25.5: The Joint Agreement by Britain and China Defining the Future of Hong Kong, September 26, 1984
    25.6-25.8: Fang Lizhi and the Party
         25.6 Fang Lizhi’s Interview with Tiziano Terzani, 1987
         25.7 On Fang Lizhi’s Expulsion, January 20, 1987
         25.8 Explanation of Fang Lizhi’s Errors, January 21, 1987

    Chapter 26: Testing the Limits
    26.1 and 26.2: Student Demonstrations Following the Death of Hu Yaobang
         26.1 People’s Daily: “We Must Unequivocally Oppose Unrest,” April 26, 1989
         26.2 China News Agency: Report on the Peking Student Demonstration
    26.3: “Open Declaration of a Hunger Strike,” May 1989
    26.4: Li Peng’s Announcement of Martial Law, May 20, 1989
    26.5: Deng Xiaopeng’s Explanation of the Crackdown, June 9, 1989

    Chapter 27: Century’s End
    27.1: Dalai Lama and “Ahimsa” for Tibet: The Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, December 10, 1989
    27.2: Wei Jingsheng: “The Wolf and the Lamb,” November 18, 1993
    27.3: President Clinton Reevaluates Human Rights as Element of China Policy, May 27, 1994
    27.4 and 27.5: The Three Gorges**
         27.4 General Plan for Population Resettlement**
         27.5 Resettlement in the Three Gorges Project**
    27.6: The Resurrection of Mao Zedong**

    Chapter 28: Breakthrough?**
    28.1: China Can Say No**
    28.2 and 28.3: Earthquake in Sichuan, May 2008**
         28.2 The Survivor**
         28.3 Fortitude in Adversity**
    28.4: The Beijing Olympics, 2008**
    28.5: Charter 08**