Liu, Xiaoyuan

Historical China and the World

The course traces the evolution of China’s external relations from antiquity to our own times.  Situated in the geographic environment of the Asian Continent and being the birthplace of one of the world’s oldest living civilizations, China used to be at the center of a “world order” of East Asia and often acted as the hegemon of that region in the millennia prior to the 19th century.  China’s centrality in its own world was lost in the mid-19th century when Western powers brought drastic changes to the Asia-Pacific region.  In the next hundred years many Asian countries came under the Western colonial system; China also went through an arduous process of transformation from a “celestial empire” to a national state.  During the first half of the 20th century, China struggled with its imperial legacies in finding a new national identity while continuously enduring setbacks from domestic divisions and foreign aggressions.  After 1949, China, now under a communist system, reclaimed most of the territorial domain of the Qing Empire and began to challenge the Western world order as a revolutionary power.  In the post-Cold War years a reformed China reentered the international society.  In the meantime, the suspenseful “rise of China” has posed many questions to our times. 
This course identifies conceptions, practices, institutions, and relationships that characterized the inter-state relations of the so-called “East Asian world order,” and considers the interactions between “Eastern” and “Western,” and the “revolutionary” and “conventional” modes of China’s international behavior.  The students attend lectures and read major scholarly works on ancient and modern Chinese external affairs.  The student’s grade is based on participation, occasional quizzes, two tests (midterm and final), and a short essay (9-12 double-spaced pages).
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China and the Cold War


The class examines China’s entanglement with the Cold War from 1945 to the early 1990s. The course raises China-centered questions because it is curious in retrospect that China, a quintessential Eastern state, became so deeply involved in the Cold War, which was a confrontation rooted in Western history.  In exploring such questions, this course does not merely treat China as part of the Cold War but also treat the Cold War as a period of the Chinese history.

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New Course in East Asian History

"International History of East Asia"

This course is open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students.  Focusing on important international developments of East Asia during the 20th century, the course includes a reading segment exposing students to major scholarships in the field and a research segment designed to help students develop new or ongoing research projects.

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Tutorial in "China in Hot & Cold Wars in Modern Times" . . .


This tutorial explores three types of conflicts in China modern experiences: civil wars, international conflicts, and Cold War confrontations.  Reading materials include major scholarships on these topics. The class meets biweekly, and the students are evaluated on the basis of participation, short book reviews, and a final paper.

Reading List for “China in Wars”

Civil Wars


  • Titles on the Taiping Rebellion (such as Jonathan Spence, God’s Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan; Stephen Platt, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War)
  • Titles on the warlords of the early Republican period (Lucian Pye, Warlord Politics: Conflict and Coalition in the Modernization of Republican China; Edward McCord, The Power of the Gun: The Emergence of Modern Chinese Warlordism; His-sheng Chi, Warlord Politics in China)
  • Titles on the Nationalist-Communist political-military struggles (such as Odd Westad, Decisive Encounters: The Chinese Civil War, 1945-1950; Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China; Sun Shuyun, The Long March: The True History of Communist China’s Founding Myth)


International Conflicts


  • Titles on the Sino-French war, 1884-85 (such as Lloyd Eastman, Throne and Mandarins: China’s Search for a Policy during the Sino-French Controversy, 1880-85) 
  • Titles on the first Sino-Japanese war, 1894-95 (such as P.C.M. Paine, The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95
  • Titles on the Boxer war, 1900 (such as Joseph Esherick, The Origins of the Boxer Uprising; Paul Cohen, History in Three Keys)
  • Titles on China and World War I (such as Guoqi Xu, China and the Great War)
  • Titles on China and World War II, or the second Sino-Japanese war, 1937-45 (such as Rana Mitter, The Forgotten Ally; Hans van de Ven and Diana Lary, Negotiating China’s Destiny in World War II; Michael Schaller, The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938-45; P.C.M. Paine, The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949 )


Cold War Confrontations


  • Titles on the Korean War, 1950-53 (such as Chen Jian, China’s Road to the Korea War; Shu Guang Zhang, Mao’s Military Romanticism: China and the Korean War, 1950-1953; Shen Zhihua, Mao, Stalin, and the Korean War)
  • Titles on China and the Vietnam War, 1965-73 (such as Zhai Qiang, China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975; Priscilla Roberts, Behind the Bamboo Curtain: China, Vietnam, and the World beyond Asia; Mari Olsen, Soviet-Vietnam Relations and the Role of China 1949-64; Lien-Hang T. Nguyen, Haoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam)
  • Titles on the Sino-Indian border conflict, 1962 (such as Neville Maxwell, India’s China War, and same author, China’s Borders: Settlements and Conflicts; Jasjit Singh, China’s India War, 1962; John Garver, Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century)
  • Titles on the Sino-Soviet border conflict, 1969 (Lorenz Luthi, The Sino-Soviet Split; Mingjiang Li, Mao’s China and the Sino-Soviet Split: Ideological Dilemma; Sergey Radchenko, Two Suns in the Heavens: The Sino-Soviet Struggle for Supremacy, 1962-1967)
  • Titles on the Sino-Vietnam war, 1979 (such as Zhang Xiaoming, Deng Xiaoping’s Long War: The Military Conflict between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991; King C. Chen, China’s War with Vietnam, 1979; Odd Westad and Sophie Quinn-Judge, The Third Indochina War: Conflict between China, Vietnam and Cambodia, 1972-79; Nicholas Khoo, Collateral Damage: Sino-Soviet Rivalry and the Termination of the Sino-Vietnamese Alliance)
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Tutorial in "Making of the 'Chinese Nation'". . .


This tutorial is about conceptual and political constructions of the "Chinese Nation" in the 20th century. Readings include relevant writings by important intellectual and political figures of 20th-century China and major scholarships on the subject from multiethnic perspectives. The class meets biweekly, and the students are evaluated on the basis of participation, short book reviews, and a final paper.

Core Reading List for “Chinese Nation” Tutorial

 I.  Writings by Important Intellectual and Political Figures of 20th-century China (titles available in English are yet to be specified)

  •  Chiang Kai-shek
  • Hu Shih
  • Kang Youwei
  • Li Dazhao
  • Liang Qichao
  • Mao Zedong
  • Sun Yat-sen
  • Yang Du
  • Zhang Binglin

 II.  Major Works on Political China

  •  Bergere, Marie-Claire.  Sun Yat-sen. 
  • Chow Tse-tsung.  The May 4th Movement: Intellectual Revolution in Modern China.
  • Dirlik, Arif.  The Origins of Chinese Communism.
  • Eastman, LIoyd.  The Nationalist Era in China, 1927-1949.
  • Fitzgerald, John.  Awakening China: Politics, Culture, and Class in the Nationalist Revolution.
  • Garver, John.  Chinese-Soviet Relations: The Diplomacy of Chinese Nationalism, 1937-1945.
  • Meisner, Maurice.  Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic.
  • Menala, Eraz.  The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anti-Colonial Nationalism.
  • Panstrov, Alexander V.  Mao: The Real Story.
  • Schwarcz, Vera.  The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919.
  • Selden, Mark.  China in Revolution: Yenan Way Revisited. 
  • Taylor, Jay.  The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China.
  • Vogel, Ezra.  Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China.
  • Zarrow, Peter.  After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State.

III.  Major Works on Multiethnic China

  • Dreyer, June Teufel.  China’s Forty Millions.
  • Liu Xiaoyuan.  Frontier Passages: Ethnopolitics and the Rise of Chinese Communism.
  • Mackerras, Colin.  China’s Minorities: Integration and Modernization in the 20th Century.
  • Mullaney, Thomas.  Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China.
  • Reardon-Anderson, James.  Reluctant Pioneers: China’s Expansion Northward, 1644-1937.
  • Shao Dan.  Remote Homeland, Recovered Borderland: Manchus, Manchukuo, and Manchuria, 1907-1985.
  • Goldstein, Melvyn D. A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State.
    • ----.  A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 2: The Calm before the Storm, 1951-1955.
    • ----.  A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 3: The Storm Clouds Descend, 1955-1957.
  • Lin Hsiao-ting.  Tibet and Nationalist China’s Frontier: Intrigues and Ethnopolitics, 1928-1949.
  • Shakya, Tsering.  The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947.
  • Tuttle, Gray.  Tibetan Buddhists in the Making of Modern China.
  • Wang Lixiong and Tsering Shakya, The Struggle for Tibet.
  • Benson, Linda. The Ili Rebellion: The Moslem Challenge to Chinese Authority in Xinjiang, 1944-1949.
  • Forbes, Andrew. Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republican Sinkiang, 1911-1949.
  • Millward, James.  Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang.
  • Rudelson, Justin J.  Oasis Identities: Uyghur Nationalism along China’s Silk Road.
  • Perdue, Peter.  China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia.
  • Wang, David.  Under the Soviet Shadow: The Yining Incident.
  • Bulag, Uradyn E.  Collaborative Nationalism: Politics of Friendship on China’s Mongolian Frontier.
    • ----.  The Mongols at China’s Edge: History and Politics of National Unity.
    • ----.  Nationalism and Hybridity in Mongolia.
  • Jagchid, Sechin.  The Last Mongol Prince: The Life and Times of Demchugdonrob, 1902-1966.
  • Liu Xiaoyuan, Reins of Liberation: An Entangled History of Mongolian Independence, Chinese Territoriality, and Great Power Hegemony, 1911-1950.
Course Instructor: 


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Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
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