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China on the World Stage: Weighing the U.S. Response
Twelfth edition. February 2016.
China is on track to become a global superpower in the twenty-first century and is rapidly increasing its military strength. At the same time, the social, political, and economic forces of China's transition create uncertainty for the country's future. This curriculum explores the history of U.S.-China relations and prepares students to advocate different options for U.S. policy towards China in a simulation set in the U.S. Senate.
The readings prepare students to consider the complexities of U.S.-China relations. Part I surveys the history of the U.S. interactions with China. Part II explores the economic, social, and political dimensions of China's transformation under Deng Xiaoping and the impact of those changes for Chinese people today. Part III reviews the most critical issues on the current U.S.-China policy agenda, including trade tensions, human rights, and security concerns.
The Choices Role Play
This activity is a simulation in which students examine four options for U.S. policy. Each option has a different perspective on U.S-China relations. By exploring this spectrum of alternatives, students gain a deeper understanding of the values and beliefs underlying U.S. foreign policy and are prepared to develop their own policy recommendations.
The History of U.S.–China Relations Through Primary Sources
Using excerpts from three key documents, students analyze the attitudes and perceptions that have framed U.S.–China relations over the last 150 years.
Looking at China
Students analyze photographs of present-day China to learn about Chinese life and society. Students consider the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a source for learning about China.
Art and Politics: Ai Weiwei
Students assess a contemporary artist's controversial response to censorship in China. Students consider the role of artists in society and explore the use of art as political expression.
Xu Wenli and the China Democracy Party
Students explore the topic of political prisoners and watch videos of Xu Wenli, a Chinese dissident and democracy advocate. Xu describes his time in prison and the democracy movement in China.
Using multiple sources—such as news articles, public opinion data, leaders' statements, and political cartoons—students examine the basics of the conflict across the Taiwan Strait.
U.S. and Chinese Perspectives
Students assess a 2015 joint speech by Presidents Obama and Xi. They evaluate language for tone to gain a better understanding of different perspectives on U.S.-China relations.
The Umbrella Movement: Protests in Hong Kong
Students analyze photographs of the 2014 protests in Hong Kong and explore symbols and messages that protesters used to express their views.
The Options Role Play
Working cooperatively, students explore four different options for U.S. foreign policy in a role-play activity.
Tracking China's Future
Armed with historical knowledge and a sense of their own values, students deliberate the options presented. They articulate coherent recommendations for U.S. policy and defend their views in a letter to a newspaper or a member of Congress.