This lesson plan I use for introducing students to the colonization of China and Opium wars. Students will understand how China and Britain think of themselves and each other and how those biases influence interactions.
Part I: Chinese characters
It helps here to have an understanding of Chinese but this part can be skipped or adjusted based on the teacher's knowledge.
Use the worksheet provided to write down and explain some of the Chinese characters.
明 is a combination of 日 and 月 (run and moon = bright) as an example of how characters are formed.
中国 is the Chinese name for China, a combination of middle and country. The Chinese see themselves as the center of the world. Compare this view with the Latin Mediterranean. Europeans and Chines both see themselves as the most powerful and most important to be the "center of the world."
The four classes of jobs founded in later Confucianism.
shi 士 officials, scholars, soldiers
nong 農 farmers
gong 工 workers (builders)
shang 商 merchants
Merchants are the lowest class because they do nothing to contribute to society, only to make profit for themselves.
Finally, use nu and 子 to form 好, meaning good. Women with children are considered good.
Part II Secondary Sources
Use the secondary sources packet to split the class into three groups. Answer the questions and have each group explain how China and Britain might class on the issue they read about. Fill out the conflict worksheet and have students answer the questions at the bottom.
Part III Primary Sources
Lin Zexu's letter to Queen Victoria
Lord Palmerston's letter to the Emperor
Organize a debate on the legal and moral issues that each side reflects in its primary sources.