Charlotte Lee
History, Law, Politics, Cultural Geography, Political Science
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Homework/Assignment, Lecture, Lecture Notes, Lesson, Lesson Plan
Community College / Lower Division
  • China
  • Chinese History
  • Chinese Politics
  • International Relations
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    Contemporary China in the World

    Contemporary China in the World


    Introductory module on contemporary China in the world. Intended for community college students and lower division students enrolled in relevant courses in global studies, international studies, international relations, Asian studies, and political science. Includes suggested readings, lesson plan, and ancillary materials (lecture slides, notes, and student handout).

    Lesson Plan

    Lesson Plan: Contemporary China in the World

    Topics: Contemporary China’s international relations, the China Dream, Belt and Road Initiative

    Estimated Time: 150-180 minutes (approx. one week of instruction in a semester-long course)

    Suggested courses: Introductory college-level courses in Global Studies, Asian Studies, International Relations


    Assigned Materials:

    1. Huang, Y. et al. (n.d.). China’s Approach to Global Governance. Council on Foreign Relations InfoGuide.
    2. Regilme, J. S. S. F., & Hodzi, O. (2021). Comparing US and Chinese Foreign Aid in the Era of Rising Powers. The International Spectator, 56(2), 114-131.
    3. Xi, J. (2012 November 29). Achieving Rejuvenation Is the Dream of the Chinese People. Speech made when visiting the exhibition “The Road to Rejuvenation” at the National Museum of China.
    4. McBride, J., Berman, N. & Chatzky, A. (2023). China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative. Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder.
    5. Pathak, S. (2015). The ‘Peace’ in China’s Peaceful Rise. E-IR.

    Introducing the assigned materials:

    The materials associated with this unit explore different aspects of contemporary China’s global impact. The Huang et al. web interactive presents an introduction to the topic of “China in the world,” with emphasis on major historical events and key leaders. It surveys China’s integration into the international system over the past century and a half and is intended for lower division students who do not have prior experience with the study of international affairs or China.

    The second reading places China’s foreign aid regime in comparative perspective and explores patterns in Chinese and American foreign aid to provide insights on national goals and priorities.

    The Xi Jinping speech is a primary source that students are asked to engage with during a “think pair share” activity about midway through the unit. The speech presents the concept of a China Dream, which reflects both national aspirations as well as hopes for a re-centering of China in the international community.

    The McBride et al. web interactive and Pathak reading form the foundation for an examination of Chinese foreign policy rhetoric and actual policy. Students will examine China’s claims to a “peaceful rise” as well as its Belt and Road Initiative.

    Learning Objectives:

    By the end of this lesson plan, students will be able to:

    1. Define key concepts which shape China’s engagement with the world
    2. Analyze Chinese approaches to international affairs
    3. Evaluate how Chinese leaders have framed China in the world


    Lesson Component


    Lecture: Review learning objectives

    Lecture slides

    Brainstorm/write on board: How does a country and a people engage with the world?

    Lecture slides

    Whiteboard for class discussion of question prompts on slide

    Lecture and discussion: Contemporary China in the world

    Readings 1 and 2

    Lecture slides

    Think Pair Share: Respond to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech on the China Dream

    Reading 3

    Lecture slides

    Student worksheet

    Additional instructor resources:

    1. *China Daily. (2014). Background: Connotations of Chinese Dream.

    (*Note that China Daily is a government-run newspaper of the People’s Republic of China)

    2. New York Times article and brief video on the American Dream:

    Ulloa, J. (2022, Aug. 21). How a Storied Phrase Became a Partisan Battleground. New York Times.

    Application and discussion: Case study of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and “peaceful rise”

    Readings 4 and 5

    Lecture slides

    Additional instructor resources:

    1. Morrison, J. (2019). China’s Economic Rise. Congressional Research Service.

    2. Steil, B. (2022). Belt and Road Tracker. Council on Foreign Relations.

    Conclude and wrap-up

    Lecture slides





    Readings and Handouts

    Suggested readings and handouts per lesson plan

    Lecture Slides

    Lecture slides per lesson plan