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China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945

2. Cultural Exchange

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the cultural relationship between China and Japan, focusing in particular on: (i) the shared cultural heritage of China and Japan, and the extent the cultural influence was traditionally unidirectional from China to Japan; (ii) the extent to which Japanese thinkers from the mid-19th century onwards attempted to distance themselves from their East Asian heritage; (iii) the importance of Fukuzawa Yukichi and his essay ‘On Leaving Asia’; (iv) the Chinese practice of sending students to study in other countries – Europe, the United States, but also Japan – and the exposure to new ideas (e.g. democracy, nationalism, socialism) that such visits entailed; (v) the extent to which Japanese groups and individuals offered support to Chinese radicals and revolutionaries who would later be central figures after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911; (vi) the extent to which these personal connections shaped Sino-Japanese relations later in the 20th century; (vii) the (skewed?) expression that the Japanese gained of China from their experience in Manchuria; and (viii) the extent to which the influx of Japanese into northern Manchuria were helpful to China – or harmful.


In this course, Dr Marjorie Dryburgh (University of Sheffield) explores the relationship between China and Japan between c.1840-1945, with a particular focus on the events that led to the outbreak of war between the two nations in July 1937. In the first module, we think about the longer-term political context of Sino-Japanese relations (from the mid-19th century onwards) before turning in the second module to consider the cultural relationship between China and Japan. In the third module, we think about the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, followed in the fourth module by an brief exploration of life in Japanese-occupied Manchuria (referred to by the Japanese as Manchukuo). In the fifth module, we think about why the Marco Polo Bridge Incident escalated so quickly into war, before turning in the sixth module to consider the Chinese experience of war more generally – including the notorious ‘Nanjing Massacre’ of December 1937. Finally, in the seventh module, we think about the incorporation of the Sino-Japanese War into the Second World War more generally – particularly after the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor – and the (in)effectiveness of China’s international diplomacy in the face of the Japanese threat.


Dr Marjorie Dryburgh is Lecturer in Chinese Studies in the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. She works on the modern history of China, with specific interests in China’s relations with Japan before 1945, regional and urban histories, and the conventions and uses of life writing.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Dryburgh, M. (2021, February 11). China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945 - Cultural Exchange [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Dryburgh, M. "China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945 – Cultural Exchange." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Feb 2021,