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China in the Red
teachers guide

Post-Viewing Activities

What Happened?

The lesson will take approximately 45 minutes.

  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • A Blending of Socialism and Capitalism
  • Meeting the People

  • During-Viewing Lesson Plan
  • Watching the People

  • Post-Viewing Activities
  • What Happened?
  • Globalization and a Changing Society
  • Literature as a Window Into Culture I
  • Literature as a Window Into Culture II

  • Resources

  • Summary of China's Economy
  • Glossary

  • Student Assignment Sheets
  • A Brief Overview of China
  • Economic Giants
  • The People
  • Meeting the People
  • Viewing Chart
  • Literature Comparison Chart
  • Lesson Objectives

    In this lesson students will:

    • To enable students to see effects of economic reforms on people they have met in the documentary.
    • To provide the impetus for "conversation" among the people students have met in the documentary.
    • To encourage students to think beyond the individual people to larger issues.


    • Instruct students who have taken the roles of the same person to sit together.
    • Give them five minutes to discuss what has happened to "their" person over the course of the four years.
    • Ask students in each group to present what has happened to "their" person to the rest of the class. Instruct the other students to take notes in the appropriate boxes on their worksheet.
    • Ask students to discuss briefly what they think will happen over the next years to each of the people they have been discussing.


    • Completing the chart.
    • Participation in discussion.

    Globalization and a Changing Society

    The lesson will require 50 to 100 minutes depending on the options that you select.

    Lesson Objectives

    In this lesson students will:

    • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of a planned economy to a free market economy.
    • Discuss the interrelationship of capitalism and changes in social values in China.
    • Investigate reasons for support and criticisms of globalization.

    Materials Needed

    • Computers with Internet access
    • Glossary


    1. After viewing the documentary, have students answer the following questions on a sheet of paper.

    • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a planned economy for ordinary workers? For the government?
    • What kinds of people are most likely to benefit from a free market economy?
    • What kinds of people are most likely to suffer from a free market economy?
    • What social services decreased as the Chinese economy moved toward a free market economy?
    • How are the Chinese teenagers' values different from their parents?
    • How was the young man who came to study refrigerator repair in Beijing exploited?
    • Why is it that corruption seems to be a part of a rapidly changing economy?
    • What effect do you think the arrest of Mayor Mu will have on political corruption?
    • What did you notice in the documentary about the impact of globalization in China?

    2. After students have finished, discuss their answers and compile a class list.

    3. After completing the list, have the students write a short essay evaluating the following statement:

    "Although the impact of economic reform
    has been difficult for some Chinese, ultimately
    this will create a better society."

    The following are suggested requirements for students' essays:

    • Include an introduction with thesis statement.
    • Support your stance with at least five facts from the video and/or class discussion.
    • Include any relevant personal knowledge.
    • Use a summary to conclude your essay.


    • Participation in discussion.
    • Grading of written work.

    Extending the Lesson

    1. Assign as homework one of the following writing activities:

    • Write a protest essay in the voice of one of the people who feels exploited.
    • Write in the voice of an entrepreneur, defending gaining wealth by any means.
    • Write a letter from a Chinese parent to his or her child, expressing your hopes, frustrations and fears.
    • Write a letter from a Chinese child to his or her parent, expressing your hopes, frustrations and fears.

    2. Globalization is a hotly debated complex subject. If you would like to have your students become more aware of this topic consider the following sites.

    A World Connected
    This website has a tremendous number of links to sites and organizations that support or oppose globalization. Each student could be assigned to review one link and do a summary of the major positions. Students could then compile their information during a class discussion.
    This website has an excellent lesson on globalization. The homepage has a link to their lesson plans at the top right. Type in globalization in the area that says "Select Lesson Plans" and select 9-12 in the area labeled "Grade Level." This will connect you to a lesson that compares the impact of globalization on "... modern culture in developed countries and on indigenous cultures."

    Literature as a Window into Culture I: Chinese-American Authors

    This activity will take 45 to 60 minutes if students read the passages for homework the preceding night, longer if you allow time to read in class.

    Note to Teachers: The following activities will encourage your students to read or re-read four short pieces of literature. The first pair of pieces comes from authors you and your students might already know: Chinese-American writers Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. The second pair of authors will, most likely, be unfamiliar to you and your students. These pieces come from Wei Hui and Mian Mian, young women writing in China today. Their work has been alternately banned and available in China, and some websites that had made their work available have since been blocked, but their novels have recently been published in English.

    Lesson Objectives

    • To allow students to read the voices of writers of imaginative literature over the past four decades.
    • To think about what it means to have a voice and an identity.
    • To introduce students to counter-cultural literature in China today.

    Materials Needed

    • Copies of The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, first published in 1975, and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, first published in 1989.
      (Note: Both these works are copyright-protected and are not available on the Internet. For one-time, face-to-face teaching purposes, you may photocopy short passages. For further information on copyright laws, consult your school's policy on reproducing materials.)

    • Copies of Student Assignment Sheet: Literature Comparison Chart.


    • Assign students to read the first few pages from the last chapter, "A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe," of The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, beginning with the sentence "Maybe that's why my mother cut my tongue." This sentence occurs about a page into the chapter. Read a few pages, at least as far as "At recess we had the school to ourselves, and also we could roam as far as we could go -- downtown, Chinatown stores, home -- as long as we returned before the bell rang."

    • Assign students to read "Double Face," a chapter near the end of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Read (at least) approximately four pages, ending with "I am seeing myself and my mother, back in China, when I was a young girl."

    • After students have read the passages, ask them to look at the Literature Comparison Chart. Instruct them to work in pairs and to write under each column, in short phrases from the chapter or in their own words, how each author identifies "Chinese" and "American" characteristics.

    • After students have completed the handout, ask each of them to write a page, agreeing or disagreeing with the following statement. (Note: Students can use their pages as the basis for discussion.)
    • Under the economic reforms in China, contemporary Chinese people have to adopt a combination of what Tan and Kingston identify as "American" and "Chinese" characteristics.


    Literature as a Window into Culture II: Chinese Authors

    This activity will take 45 to 60 minutes if students read the passages for homework the preceding night, longer if you allow time to read in class.

    Lesson Objectives

    • To have students consider why the Chinese ban certain types of literature.
    • To allow students to think about teen rebellion.

    Materials Needed


    • Instruct students to recollect the rebellion, however small, against traditional culture represented by family and the state of some of the young people in the documentary China in the Red. They might think particularly of students who do not wish to study and of the 30-something photographer who wants to devote himself to his art.

    • Ask students to think about why and how young people in the United States rebel against their parents and society.

    • Ask students to read both the selections from Shanghai Baby and Candy. (Note: You will have to click on the links within the site to see both passages.)

    • After they read the passages by Wei Hu and Mian Mian, instruct students to think about why these authors have been banned by Chinese authorities. Lead them in a discussion of what behaviors and values Chinese authorities clearly find problematic.


    • Writing assignment: Writing in the voice of a Chinese censor, discuss why you have decided to ban Mian Mian and Wei Hu.

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