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Learning from the West - China's Science and Engineering Education

Zhang Wei (Tsinghua University, Beijing)

Before 1840 - Pre-Opium War Period. The dawn of modern science and technology in China. 1840 - 1900. China was defeated in five wars, provoked by Western powers and Japan. The government of the late Qing Dynasty was compelled to revise its close-door policy and tried to learn from the West, especially their technology. Two ways were adopted: to send young men to study in western countries, mostly to the United States to learn modern technology and to establish universities in modern sense to train young scientists and engineers.

Chronologically it could be divided into 5 periods:

  1. from the 2nd half of the 19th century to 1905, the year of the abolition of the Imperial examination


  2. from 1905 to 1919, the May 4th Movement.

  3. from 1919, May 4th Movement to 1949, the founding of the People's Republic of China.

  4. from 1949 to 1977 after 10 years of "Cultural Revolution".

  5. from 1978 up to now, since the adoption of reform and open-door policy.

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