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Internet East Asian History Sourcebook

Editor: Paul Halsall

There is no way of avoiding the fact that China is the central culture of Eastern Asia. Massively larger than any of her neighbors, China may have developed its cultural forms in relative isolation, but since the advent of Buddhism has both absorbed outside influences and disseminated its own culture. Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures are not comprehensible without taking into account thepower of Chinese culture in art, literature and religion.

Chinese culture itself is highly complex, and the other East Asian cultures also reflect local circumstances and traditions. For instance the (later) Chinese ideal of a scholar-gentleman contrasts strongly with Japanese warrior ideals. It is not going to far to suggest that the very different responses of the various East Asian to the Western intrusion of the past two centuries reflect the variety of previous historical developments.


This page is a subset of texts derived from the three major online Sourcebooks listed below, along with added texts and web site indicators. For more contextual information, for instance about Western imperialism, or the history of a given period, check out these web sites. Since it was created in 1996 many of the primary sources and texts linked to have gone off line. Where possible links to the Internet Archive versions of these documents have been substituted as they should still be of use to teachers and students.

Notes: In addition to direct links to documents, links are made to a number of other web resources.
Link to a secondary article, review or discussion on a given topic.
Link to a website focused on a specific issue.. These are not links to every site on a given topic, but to sites of serious educational value.


Cultural Origins


Yellow River Valley Cultures


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Religious Traditions


Chinese Traditional Religion


  • Japanese Creation Myth  [Was At WSU, now Internet Archive]
    From Genji Shibukawa: Tales from the Kojiki, 713 CE







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Imperial China


The Zhou

The Qin

The Han

The Sui and Tang

The Sung

The Mongols [Yüan]

The Ming

The Qing

Chinese Technology


Education in Traditional China

Chinese Views on Other Cultures

Other Cultures' Views of China

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Traditional Japan



Tokugawa Era



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Japanese Rule

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The Western Intrusion


European Imperialism

British East Asia

Other European Powers in East Asia

United States' Imperialism


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Japan as a World Power


The Forced Opening

The Meiji Restoration

The Greater East Asia Prosperity Zone

World War II

Use of Atomic Bomb

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China's Disaster:1840-1949


  • WEB Primary Sources: CHINA [At Asia for Educators-Columbia University] [Internet Archive version here]
    A really good collection of primary sources translated specially for teaching purposes.
  • Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, (New York: Random House, 1987), pp. 3-30 [extended excerpts are online]
  • The Hai-lu, a Chinese traveler's account of the West in the 18th century.[Was At BC, now Internet Archive]
  • One China, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1996 [At The Atlantic] [Internet Archive backup here]
    Coverage by the magazine of China in the 20th century.

Rejection of the West

Government Efforts to Reform

Religion and Rebellion

Modernization: The May 4th Movement

  • Yan Phou Lee: When I Went to School in China 1880 [At this Site]
    A late Confucian education - and what was attacked by the May 4th Movement.
  • Luxun Two Selections from His Writing [Was At BC, now Internet Archive]
  • Luxun Lu Hsun (1881-1936): Selected Stories of Lu Hsun, Translated by Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang, full text of 20 stories. [Was At Cold Bacon, now Internet Archive]
    A leading May 4th Movement writer.
  • Image: People: The writer Lu Xun


Early Communism

The Chinese in America

  • California: Anti-Coolie Act, 1862 [At Drug Library] [Internet Archive version here]
    "An Act to protect free White labor against competition with Chinese collie labor, and to discourse the immigration of the Chinese into the state of California, April 26, 1862"
  • San Francisco Chinatown Opium Den – 1870's [Image][At Drug Library]
  • Chinese Miners in the Gold Fields - 1860 [Image][At Drug Library]
  • Chinatown Declared a Nuisance! [At Drug Library] [Internet Archive version here]
    This is the full text of a sixteen-page pamphlet, "Chinatown Declared a Nuisance!"; distributed by the Workingmen's Committee of California, it called for the abatement of Chinatown as a health menace.
  • Albert S. Evans: A Cruise on the Barbary Coast, Chapter 12 of A la California. Sketch of Life in the Golden State, c, 1871. [At Drug Library] [Internet Archive version here]

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China Since World War II


The "Liberation"

The 1950s

The Cultural Revolution

Chinese Foreign Relations

The Four Modernizations

Hong Kong

  • Atlantic Report: Hong Kong, The Atlantic Monthly, June 1957 [At The Atlantic] [Internet Archive version here]
    Hong Kong still in the early stages of its emergence as an economic powerhouse.
  • Maynard Parker: Report on Hong Kong, The Atlantic Monthly,  November 1967 [At The Atlantic] [Internet Archive version here]
    Hong Kong in the face of  Mao's Cultural Revolution.
  • Cait Murphy: A Culture of Emigration, The Atlantic Monthly, April, 1991 [At The Atlantic] [Internet Archive version here]
    The growing unease among Chinese Hong Kong citizens about the impending Chinese rule.
  • Hong Kong Constitution, 1990 [Was At ICL, now Internet Archive]

Taiwan [Republic of China]

  • Taiwan (Republic of China) Constitution, 1994 [Was At ICL, now Internet Archive]


Tiananmen Square, 1989

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Japan Since World War II


American Occupation

Economic Growth


  • WEB Japanese Aesthetics [Was At Baylor, now Internet Archive]
  • Tanaka Kotaro: In Search of Truth and Peace, excerpts, 1952  [At this Site]
  • Ruth Benedict: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture (1946), full text] [At Faded Page] [Internet Archive backup here]
    The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture is a 1946 study of Japan by American anthropologist Ruth Benedict. It was written at the invitation of the U.S. Office of War Information in order to understand and predict the behavior of the Japanese in World War II. . . The book was influential in shaping American ideas about Japanese culture during the occupation of Japan, and popularized the distinction between guilt cultures and shame cultures.

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Korea Since World War II


The Korean War

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Other East Asian Countries


  • Cambodia Constitution, 1993 [Was At Cambodian, now Internet Archive]
  • Tibet Constitution 1991 [Was At ICL, now Internet Archive]
    This is the constitution of the "government in exile".
  • Mongolia Constitution, 1992 [Was At ICL, now Internet Archive]
  • Nepal Constitution, 1990 [Was At ICL, now Internet Archive]
  • Singapore Constitution, 1995 [Was At ICL, now Internet Archive]
  • The Manila Accord, 1963 [At this Site]
    Between Malaya, Indonesia and the  Philippines,

The Non-Aligned Movement

Addendum: The Vietnam War

Addendum: Asian-Pacific Immigrants in the US

  • John W. Foster: The Chinese Boyctt, The Atlantic Monthly, January 1906 [At The Atlantic] [Internet Archive version here]
    Criticizes America's discrimination against Chinese immigrants in America as racist. This behavior incited a Chinese boycott of American trade.
  • Lowell Weiss: Timing is Everything, The Atlantic Monthly, January1994 [Was At The Atlantic, now Internet Archive]
    The fate of two groups of Vietnamese immigrants in America.
  • Roy Beck: The Ordeal of Immigration in Wausau, The Atlantic Monthly, April 1994 [Was At The Atlantic, now Internet Archive]
    Effects of  Southeast Asian refugees in Wausau.

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East Asian Genders and Sexualities

Women: China

Women: Japan


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Further Resources on East Asian History

[Note this was once quite an extensive section, but guides to the web turned out to be very hard to maintain. Good advice now is to look up East Asian topics on Wikipedia and consult the further resources links at the bottom of many articles. Wikipedia is never a place to end research but it is a good place to start.]

  • E-Texts
    • WEB Asia for Educators [Columbia University]
      This is a truly excellent site providing primary sources, lesson plans, focused sub-siites for educators who want to include East Asian materials in their classes.
    • WEB Chinese Text Project
      The Chinese Text Project is an online open-access digital library that makes pre-modern Chinese texts available to readers and researchers all around the wor
    • WEB WWW Virtual Library: Asian Studies [Archived]
  • Web Guides: East Asia
    • WEB
  • Web Guides: China
    • WEB
  • Web Guides: Japan
    • WEB
  • Web Sites: Japanese History
    • WEB
  • Web Guides: Korea
    • WEB
  • Academic History/Culture Sites

Other Resources

General Reference Documents

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© This text is copyright. The specific electronic form, and any notes and questions are copyright. Permission is granted to copy the text, and to print out copies for personal and educational use. No permission is granted for commercial use.

If any copyright has been infringed, this was unintentional. The possibility of a site such as this, as with other collections of electronic texts, depends on the large availability of public domain material from texts translated before 1927. [In the US, all texts issued before 1927 are now in the public domain. Texts published before 1964 may be in the public domain if copyright was not renewed after 28 years. This site seeks to abide by US copyright law: the copyright status of texts here outside the US may be different.] Efforts have been made to ascertain the copyright status of all texts here, although, occasionally, this has not been possible where older or non-US publishers seem to have ceased existence. Some of the recently translated texts here are copyright to the translators indicated in each document. These translators have in every case given permission for non-commercial reproduction. No representation is made about the copyright status of texts linked off-site. This site is intended for educational use. Notification of copyright infringement will result in the immediate removal of a text until its status is resolved.


The Internet East Asian History Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. The date of inception was 1998. Links to files at other site are indicated by [At some indication of the site name or location]. WEB indicates a link to one of small number of high quality web sites which provide either more texts or an especially valuable overview.

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 3 May 2024 [CV]