The Opium Wars in China’s Junior High School Textbooks

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DanTing Li
Dararat Mattariganond
Benjawan Narasaj


The Opium Wars were major events in China as they brought significant changes to the course of Chinese history. The objective of this article is to analyze how one of the junior high school history textbooks in China describes the Opium Wars and integrates national ideology into the curriculum. The study applied historical research methods by analyzing the book’s content and structure. It found that that the Opium Wars are presented in chronological order in this book: The First Opium War (1840-1842) and the Second (1856-1860). the latter, also known as the Burning of the Summer Palace, was connected with the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Movement. The textbook points out the brutality of western countries in waging war upon China and their destruction of Chinese civilization, and praises China’s national heroes. There is an emphasis on patriotism, loyalty and courage for the self-sacrifice of national heroes in the depiction of the events, thereby interpolating national ideology in accordance with Marxist concepts, the main values of Chinese socialism, and Confucianism.

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How to Cite
Li, D., Mattariganond, D., & Narasaj, B. (2019). The Opium Wars in China’s Junior High School Textbooks. Journal of Mekong Societies, 15(2), 86–101. Retrieved from