This course surveys Chinese history from the first civilizations near the Yangzi and Yellow (Huang He) River valleys to the 21st-century People's Republic of China under the 5th generation leadership of general secretary / president Xi Jinping.  Chinese history is incredibly rich and varied; since we cannot possibly cover it all in only one semester, we will be focusing on specific themes.  In particular, we will examine the rise and fall of the imperial state as based on a political alliance between Confucian scholar-officials and the emperor, the development of Chinese philosophy and religious ideas, China's interaction with the rest of the world, and the invention of a communist people's republic in 1949.  Today, China is one of the world's great superpowers.  It has the largest population in the world (1.3 billion people) and the world's largest army.  In fact, one in every five humans is Chinese!  China also has one of the world's largest economies (2nd or 3rd depending on what measurement is used) and is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.  China is also the single largest holder of U.S. foreign debt!  Given China's obvious important to contemporary economics and politics, it is vitally important for us to gain a clear understanding of Chinese history and culture.