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History tells us that peaceful empires are very rare. In the 21st century, China is the fastest-growing world power. China claims that its rise is peaceful: it has no plans to invade and conquer new territory. But is it possible for any nation to grow without causing any conflicts? In the 15th century the Chinese explorer Zheng sailed across the Eastern Hemisphere from Taiwan to India to Arabia to Africa. He was on a trade mission, but the kingdoms he encountered were not really free to choose whether or not they would become part of the Chinese trade empire. This public radio story looks at China’s past to draw some conclusions about its future.
Story Length: 7:47
© 2011 National Public Radio, Inc. Used with the permission of NPR. All rights reserved.
AIR DATE: 06/06/2011
Chinese foot-binding was a common practice in the 1800s. This practice created tiny stumps of feet by breaking bones and wrapping the feet tightly. It was very painful, and made many women unable to walk properly. But the bound feet were prized by the wealthy class as the ultimate sign of feminine beauty. The custom was banned in 1912. This public radio story features women whose feet were bound talking about the pros and cons of this old Chinese tradition.
Rare earth minerals are very important to today's electronics. Your iPod, laptop, and television use them. They make electronics light so they don't need much power. But the Chinese have a lock on the production of rare earth elements and this could become a problem for the US.
Mao Zedong, or Chairman Mao, lead the Chinese communist revolution and ruled China with an iron fist from 1949 to 1976. Mao’s communist philosophy changed the government, economy and lifestyle of all Chinese people. Mao wanted to eliminate anything considered to be foreign, elitist, or in any way opposed to the communist system. A group called the Red Guard helped make this a reality. In this public radio story the Red Guard tells their story.
In 2005, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued an apology on behalf of the Japanese people for its colonial rule and aggression before and during World War II. The apology came at a time of increased tensions between Japan and its east Asian neighbors, including anger over Japanese textbooks that seemed to downplay the atrocities Koizumi was apologizing for. The story touches upon present day circumstances that can limit the effectiveness of such an apology. The story also raises powerful questions about how societies make meaning of the past, the legacy of oppression, and the degree to which history impacts the present day.
These levels of listening complexity can help teachers choose stories for their students. The levels do not relate to the content of the story, but to the complexity of the vocabulary, sentence structure and language in the audio story.
These stories are easier to understand and are a good starting point for elementary students or English learners.
These stories have an average language challenge for middle and high school students, and can be scaffolded for English learners.
These stories have challenging vocabulary and language and students may need to have some background knowledge to understand the story.