China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and how they emerged in episodes of perceived threats to China’s sovereignty will be the focus of a Tuesday, Feb. 7, program when the Modern China Lecture Series resumes at Cal State San Bernardino.

Chinese Claims in the South China Sea: A Hundred-Year Struggle from Bird Poop (Guano) to Battlestations,” presented by Daria Ho, lecturer of history specializing in transnational China & East Asia at the University of Waterloo (Canada), in person beginning at 2:30 p.m. at CSUSB’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences building, room SB-210, and on Zoom at

The program is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.

Series organizer and professor of history, Jeremy Murray noted, “Dr. Daria Ho is a remarkable scholar whose work covers a wide range of topics in Chinese history, and which I have followed closely. She brings creativity, color, and humor to her writing and teaching, and we are very lucky to have her lead off an excellent spring slate of speakers.

“I’m also looking forward to other events in the series including Drs. Shelley Rigger and Hugh White, whose insightful commentary on contemporary politics is regularly seen in various news outlets,” he said. “These world-class scholars will leave attendees with a richer appreciation of China today.”

Ho’s presentation will begin with China’s early 20th-century competition with Japan for islands of guano (bird droppings) and then delve into the challenges posed by competitive mapping. It will conclude by examining today's controversial Chinese construction of militarized artificial islands and airstrips, namely the Chinese “great wall of sand” in the South China Sea's reefs and atolls.

Ho was a triple major as an undergraduate – history, economics and Asian Studies – at Rice University, and holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of California, San Diego. Her research interests include modern China, East Asia, Southeast Asia, maritime history, migration and borderlands, Tibet and the Himalayas and transnational Asian Modernity.

She served as director, producer and project creator for a documentary, “Living History: Remembering the “Forgotten” Korean War,” based on the Korean War history class that she taught at the University of Rochester in 2016.

The Modern China Lecture Series was initiated to promote awareness of important issues related to China for those on the CSUSB campus and in the community.

Over the course of more than 100 lectures, workshops, film screenings, and roundtable forums held since January 2014, experts in Chinese studies from various institutions, including UC San Diego, UC Riverside, the Claremont Colleges, UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, Columbia, Oxford, and others, have visited the CSUSB campus to contribute their expertise and perspectives.

Speakers in the series have included specialists in history, economics, political science, philosophy, finance, security studies, literature, anthropology and other fields. Recordings of about half of the previous talks in the series can be found at the CSUSB Modern China Lecture Series channel on YouTube.

Upcoming speakers in the series include:

The series cosponsors this year are the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Intellectual Life Fund. Series organizers are Jeremy Murray, professor of history, and Alexander Serrano, a UC Santa Barbara doctoral candidate.

For more information on the Modern China Lecture Series, contact Jeremy Murray at