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History of China

The ancient history of China reflects the beauty of Chinese ancient culture and morality. With more than 5000 years of history, China has a wonderful culture and splendid civilization.

Xia Dynasty
Xia dynasty is the first prehistoric country in China's history. According to the history record, Xia was built by Qi, the son of Yu, who killed his brother Yi and abolished the system of demise. It was the first country in China's history. After that, the demise system has been replaced by hereditary system.

There were 13 generations and 16 kings in Xia dynasty. The capital area of Xia dynasty was located in the western part of Henan and the northern part of Shanxi. It was said that the regime of the Xia has been stoped at some time. It was Shaokang to rebuild Xia dynasty. After that, Xia declined continuously and was replaced by Shang dynasty finishing its 400 years of existing.

Because there were no words to record the events of Xia dynasty, most of the information of Xia was learned from some ancient record, including the remains of the king, officials and the prison conditions.

In recent years, many huge palace, mausoleum and bronze have been unearthed. They also reflected from another side the politics, economic, cultural and life. This help people learn more about the first and special age in China's history.

As the first prehistoric country in China mainland, Xia dynasty is an important dinasty with great history research. It's rich culture plays a important role in the culture of China and the whole history of China.

Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty originated from the Zhou clan whose existence stretches back into history. By the 11th Century BC, the Zhou Clan had become increasingly powerful and had extended throughout the present Shaanxi and Gansu Provinces. The Zhou Clan's mightiness increasingly menaced the Shang Dynasty and the conflict between the two groups intensified.

At that time, the Shang Dynasty was under the rule of King Zhou. He was atrocious to his people and doted on his imperial concubine, Daji. All he did caused great rage amongst his people. The chief of the Zhou Tribe, Zhou Wenwang thought it was the right time to attack the Shang Dynasty and entrusted his son Ji Fa to fulfill his last wish. After Zhou Wenwang died, his son Ji Fa (Zhou Wuwang) succeeded him. He made full preparations for the war and killed King Zhou. Thus the Shang Dynasty ended in 1046 BC.

The Spring and Autumn Period
Although there were many civil strife and in the period of disunity, the Spring and Autumn period saw a great prosperity in cultural movement and development. It has been called the golden age in China's history.

The civil war of the period was leaded by the different interest of each empire. Each empire tried its best to seize more fields and more people. This situation was also good for the unity of the whole country. But too many wars and civil strife made the people in the period live a sad and depressed life. It was in the depressed society, the reform and new life is eagerly needed by most of people. So there appeared the hundred schools of thoughts in the period.

The regional lords wanted to build a strong and a big administrative are so that they can collect more taxation and build a strong army to defeat other regional lords.

In order to develop the economic and military as well as the production, the regional lords need a lot of skilled and literature officials and excellent teachers to help them. Thus the great thoughts and ideas were produced in the situation.

The uses of iron have improved the production of agriculture and the iron was also used to forge as weapons.Numerous of Walls were built around the cities and the board of every country.

It is in the situation that many philosophies were produced to conduct and analyze the disunity conditions. The hundred schools of thoughts were appeared under the great situations.

The thoughts and the discipline of the great thinkers influenced the Chinese history until today.

Qin Dynasty
Qin Shinhuang, called Yingzheng, was the son of Zhuang Rangwang (some one has said he was the bastard of Li Buwei, a famous figure in China history) He was a great politics, military leader, and the first emperor of China. He enthroned when he was thirteen years old and become the emperor in his 39. In the end of War period, Qin has become the strongest state that can unify the other six small eastern states.

When Yingzheng was enthroned, Li Buwei held a very important position in the offical. In 238B.C., he controled the power to govenrn the whole countryand deposed Li's position and promoted Li Shi and Wei Liao and so on.

From 230B.C. to 221B.C, Qin destroyed Han, Wei, Chu, Yan, Zhao and Qi six small states around China. And finally he established the first untied, multi-ethnic and feudal country in China's history.

After Qin Shihuang unified the six states, he thought himself made the biggest contribution. So he called him self Huang Di which in Chinese means glory, greatness and beauty.

Qin Shi Huang in English means the beginning emperor who declared his sons and grandson will be called the second generation and the third generation even the ten thousand generation. He had fancied that his position would pass from one generation to thousands of generation. He established a systematic official from the regional to the central government and he has the great right to control the whole country by himself.

Based on the law of ancient, Qin absorbed other six states' regulation and laws and made the unified law and put them into practice. He removed the former six states' important officials to the inner China in order to control them well. He announced the folk can not collect weapons. The weapons he seized from the people to be melted to 12 iron man.

Through these regulations and laws, Qin Shi Huang had control the whole country mightily, while the Qin people lead a depressed life and a sorrow life.

Han Dynasty
After Qin was overthrew by the peasants rebellion, Liu Bang and Xiang Yu were two leaders that struggled to seize the regime position of a new dyansty. They have gone against each other and at last Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu to be the first emperor of Han dynasty. Chang'an became capital during the Han Dynasty after a short national war.

Building upon the base of Qin dynasty, the new empire retained much of the Qin administrative structure but retreated a little from centralized rule by establishing vassal principalities in some areas for the sake of political convenience.

Instead of using the previous harsher and crule laws and regulation against the common people. The Han rulers modified some of the harsher aspects of the previous dynasty; Confucian ideals of government, out of favor during the Qin period, were adopted as the creed of the Han Empire, and Confucian scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service.

A civil service examination system also was initiated. Intellectual, literary, and artistic endeavors revived and flourished.

The Han period produced China's most famous historian, Sima Qian ( 145-87 B.C.?), whose Shiji ( Historical Records) provides a detailed chronicle from the time of a legendary Xia emperor to that of the Han emperor Wu Di 141-87 B.C.).

Technological advances also marked this period. Two of the great Chinese inventions, paper and porcelain, date from Han times.

The Han dynasty, after which the members of the ethnic majority in China, the "people of Han," are named, was notable also for its military prowess. The empire expanded westward as far as the rim of the Tarim Basin (in modern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region), making possible relatively secure caravan traffic across Central Asia to Antioch, Baghdad, and Alexandria.

The paths of caravan traffic are often called the "silk route" because the route was used to export Chinese silk to the Roman Empire. Chinese armies also invaded and annexed parts of northern Vietnam and northern Korea toward the end of the second century B.C.

Han control of peripheral regions was generally insecure, however. To ensure peace with non-Chinese local powers, the Han court developed a mutually beneficial "tributary system"

Non-Chinese states were allowed to remain autonomous in exchange for symbolic acceptance of Han overlordship.

Tributary ties were confirmed and strengthened through intermarriages at the ruling level and periodic exchanges of gifts and goods. After 200 years, Han rule was interrupted briefly (in A.D. 9-24 by Wang Mang or a reformer), and then restored for another 200 years.

The Han rulers, however, were unable to adjust to what centralization had wrought: a growing population, increasing wealth and resultant financial difficulties and rivalries, and ever-more complex political institutions. Riddled with the corruption characteristic of the dynastic cycle, by A.D. 220 the Han empire collapsed.

Tang Dynasty
By the end of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), China had witnessed disunity and chaos for about 270 years.

In 577, the Northern Zhou conquered the Northern Qi and reunified the North China. The Northern Zhou, known as the reign of Yuwen family of the Xianbei ethnic group, continued for 24 years with five emperors over three generations.

In 581, Yangjian, a relative of the royal family, usurped the throne and renamed the empire the Sui Dynasty with Chang'an (present Xian City in Shaanxi Province) as his capital city. Yangjian was historically called Emperor Wen.

After the founding of the empire, Emperor Wen quickly carried out a series of military plans to unify the country. Finally in 589, Emperor Wen wiped out the Chen Dynasty and reunified the south and the north.

Sui Dynasty lasted for only 38 years with two generations. History shows it was one of the short-lived Chinese dynasties. The Sui Dynasty's early demise was attributed to the government's tyranny and ceaseless wars.

Emperor Wen died unexpectedly in 604 and his second son Yangguang, historically known as Emperor Yang, succeeded to the throne.

In the early part of his reign Emperor Yang benefited from the reforms introduced by his father and the Sui Dynasty achieved full economic prosperity.

However, lulled by his easy success, Emperor Yang soon began to abuse his power. On the one hand, he continued to carry out lavish construction projects, such as the Great Wall, the Great Canal and the relocation of his capital in Luoyang.

On the other, he repeatedly went on pleasure trips and all too frequently launched wars on his neighbors. Some of Emperor Yang's policy did contributed a lot to the social development and the stability of the country, however, they made the ordinary people 'all out at the elbows'.

Emperor Yang's extravagance and putridness finally led to the exhaustion of the country's resources. Beginning in 613, rebellions broke out one by one. In 616, forced by the chaotic situation, Emperor Yang, retreated to Jiangdu (present Yangzhou City in Jiangsu Province).

With the emperor absent, Liyuan, a general stationed in Taiyuan, conquered Chang'an and put a new emperor on the throne.

In 618, Emperor Yang was murdered in Jiangdu by one of his aides. Quickly, Liyuan deposed the new emperor and established his own dynasty in Chang'an - the Tang Dynasty, declaring himself Emperor.

Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty was the last ruling of China from 1644 to 1912. Although the Manchus were not Han Chinese and were strongly resisted, especially in the south, they had assimilated a great deal of Chinese culture before conquering China Proper. Realizing that to dominate the empire they would have to do things the Chinese way, the Manchus retained many institutions of Ming and earlier Chinese derivation.

They continued the Confucian court practices and temple rituals, over which the emperors had traditionally presided.

The Manchus continued the Confucian civil service system. Although Chinese were barred from the highest offices, Chinese officials predominated over Manchu officeholders outside the capital, except in military positions.

The Neo-Confucian philosophy, emphasizing the obedience of subject to ruler, was enforced as the state creed. The Manchu emperors also supported Chinese literary and historical projects of enormous scope; the survival of much of China's ancient literature is attributed to these projects. Ever suspicious of Han Chinese, the Qing rulers put into effect measures aimed at preventing the absorption of the Manchus into the dominant Han Chinese population.

Han Chinese were prohibited from migrating into the Manchu homeland, and Manchus were forbidden to engage in trade or manual labor. Intermarriage between the two groups was forbidden.

In many government positions a system of dual appointments was used--the Chinese appointee was required to do the substantive work and the Manchu to ensure Han loyalty to Qing rule.

The Qing regime was determined to protect itself not only from internal rebellion but also from foreign invasion. After China Proper had been subdued, the Manchus conquered Outer Mongolia (now the Mongolian People's Republic) in the late seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century they gained control of Central Asia as far as the Pamir Mountains and established a protectorate over the area the Chinese call Xizang but commonly known in the West as Tibet.

The Qing thus became the first dynasty to eliminate successfully all danger to China Proper from across its land borders. Under Manchu rule the empire grew to include a larger area than before or since;

Taiwan, the last outpost of anti-Manchu resistance, was also incorporated into China for the first time. In addition, Qing emperors received tribute from the various border states.

The chief threat to China's integrity did not come overland, as it had so often in the past, but by sea, reaching the southern coastal area first. Western traders, missionaries, and soldiers of fortune began to arrive in large numbers even before the Qing, in the sixteenth century. The empire's inability to evaluate correctly the nature of the new challenge or to respond flexibly to it resulted in the demise of the Qing and the collapse of the entire millennia-old framework of dynastic rule.,
Author/Editor By : HCT