History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various city-states along the Yellow River valley in the Neolithic era.
The written history of China begins with the Shang Dynasty (ca. 1550BCE - ca. 1046 BCE). The origins of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy, developed during the Zhou Dynasty (1045BCE to 256 BCE).
The Zhou Dynasty was the longest dynasty in Chinese history, from 1027 to approximately 221 B.C. By the end of the 2nd millennium BCE, the Zhou Dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River valley, overrunning the Shang. The Zhou appeared to have begun their rule under a semi-feudal system.The feudal Zhou Dynasty eventually broke apart into individual city states, creating the Warring States period. In 221 BCE, Qin Shi Huang united the various warring kingdoms and created the first Chinese empire
In the 8th century BCE, power became decentralized during the Spring and Autumn Period named after the influential Spring and Autumn Annals. In this period, local military leaders used by the Zhou began to assert their power and vie for hegemony. The situation was aggravated by the invasion of other peoples from the northwest, such as the Qin, forcing the Zhou to move their capital east to Luoyang. This marks the second large phase of the Zhou dynasty: the Eastern Zhou.
After further political consolidation, seven prominent states remained by the end of 5th century BCE, and the years in which these few states battled each other are known as the Warring States Period. Though there remained a nominal Zhou king until 256 BCE, he was largely a figurehead and held little real power.
The period from Qin Dynasty to the end of Qing Dynasty as Imperial China. Though the unified reign of the Qin, he managed to subdue great parts of what constitutes the core of the Han Chinese homeland and to unite them under a tightly centralized Legalist government seated at Xianyang.
The Qin Dynasty is well known for beginning the Great Wall of China, which was later augmented and enhanced during the Ming Dynasty.
The Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE) emerged in 206 BCE was the first dynasty to embrace the philosophy of Confucianism, which became the ideological underpinning of all regimes until the end of imperial China.
The first of several Roman embassies to China is recorded in Chinese sources, coming from the sea route in 166, and a second one in 284.
After Cao Cao reunified the North in 208CE, his son proclaimed the Wei dynasty in 220CE. Soon, Wei's rivals Shu and Wu proclaimed their independance, leading China into the Three Kingdoms Period. The Three Kingdoms were reunified by the Jin Dynasty in 280 CE, this structure was essentially the same until the Wu Hu uprising.
Following the collapse of East Jin Dynasty in 420, China entered the era of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. The Han people managed to survive the military attacks from the nomadic tribes of the north, such as the Xian Bei and their civilization continued to thrive.
In 589, Sui annexed the last Southern Dynasty, Chen, through military force, and put an end to the era of Southern and Northern Dynasties.
The Sui Dynasty which managed to reunite the country in 589 after nearly four centuries of political fragmentation brought China together again and set up many institutions that were to be adopted by their successors, the Tang. Like the Qin, however, the Sui overused their resources and collapsed
On June 18, 618 the Tang Dynasty was established, bringing an age of prosperity and innovations in arts and technology. Buddhism, which had gradually been established in China from the first century, became the predominant religion and was adopted by the imperial family and many of the common people.
The period of political disunity between the Tang and the Song, known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period lasted little more than half a century, from 907 to 960.
In 960, the Song Dynasty (960-1279) gained power over most of China. In 1115 the Jurchen Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) emerged to prominence, annihilating the Liao Dynasty in 10 years.
Southern Song experienced a period of great technological development which can be explained in part by the military pressure that it felt from the north. This included the use of gunpowder weapons, which played a large role in the Song Dynasty naval victories against the Jin in the Battle of Tangdao and Battle of Caishi on the Yangtze River in 1161.
The Song Dynasty is considered by many to be classical China's high point in science and technology.
Jurchen tribes' Jin Dynasty, whose names are also rendered "Jin" in pinyin, was defeated by the Mongols, who then proceeded to defeat the Southern Song in a long and bloody war, the first war where firearms played an important role. During the era after the war, later called the Pax Mongolica, adventurous Westerners such as Marco Polo travelled all the way to China and brought the first reports of its wonders to Europe.
Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty. This was the first dynasty to rule the whole of China.
The Yuan Dynasty was eventually overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368.
China under the early Ming Dynasty was not isolated. Foreign trade and other contacts with the outside world, particularly Japan, increased considerably. Chinese merchants explored all of the Indian Ocean, reaching East Africa with the voyages of Zheng He.
Emperor Yong-le strenuously tried to extend China's influence beyond its borders by demanding other rulers send ambassadors to China to present tribute.
In 1449 Esen Tayisi led an Oirat Mongol invasion of northern China which culminated in the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor at Tumu. In 1542 the Mongol leader Altan Khan began to harass China along the northern border. In 1550 he even reached the suburbs of Beijing.
During the Ming dynasty the last construction on the Great Wall was undertaken to protect China from foreign invasions.
The Manchus invaded from the north in the late seventeenth century. An estimated 25 million people died during the Manchu conquest of the Ming Dynasty (1616-1644). The Manchus adopted the Confucian norms of traditional Chinese government in their rule of China proper.
During the nineteenth century, Qing control weakened. Britain's desire to continue its opium trade with China collided with imperial edicts prohibiting the addictive drug, and the First Opium War erupted in 1840. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842 under the Treaty of Nanjing.
A large rebellion, the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864) only after fourteen years were the Taipings finally crushed - the Taiping army was destroyed in the Third Battle of Nanking in 1864. The death toll during the 15 years of the rebellion was about 20 million.
By the 1860s, the Qing Dynasty had put down the rebellions at enormous cost and loss of life.
At the start of the 20th century, the Boxer Rebellion threatened northern China. This was a conservative anti-imperialist movement that sought to return China to old ways. In response the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded China. Consisting of British, Japanese, Russian, Italian, German, French, US and Austrian troops, the alliance defeated the Boxers and demanded further concessions from the Qing government.
A revolutionary military uprising, the Wuchang Uprising, began on October 10, 1911 in Wuhan, and the provisional government of the Republic of China was formed in Nanjing on March 12, 1912 with Sun Yat-sen as President.
In the 1920s, Sun Yat-Sen established a revolutionary base in south China, and set out to unite the fragmented nation. With Soviet assistance, he entered into an alliance with the fledgling Communist Party of China.
One of his protégés, Chiang Kai-shek seized control of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party or KMT, and succeeded in bringing most of south and central China under its rule in a military campaign known as the Northern Expedition.
During the Long March, the communists reorganized under a new leader, Mao Zedong. The bitter struggle between the KMT and the CPC continued, openly or clandestinely, through the 14-year long Japanese occupation (1931-1945), of various parts of the country. The two Chinese parties nominally formed a united front to oppose the Japanese in 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), which became a part of World War II. Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, the war between the KMT and the CPC resumed, after failed attempts at reconciliation and a negotiated settlement. By 1949, the CPC had occupied most of the country.
At the end of WWII in 1945 as part of the overall Japanese surrender, Japanese troops in Taiwan surrendered to Republic of China troops giving Chiang Kai-shek effective control of Taiwan. When Chiang was defeated by CPC forces in mainland China in 1949, he fled to Taiwan with his government and the remnants of his army, along with most of the KMT leadership and a large number of their supporters.
With the CPC's victory, and their proclamation of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, Taiwan was again politically separated from mainland China, and continues to be governed by the Republic of China to the present day.
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