View Full Version : Chinese history
January 22nd, 2008, 06:03 AM
This is a chinese history introduction,I found it on-line,becasue it is so long,so I divided it into many parts:
According to Chinese tradition, the Chinese people originated in the Huang He (Hwang Ho or Yellow River) valley. The legends tell of a creator, Pan Gu (P’an Ku), who was succeeded by a series of heavenly, terrestrial, and human sovereigns. Archaeological evidence is scant, although remains of Homo erectus, found near Beijing, have been dated back 460,000 years. Rice was grown in eastern China around 5500 bc, and about five centuries later an agricultural society developed in the Huang He valley. There is strong evidence of two so-called pottery cultures, the Yangshao culture (c. 3950-c. 1700 bc), and the Longshan culture (c. 2000-c. 1850 bc).
A The Earliest Dynasties
Tradition names the Xia (c. 1994-c. 1766 bc) as the first hereditary Chinese dynasty, which ended only when a Xia ruler fell into debauchery, mistreated his people, and was subsequently overthrown. However, there is no archaeological record to confirm this story; the Shang is the earliest dynasty for which reliable historical evidence exists.
A1 The Shang Dynasty (1766-1027 bc)
The Shang dynasty was marked by important advances in the use of bronze, for weapons and artefacts as well as for tools. Among objects shown here are a ge, or haldberg, (upper left), a badge of rank, and a yüeh (second from left), an axe used in human sacrifices. The mattock and axe (bottom left) are made of stone.Dorling Kindersley
The Shang dynasty ruled the territory of the present-day north-central Chinese provinces of Henan, Hubei, and Shandong and the northern part of Anhui. The capital, from about 1384 bc on, was situated at Anyang near the northern border of Henan. The chief crops of the predominantly agricultural economy were millet, wheat, barley, and, possibly, some rice. Silkworms were reared, as well as pigs, dogs, sheep, and oxen. Bronze vessels, weapons, and other tools have been found. The Shang was an aristocratic society. At the head was a king who presided over a military nobility. Territorial rulers were appointed by him and compelled to support him in military endeavours. This aristocratic class was served by a literate priestly class responsible for administration and divination. Shang people worshipped their ancestors and numerous gods, the principal of whom was known as Shang Di, the Lord on High.
The account of the fall of the Shang dynasty that appears in traditional Chinese histories follows closely the story of the fall of the Xia. The last Shang monarch, a cruel and debauched tyrant, was overthrown by a vigorous king of Zhou (Chou), a state in the valley of the River Wei on the north-western fringes of the Shang domain. The culture of Zhou was a blend of the basic elements of Shang civilization and certain of the martial traditions characteristic of the non-Chinese peoples to the north and west.
A2 The Zhou Dynasty (c. 1027-256 bc)
Nearly 3,000 years ago in China, when feuding fiefdoms were destroying the old order of the Zhou dynasty, the philosopher Confucius taught principles of proper conduct and social relationships that embraced high ethical and moral standards. Confucius’s teachings and wisdom later became standard scholarly education for the bureaucrats who administered the country. The Confucian tradition, which encompasses education, wisdom, and ethics, persists in China.National Palace Museum, Taiwan/Robert Harding Picture Library
Chinese civilization was gradually extended over most of China proper north of and including the Yangzi Valley under the Zhou dynasty.
The capital was at Hao, near modern Xi’an (Sian), but an eastern capital was built at Luoyi, on the Luo river, near modern Luoyang. At the height of its power, the Zhou domain extended south across the Yangzi, north-east to present Liaoning, west to Gansu, and east to Shandong. To rule this enormous territory, the Zhou created vassals, each of whom normally ruled a walled town and the territory surrounding it. Initially many vassals were related to the ruler by lineage ties, but in time they became increasingly autonomous.
The Zhou accepted that the Shang had descended from the son of the Lord of Heaven, but believed that the mandate of heaven (tian) had then passed to the Zhou. They too were descended from the Lord of Heaven, but from a younger brother of the Shang ancestor. Thus the concept of descent from the supreme ruler was transformed from the possession of one dynasty and tribe into something more general.
The Zhou kings were able to maintain control over their domain until 770 bc, when several of the states rebelled and, together with non-Chinese forces, routed the Zhou from their capital near the site of present-day Xi’an. The Zhou then retreated eastwards, establishing a new capital at Luoyi. Though unable to exercise as much authority over vassals, they retained custody of the mandate of heaven and remained titular overlords until the 3rd century bc.
The Eastern Zhou period shaped Chinese culture. The first chronicles of Chinese history appeared then, and the task of ruling a large empire gave rise to Confucianism and Legalism. Ancient forms of religion declined and were subsumed by Daoism. From the 8th to the 3rd century bc rapid economic growth and social change took place despite extreme political instability and nearly incessant warfare. The iron-tipped, ox-drawn plough, together with improved irrigation techniques, brought higher agricultural yields which, in turn, supported a steady rise in population. Some lords stopped keeping slaves and turned their land over to tenant farmers. Lacquerware was developed as a new handicraft skill. All this created more wealth and an influential merchant class.
Interstate relations became increasingly unstable. By the 6th century bc seven powerful states surrounded a few smaller, relatively weak ones on the North China Plain. Alliances disintegrated, and China was plunged into the Period of the Warring States (403-221 bc). New forms of warfare were developed including mounted cavalry (learnt from tribes to the north), the crossbow, sieges, and defences against them.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:03 AM
B Creation of the Empire
During the 4th century bc, the state of Qin (Ch’in), one of the newly emergent peripheral states of the north-west, embarked on a programme of administrative, economic, and military reform suggested by a leading Legalist theoretician. At the same time the vestigial power of the Zhou grew ever weaker until the regime collapsed in 256 bc. A generation later, the Qin had subjugated the other warring states.
B1 The Qin Dynasty (221-206 bc)
In 221 bc, the king of Qin proclaimed himself Shi Huangdi, or First Emperor of the Qin dynasty. The name China is derived from this dynasty.
With the assistance of a shrewd Legalist minister, the First Emperor welded the loose configuration of quasi-feudal states into an administratively centralized and culturally unified empire. The hereditary aristocracies were abolished and their territories divided into provinces governed by bureaucrats appointed by the emperor. The Qin capital, near the present-day city of Xi’an, became the first seat of imperial China. A standardized system of written characters was adopted, and its use was made compulsory throughout the empire. To promote internal trade and economic integration the Qin standardized weights and measures, coinage, and axle widths. Private landholding was adopted, and laws and taxation were enforced equally and impersonally. The quest for cultural uniformity led the Qin to outlaw the many contending schools of philosophy that had flourished during the late Zhou. Only Legalism was given official sanction, and in 213 bc the books of all other schools were burned, except for copies held by the Qin imperial library.
The First Emperor also attempted to push the perimeter of Chinese civilization far beyond the outer boundaries of the Zhou dynasty. In the south his armies marched to the delta of the Red River, in what is now Vietnam. In the south-west the realm was extended to include most of the present-day provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan. In the north-west his conquests reached as far as Lanzhou in present-day Gansu Province; and in the north-east, a portion of what today is Korea acknowledged the superiority of the Qin. The centre of Chinese civilization, however, remained in the Huang He valley. Aside from the unification and expansion of China, the best-known achievement of the Qin was the completion of the fortifications which became the Great Wall.
The foreign conquests of the Qin and the wall building and other public works were accomplished at an enormous cost of wealth and human life. The ever-increasing burden of taxation, military service, and forced labour bred a deep-seated resentment against the Qin rule among the common people of the new empire. In addition, the literate classes were alienated by government policies of thought control, particularly the burning of books. The successor of Shi Huangdi came under the domination of a wily palace eunuch. A power struggle ensued, crippling the central administration, and the indignant population rose in rebellion.
B2 The Earlier Han Dynasty (206 bc-ad 9)
During the Han dynasty, the imperial system inaugurated by the Qin dynasty was consolidated and expanded. Confucianism was established as the philosophical basis of government. Overland trade routes were expanded into Europe, and Chinese culture became an influence in neighbouring countries. Work on the Great Wall, begun in the Qin dynasty during the 400s bc to protect China’s northern borders, continued during the Han dynasty.
From the turbulence and warfare that marked the last years of the Qin dynasty, there arose a rebel leader of humble origin, Liu Bang (later to be known under the title of Gao Zu. Crushing other contenders for the throne, Liu Bang proclaimed himself emperor in 206 bc. The Han dynasty, which he established, was the most durable of the imperial age. The Han built on the unified foundation laid by the Qin, but modified the policies that had resulted in their downfall. Burdensome laws were abrogated, taxes were sharply reduced, and a policy of laissez-faire was adopted in an effort to promote economic recovery. At first Liu Bang granted hereditary kingdoms to some of his allies and relatives, but by the middle of the 2nd century bc most of these kingdoms had been eliminated, and almost all Han territory was under direct imperial rule.
One of the most important contributions of the Han was the establishment of Confucianism as the official ideology. In an attempt to provide an all-inclusive ideology of empire, however, the Han incorporated ideas from many other philosophical schools into Confucianism, and employed popular superstitions to augment and elaborate the spare teachings of Confucius. In staffing the administrative hierarchy inherited from the Qin, the Han emperors followed the Confucian principle of appointing men on the basis of merit rather than birth. Written examinations were adopted as a means of determining the best-qualified people. In the late 2nd century bc an imperial university was established, in which prospective bureaucrats were trained in the five classics of the Confucian school.
The Earlier Han reached the zenith of its power under Emperor Wudi, who reigned from 140 to 87 bc. Almost all of what today constitutes China was brought under imperial rule, although many areas, particularly south of the Yangzi, were not thoroughly assimilated. Chinese authority was established in southern Dongbei and northern Korea. In the west, Han armies battled a tribe known as the Xiongnu, who were possibly related to the Huns, and penetrated to the valley of the Jaxartes River (the present-day Syr Darya in Kazakhstan). In the south the island of Hainan was brought under Han control, and colonies were established around the Xi delta and in Annam and Korea.
Emperor Wu’s expansionist policies consumed the financial surpluses that had been accumulated during the laissez-faire administrations of his predecessors and necessitated a restoration of Legalist policies to replenish the state treasuries. Taxes were increased, government monopolies revived, and the currency debased. Hardships suffered by the peasants were aggravated by the growth in population, which reduced the size of individual landholdings at a time when taxes were increasing. During the first century bc, conditions worsened further. On several occasions the throne was inherited by infants, whose mothers often filled government posts with unqualified members of their own family. Factionalism and incompetence weakened the imperial government. Great landholding families in the provinces challenged the tax-collecting authority of the central government and acquired a kind of tax-exempt status. As the number of tax-free estates grew, the tax base of the government shrank, and the burden borne by the taxpaying peasants became more and more onerous. Agrarian uprisings and banditry reflected popular discontentment.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:04 AM
B3 The Xin Dynasty (ad 9-23)
During this period of disorder an ambitious courtier, Wang Mang, deposed an infant emperor, for whom he had been acting as regent, and established the short-lived Xin dynasty. Wang Mang attempted to revitalize the imperial government and relieve the plight of the peasant. He moved against the big tax-free estates by nationalizing all land and redistributing it among the actual cultivators. Slavery was abolished. Imperial monopolies on salt, iron, and coinage were strengthened, and new monopolies were established. The state fixed prices to protect the peasants from unscrupulous merchants and provided low-interest state loans to those needing capital to begin productive enterprises. So great was the resistance of the powerful propertied classes, however, that Wang Mang was forced to repeal his land legislation. The agrarian crisis intensified, and matters were made worse by the breakdown of major North China water-control systems that had been neglected by the fiscally weakened government. A large-scale rebellion broke out in northern China under the leadership of a group known as the Red Eyebrows. They were soon joined by the large landholding families, who finally succeeded in killing Wang Mang and re-establishing the rule of the Han dynasty.
B4 The Later Han (25-220)
Administrative weakness and inefficiency plagued the Later or Eastern Han dynasty from the very beginning. As under the Earlier or Western Han, the central government became demoralized by the appointment of incompetent maternal relatives of infant emperors. With the help of court eunuchs, subsequent emperors were able to get rid of these incompetents, but only at the cost of granting equally great influence to the eunuchs. As a result, the government was again torn by factionalism. Between 168 and 170 warfare erupted between the eunuchs and the bureaucrats, who felt that the eunuchs had usurped their rightful position of influence in government. By 184 two great rebellions, led by Daoist religious groups, had also broken out. For two decades the Yellow Turbans, as one of the sects in Chinese religion was called, ravaged Shandong and adjacent areas, and not until 215 was the great Han general Cao Cao able to pacify the other group, the Five Pecks of Rice Society in Sichuan.
B5 Period of Disunion
The Han Empire began to fall apart as the large landholding families, taking advantage of the weakness of the imperial government, established their own private armies. Finally, in 220 the son of Cao Cao seized the throne and established the Wei dynasty (220-265). Soon, however, leaders with dynastic aspirations sprang up in other parts of the country. The Shu dynasty (221-263) was established in south-western China, and the Wu dynasty (222-280) in the south-east. The three kingdoms waged incessant warfare against one another. In 265 Sima Yan, a powerful general of the Wei dynasty, usurped that throne and established the Western Jin (Tsin, Chin), dynasty (265-317) in North China. By 280 he had reunited the north and south under his rule. Soon after his death in 290, however, the empire began to crumble. One important reason for this internal weakness was the influence of the principal landholding families. They made their power felt through the nine-grade controller system, by which prominent individuals in each administrative area were given the authority to rank local families and individuals in nine grades according to their potential for government service. Because the ranking was arbitrarily decided by a few important people, it frequently reflected the wishes of the leading families in the area rather than the merit of those being ranked.
The non-Chinese tribes of the north, which the Han had fought to a standstill along the border, seized the opportunity afforded by the weakness of the government to extend their search for pastoral lands into the fertile North China Plain. Invasions began in 304, and by 317 the tribes had wrested North China from the Jin dynasty. For almost three centuries North China was ruled by one or more non-Chinese dynasties, while the south was ruled by a sequence of four Chinese dynasties, all of which were centred in the area of the present-day city of Nanjing (Nanking). None of the non-Chinese dynasties was able to extend control over the entire North China Plain until 420, when the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534) did so.
During the second half of the 5th century the Northern Wei adopted a policy of sinification. The agricultural area of North China was administered bureaucratically, as it had been by earlier Chinese dynasties, and military service was imposed on the tribesmen. Chinese-style clothing and customs were adopted, and Chinese was made the official language of the court. The tribal chieftains, pushed beyond their endurance by the sinification policies, rebelled, and in 534 the dynasty toppled. For the next 50 years, North China was again ruled by non-Chinese dynasties.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:05 AM
C The Re-Established Empire
China was reunited under the rule of the Sui dynasty (589-618). The first Sui emperor was Yang Jian (Yang Chien), a military servant who usurped the throne of the non-Chinese Northern Zhou in 581. During the next eight years he completed the conquest of South China and established his capital at Chang’an (now Xi’an). The Sui revived the centralized administrative system of the Han and reinstated competitive examinations for the selection of officials. Although Confucianism was officially endorsed, Daoism and Buddhism were also acknowledged in formulating a new ideology for the empire. Buddhism, which had been brought to China from India during the Later Han dynasty and the ensuing period of disunion, flourished.
The brief Sui reign was a time of great activity. The Great Wall was repaired at an enormous cost in human life. A canal system, which later formed the Grand Canal, was constructed to carry the rich agricultural produce of the Yangzi delta to Luoyang and the north. Chinese control was reasserted over northern Vietnam and, to a limited degree, over the Central Asian tribes to the north and west. A prolonged and costly campaign against a kingdom in southern Dongbei and northern Korea, however, ended in defeat. With its prestige seriously tarnished and its population impoverished, the Sui dynasty fell in 617 to domestic rebels led by Li Yuan.
C1 The Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Founded by Li Yuan, whose posthumous title was Emperor Gaozu, the Tang dynasty was one of the great periods in Chinese history. The capital cities were Luoyang and Chang’an. Government was restructured to provide a recentralized administration. The revised system of civil service examinations for recruitment to the bureaucracy survived in its basic form until the 20th century. The population grew rapidly. Chinese control was extended to the north and the west, and by the mid-7th century the dynasty had established itself as a great Eurasian power, maintaining diplomatic ties with countries and tribes stretching from Byzantium to Japan. Tang government was imitated in Japan and Korea in the 8th and 9th centuries.
These international links made Tang China both prosperous and cosmopolitan. Trading communities from Central Asia and the Middle East established themselves in Chinese cities, bringing new tastes in culture and entertainment, as well as new religions. Groups of believers in Islam, Judaism, Nestorianism, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism could all be found in Luoyang and Chang’an, as well as Guangzhou (Canton). From the mid-8th century sea trade with South East Asia began to surpass that along the Silk Route with Central Asia. The centre of economic gravity in the country gradually moved southwards to the Yangzi valley, where agriculture was more productive. By the 9th century Chinese ships were reaching as far as the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, carrying silks and ceramics, and leaving communities of Chinese traders throughout the region (in Chinese the term for “Chinatown” is “Street of Tang People”).
All the arts flourished, especially when supported by enlightened emperors. Porcelain- and paper-making reached maturity. Printing helped to strengthen national unity. The poets Li Bai (Li Po), Du Fu (Tu Fu), and Bai Juyi (Po Chü-i), as well as the prose master Han Yu, are all revered as among the greatest writers China has ever produced.
Yet despite its brilliance, the Tang dynasty suffered periodic rebellions and challenges from outside. In the middle of the 8th century, at the height of Tang splendour, the central government faced a disastrous rebellion by the frontier general An Lushan. Though the rebellion was suppressed by 763 after immense loss of life and the sacking of both capitals, the Tang dynasty was no longer able to control its frontier military governors. By the later 9th century, effective central power had shrunk to Shaanxi province. In addition, although Buddhism had developed peacefully and spread widely in the early years of the dynasty, in the later 9th century an emperor launched a full-scale persecution of Buddhists.
From the middle of that century there was almost constant fighting in the south against foreign incursions, followed by minor rebellions, banditry, and mutinies in provincial armies. For its last 20 years the dynasty’s power was rent between regional generals.
The dispersal of political and economic power that marked the collapse of the Tang dynasty resulted in a brief period of disunion known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907-960). Not only did five short-lived dynasties follow one another in the Huang He valley of North China, but ten independent states were established, most of them in South China. Although foreign invaders did not overrun China during this period, the Liao dynasty (907-1125) of the Khitan Mongols, based in Dongbei and Mongolia, was able to extend its influence over parts of northern Hebei and Shaanxi provinces. Beijing became the southern capital of their joint Sino-Khitan Empire.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:05 AM
D Cultural Maturity and Alien Rule
Founded in 960 ad by Zhao Kuangyin (Chao K’uang-yin), the commander of the palace guard in the northern state of Zhou set on the throne by his troops with the imperial title of Taizu (T’ai-tsu) to replace a child ruler, the Song dynasty brought to an end over 50 years of fighting which followed the collapse of the Tang dynasty.
The period is usually subdivided into the Northern Song (960-1126), when the capital was situated at Kaifeng, and the Southern Song (1127-1279), when the capital was at Hangzhou (Hangchow) and the dynasty only controlled southern China.
D1 The Song Dynasty (960-1279)
Initially the government had to recentralize control over its military commanders. An increasing number of officials at the highest levels qualified through the civil service examinations. More than their predecessors the Song tried to adhere to Confucian precepts. They also encouraged a higher degree of consultation over policy, and they established offices to consider criticisms of government.
The Song presided over major agricultural development, particularly in the south, which was less ravaged by war. The overall population passed 100 million, and for the first time over half lived in the south. A great deal of attention was devoted to water conservancy projects, and systematic treatises were written about paddy field farming. Higher yields of rice were grown and double-cropping developed. Cotton cultivation too was expanded, and for the first time cotton textiles became a major source of employment. Handicrafts and technology also flourished. More gold, silver, copper, and iron was produced than ever before. The technique of block printing became a mature art, and books from the Song dynasty are still prized today.
All of this led to an expansion of trade. New trading routes were opened up, especially along waterways in the south. In response new urban areas sprang up with their own urban culture. The theatre in particular became an art form in its own right. Chinese traders went far abroad as well, both along the Silk Road and also by ship as far as the Mediterranean.
Yet the dynasty was beset throughout its existence by challenges from neighbouring empires. To the north and west the Khitan dynasty of Liao captured Hebei and Hedong in China proper, as well as Dongbei and Inner Mongolia, and forced the Song to recognize it in 1005. The Liao name (Khitan, or Kitai, or “Cathay”) was then borrowed in Slavonic and Middle Eastern languages to designate China itself. They were overthrown in the early 12th century by their former subjects, the Jurchen, who then drove the Song south after capturing their capital Kaifeng in 1126 and established the Jin dynasty. The Jin in turn were defeated by the hitherto little-known Mongols. The Song meanwhile established a rump state with its capital at Hangzhou.
In 1206 an assembly of all Mongol tribes convened at Karakorum in Outer Mongolia to confirm the establishment of Mongol unity under the leadership of Genghis Khan. The Mongols promptly embarked on a series of conquests that resulted in the establishment of the largest empire in the world at the time. In China it was the alien Jin dynasty that first fell to the Mongol armies. Genghis Khan captured the Jin capital at Beijing in 1215 and subsequently extended his power over the remainder of North China. The conquest of the Southern Song was not completed until 1279, after Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, had succeeded to the Mongol leadership. Although the Southern Song had begun to make use of gunpowder for military purposes, the Mongols finally destroyed them after 40 years of warfare.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:06 AM
D2 The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368)
Kublai moved the Mongol capital from Karakorum to a site close to modern Beijing. From there he ruled an empire that stretched from eastern Europe to Korea and from northern Siberia south to the northern rim of India. Kublai and his successors adopted much of the administrative machinery that had existed under the Song. They ruled as Chinese monarchs of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) and are so regarded by the Chinese. The reign of Kublai Khan was the high point of Mongol power. Communications were vastly improved. The Central Asian trade routes, entirely under Mongol control, were more secure than ever before. The traffic from West to East increased correspondingly. Missionaries and traders came to China, bringing new ideas, techniques, foods, and medicines. Best known of the foreigners to reach China was the Venetian merchant Marco Polo, whose writings vividly portray the splendour of the Mongol Empire to the West.
Meanwhile, discontent was growing within China. The Confucian official class resented Mongol proscriptions against the Chinese holding important offices. Inflation and oppressive taxes alienated Chinese peasants. The 1330s and 1340s were marked by crop failure and famine in North China and by severe flooding of the Huang He. Uprisings occurred in almost every province during the 1340s. By the following decade several major rebel leaders had emerged, and in the 1360s Zhu Yuanzhang (Chu Yüan-chang), a former Buddhist monk, was successful in extending his power throughout the Yangzi Valley. In 1371, while Mongol commanders were paralysed by internal rivalries, he marched north and seized Beijing. The Mongols eventually withdrew to their base in Mongolia, from which they continued to harass the Chinese.
E The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Founded by Zhu, the Ming dynasty first established its capital at Nanjing and revived the characteristically Chinese civilization of the Tang and the Song. Chinese power was reasserted in China and throughout East Asia. Civil government was re-established. Literature was patronized, schools were founded, and the administration of justice was reformed. The Great Wall was extended and the Grand Canal improved. The empire was divided into 15 provinces, most of which still bear their original names. Each province was supervised by three commissioners—one for finances, one for military affairs, and one for judicial matters. The financial commissioner, who headed the administration, was superseded in the last years of the dynasty by a governor.
The early Ming also re-established the system of tributary relations by which the non-Chinese states of East Asia acknowledged the cultural and moral supremacy of China and sent periodic tribute to the Chinese court. During the first quarter of the 15th century the tribes of Mongolia were decisively defeated, and the capital was again moved north to Beijing. Chinese naval expeditions revealed the power of the Ming Empire throughout South East Asia, the states of India, and as far away as Madagascar. From the middle of the 15th century, however, Ming power began to decline. The quality of imperial leadership deteriorated, and court eunuchs came to exercise great control over the emperor, fostering discontent and factionalism in the government. The imperial treasuries were depleted by the costs of defence against repeated Mongol incursions and raids by Japanese pirates who ravaged the south-east coast throughout the 16th century. A seven-year campaign against the Japanese invasion of Korea launched by Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the 1590s left the Ming exhausted.
In the declining years of the Ming, maritime relations were initiated between the Western world and China. The Portuguese arrived first, in 1514. By 1557 they had acquired a trading station at Macau. After 1570 trade began between China and Spanish settlements in the Philippines. In 1619 the Dutch settled in Taiwan and took possession of the nearby Pescadores (now P’enghu Islands). Meanwhile, in the latter half of the 16th century, Jesuit missionaries arrived in China from Europe and began the dissemination of Western secular knowledge and Christianity. The wisdom and learning of the Jesuits soon won them positions of respect at the Ming court, but the Neo-Confucian scholars of Ming China remained preoccupied with problems of individual merit and social order. The Jesuits proved unable to implant either Christianity or Western scientific thought.
The downfall of the Ming was brought about by a rebellion originating in Shaanxi Province as a result of the inability of the government to provide relief in a time of famine and unemployment. When the rebels reached Beijing in 1644, the best Ming troops were deployed at the Great Wall, guarding against invasion by the Manchus, a Tungusic tribe that had recently gained power in Dongbei. The Ming commander decided to accept Manchu aid to drive the rebels from the capital. Once this collaboration had been effected, the Manchus refused to leave Beijing, forcing the Ming to withdraw to South China, where they attempted, unsuccessfully, to re-establish their regime.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:07 AM
F The Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)
Under the Qing dynasty, the dynastic title under which the Manchus chose to rule, the power of the Chinese Empire reached the highest point in its 2,000-year history and then collapsed, partly from internal decay and partly from external pressures exerted by the West. As rulers of China, the Manchus continued to absorb Chinese culture. Their political organization was largely based on that of the Ming, although more highly centralized. The central administration was led by a new institution, the Grand Council, which transacted the military and political affairs of state under the direct supervision of the emperor. The chief bureaux in the capital had both a Chinese and a Manchu head. The traditional bureaucracy and the civil service examinations, based largely on a knowledge of Confucianism, were retained.
By the end of the 17th century the Qing had eliminated all Ming opposition and put down a rebellion led by Chinese generals who had originally assisted the Manchus and had been given semi-autonomous domains in the south. In the middle of the 18th century, during the reign of the emperor Qianlong (Ch’ien Lung), the Qing dynasty reached the apogee of its power. Dongbei, Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet were all securely under Qing control. Even Nepal was made to feel Chinese influence. Burma sent periodic tribute to the Qing court, as did the Ryukyu Islands. Korea and northern Vietnam both recognized Chinese suzerainty, and Taiwan was incorporated into China proper.
The domestic order that the Manchus firmly enforced made the 18th century a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity in China. Population perhaps doubled, but production failed to expand at an equal pace. By the end of the 18th century, the economic status of the Chinese peasant had begun to decline. The financial resources of the government were gravely depleted by the costs of foreign expansion, and at the end of Qianlong’s reign they were nearly exhausted by large-scale official corruption. Manchu troops stationed throughout China were a further drain on the economy and, enervated by generations of peacetime garrison duty, scarcely capable of bearing arms in their own defence.
F1 Foreign Pressure
Commercial relations with the West were grudgingly accepted by the Manchus in the late 18th century. Foreign trade was confined to the port of Guangzhou, and foreign merchants were required to conduct trade through a limited number of Chinese merchants, known collectively as the cohong. The most active trading nations were Britain, France, and the United States. Of these, British trade was by far the greatest. Initially, the balance of trade was in China’s favour, as Great Britain purchased tea and made payments in silver. Apparently in order to reverse the balance of trade, British merchants during the 1780s introduced Indian opium to China. By 1800 the opium market had mushroomed, and the balance of trade shifted in favour of Britain. The large-scale drain of Chinese silver resulting from the increased opium trade aggravated the fiscal difficulties already confronting the Qing government.
The 19th century was marked by rapid deterioration of the imperial system and a steady increase of foreign pressure from the West and, eventually, from Japan. The issue of trade relations between China and Great Britain produced the first serious conflict. The British were anxious to expand their trade contacts beyond the restrictive limits imposed at Guangzhou. To accomplish this expansion, they sought to develop diplomatic relations with the Chinese Empire similar to those that existed between sovereign states in the West. China, with its long history of economic self-sufficiency, was not interested in increased trade. International relations, if they were to exist at all, in the Chinese view, had to take the form of a tributary system, with British envoys approaching the Chinese court as tribute bearers. The Chinese, moreover, were anxious to halt the opium trade, which was undermining the fiscal and moral basis of the empire. In 1839 Chinese officials confiscated and destroyed huge amounts of opium from British ships in the harbour at Guangzhou and applied severe pressures to the British trading community in that city. The British refused to restrict further importation of opium, and hostilities broke out in late 1839.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:10 AM
F2 Trade Wars and the Unequal Treaties
The First Opium War was concluded in 1842 with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing). China had been badly beaten, and the terms of the treaty granted to Great Britain the trade preferences it sought, as well as numerous other advantages. During the next two years both France and the United States extracted similar treaties. China looked upon these treaties as unpleasant but necessary concessions dictated by unruly barbarians. Its compliance with the commercial clauses regarding the expansion of trade fell far short of the expectations of the Western powers. Both Britain and France soon found occasion to renew hostilities and, during the Second Opium War (1856-1860), applied military pressure to the capital region in North China. New treaties, known collectively as the Treaty of Tianjin, were signed in 1858 that further expanded Western advantages. When the Beijing government declined to ratify these, hostilities were reopened. A joint British-French expeditionary force penetrated to Beijing. After the famed Summer Palace had been burned in retaliation for Chinese atrocities to Western prisoners, the Beijing Conventions were signed in 1860, ratifying the terms of the earlier treaties.
These treaties, collectively known in China as the unequal treaties, were to guide Chinese relations with the West until 1943. They changed the course of Chinese social and economic development and permanently handicapped the Qing dynasty. By their provisions, Chinese ports were opened to foreign trade and residents, and Hong Kong and Kowloon were permanently ceded to Great Britain. Foreign nationals of treaty powers were granted extraterritoriality, so that almost all foreigners in China were tried by their own judges or at their consulates under the laws of their homelands. All treaties included a most-favoured-nation clause, under which any privilege extended by China to one nation was automatically extended to all other treaty powers. Eventually a network of foreign control over the entire Chinese economy was forged. The treaties set the duty on goods imported into China at a maximum 5 per cent of value. This provision was designed to eliminate the arbitrary imposition of excessive duties. It left China unable to levy taxes on imports sufficient to protect domestic industries and to promote economic modernization.
F3 The Taiping Rebellion
During the 1850s the very foundations of the empire were shaken by the Taiping Rebellion, a popular revolution of religious, social, and economic origin. Its leader, Hong Xiuquan (Hung Hsiu-ch’üan), an unsuccessful candidate for the civil service, had studied briefly and unsuccessfully with an American Protestant missionary. He came to imagine himself to be the younger brother of Jesus, divinely ordained to rid China of Manchu rule and to establish a Christian dynasty. Rebellion broke out in Guangxi Province in 1851. By 1853 the Taipings had moved north and established their capital at Nanjing. Although they were stopped short of taking Beijing, by 1860 they were firmly entrenched in the Yangzi Valley and were threatening Shanghai.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:12 AM
F4 Foreign Spheres of Influence
The Qing dynasty, confronted with the reality of conducting relations with the vastly more powerful Western nations and ravaged by a domestic rebellion of unprecedented proportions, realized its policies must change if the empire was to survive. From 1860 to 1895 attempts were made to restore benevolent Confucian government; to solve domestic, social, and economic problems; and to adopt Western technology in order to strengthen state power. The Manchus, themselves unable to provide the leadership for such programmes, turned to Chinese leaders in the provinces. Empowered with unprecedented imperial grants of financial, administrative, and military authority, certain of the Chinese officials had noteworthy success in implementing their programmes. During the 1860s and 1870s, largely through the efforts of Governors Zeng Guofan (Tseng Kuo-fan), Li Hongzhang (Li Hung-chang), and Zuo Zongtang (Tso Tsung-t’ang), the Taiping and several other major rebellions were put down, domestic peace was restored, arsenals and dockyards were established, and several mines were opened. The objectives of preserving Confucian government and developing modern military power were basically incompatible, however. Leadership in the modernization programme was entrusted to the only central leadership group in China, the Neo-Confucian bureaucrats graduated from the civil service examination system. These men were poorly equipped or only partly committed to carry out a programme of modernization aimed at augmenting state power. Consequently, China’s efforts to strengthen itself from 1860 to 1895 were basically unsuccessful.
At first the Western powers tended to consolidate their gains under the unequal treaties rather than to seek additional privileges. In 1875, however, the Western powers and Japan began to dismantle the Chinese system of tributary states in South East Asia. After 1875 the Ryukyus were brought under Japanese control. The Sino-French War of 1884 and 1885 brought Vietnam into the French colonial empire, and the following year Great Britain detached Burma. In 1860 Russia gained the maritime provinces of northern Dongbei and the areas north of the Amur River. In 1894 Japanese efforts to remove Korea from Chinese suzerainty resulted in the Sino-Japanese War. China suffered a decisive defeat in 1895 at the hands of Japan and was forced to recognize the independence of Korea, pay an enormous war indemnity, and cede to Japan the island of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula in southern Dongbei.
Russia, France, and Germany reacted immediately to the cession of the Liaodong Peninsula, which they regarded as giving Japan a stranglehold on the richest area of China. These three powers intervened, demanding that Japan retrocede Liaodong in return for an increased indemnity. Once this had been accomplished, China was presented with fresh demands by the three European powers. By 1898, powerless to resist foreign demands, China had been carved into spheres of economic influence. Russia was granted the right to construct a Trans-Siberian railway, the Chinese Eastern Railway, across Dongbei to Vladivostok and the South Manchurian Railway south to the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, as well as additional exclusive economic rights throughout Dongbei. Other exclusive rights to railway and mineral development were granted to Germany in Shandong Province, to France in the southern border provinces, to Great Britain in the Yangzi riparian provinces, and to Japan in the south-eastern coastal provinces. As a result of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 and 1905, most of the South Manchurian Railway and the Russian rights in southern Dongbei were transferred to Japan. The United States, attempting to preserve its rights in China without competing for territory, initiated the Open Door Policy in 1899-1900. That policy, to which the other foreign powers assented, stipulated that their new privileges in China in no way changed the equal position of all nations under the terms of the most-favoured-nation clauses. The United States also undertook to guarantee the territorial and administrative integrity of China, although it remained unwilling to back this guarantee with force until 1941.
F5 Reform Movements and the Boxer Rebellion
By 1898 an enlightened group of reformers had gained access to the young and open-minded Emperor Guangxu (Kuang Hsü). In the summer of that year, prompted by the urgency of the situation created by the new spheres of influence, they instituted a sweeping reform programme designed to transform China into a constitutional monarchy and to modernize the economy and the educational system. This programme struck at the entrenched power of a clique of Manchu officials appointed by Dowager Empress Cixi (Tz’u Hsi), who had recently retired. Cixi and the Manchu officials seized the emperor, and with the aid of loyal military leaders, put down the reform movement. A period of violent reaction swept the country, reaching its peak in 1900 with the fanatically anti-foreign uprising of the secret society of Boxers, a group that enjoyed the support of the dowager empress and many Manchu officials. After a Western expeditionary force had crushed the Boxer Rebellion at Beijing, the Manchu government realized the futility of its policy of reaction. In 1902 it adopted its own reform programme and made plans to establish a limited constitutional government on the Japanese model. In 1905 the ancient civil service examinations were abandoned.
The hour was late for the Manchus. Shortly after the Sino-Japanese War the Western-educated Sun Yat-sen had initiated a revolutionary movement dedicated to establishing a republican government. During the first decade of the 20th century the revolutionaries formed a coalition of overseas Chinese students and merchants, and domestic groups dissatisfied with Manchu rule. In mid-1911 uprisings occurred in protest against a Qing railway nationalization scheme, and in October of that year rebellion broke out at Hankou in central China. As rebellion spread to other provinces, the revolutionary society led by Sun took control. The Manchu armies, reorganized by General Yuan Shikai (Yüan Shih-k’ai), were clearly superior to the rebel forces, but Yuan applied only limited military pressure and negotiated with the rebel leadership for a position as president of a new republican government. On February 12, 1912, Sun Yat-sen stepped down as provisional president in favour of Yuan, and the Manchus submissively retired into oblivion. On February 14, 1912, a revolutionary assembly in Nanjing elected Yuan the first president of the Republic of China.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:14 AM
G The Republic of China
The Chinese Republic maintained a tenuous existence from 1912 until 1949. Although a constitution was adopted and a parliament convened in 1912, Yuan Shikai never allowed these institutions to inhibit his personal control of the government. When the newly formed Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (Guomindang), headed by Sun Yat-sen, attempted to limit Yuan’s power, first by parliamentary tactics and then by an unsuccessful revolution in 1913, Yuan responded by dismissing parliament, outlawing the Kuomintang, and ruling through his personal connections with provincial military leaders. Sun Yat-sen took refuge in Japan. Yuan, however, was forced by popular opposition to abandon his plans to restore the empire and install himself as Emperor. He died in 1916, and political power passed to the provincial warlords for more than a decade. The central government retained a precarious and nearly fictional existence until 1927.
During World War I, Japan sought to gain a position of undisputed supremacy in China. In 1915 Japan presented China with the so-called Twenty-One Demands, the terms of which would have reduced China to a virtual Japanese protectorate. China yielded to a modified version of the demands, agreeing, among other concessions, to the transfer of the German holdings in Shandong to Japan. The belated entry of China into the war on the Allied side in 1917 was designed to gain a seat for China at the peace table and a new chance to check Japanese ambitions. China expected that the United States, according to the Open Door Policy, would offer its support. At Versailles, however, President Woodrow Wilson withdrew United States support of China on the Shandong issue when Japan withdrew its demands for a racial-equality clause in the League of Nations Covenant, a provision bitterly opposed in the United States because of the possibility of unlimited influx of labour from the Orient. The indignant Chinese delegation refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles. China, however, later gained admission to the League on the basis of a separate peace treaty with Austria.
Chinese youth and intellectuals, who in the previous decade had looked increasingly to the West for models and ideals for the reform of China, were crushed by what they considered Wilson’s betrayal at Versailles. When the news reached China, a mass anti-Japanese protest demonstration, the May Fourth Movement of 1919, erupted at Beijing University and swept through the country.
G1 The Kuomintang and the Rise of the Communist Party
A period of scrutiny and reappraisal followed, from which two clear objectives emerged: to rid China of imperialism and to re-establish national unity. Disillusioned by the cynical self-interest of the Western imperialist powers, the Chinese became more and more interested in the Soviet Union and in Marxist-Leninist thought. The Chinese Communist Party was organized in Shanghai in 1921, numbering among its original members Mao Zedong. In 1923 Sun Yat-sen agreed to accept Soviet advice in reorganizing the crumbling Kuomintang and its feeble military forces. At the same time he agreed to admit Communists to Kuomintang membership. Sun’s basic ideology, the Three Principles of Nationalism, Democracy, and Socialism, were charged with the spirit of anti-imperialism and national unification. Despite Sun’s death in 1925, the rejuvenated Kuomintang, under the leadership of the young general Chiang Kai-shek, launched a military expedition from its base in Guangzhou in 1926. Chiang sought to reunify China under Kuomintang rule and rid the country of imperialists and warlords. Before the Kuomintang completed the nominal reunification of China early in 1928, however, Chiang conducted a bloody purge of the party’s Communist membership, and from then on he relied upon support from the propertied classes and the foreign treaty powers.
The new national government that the Kuomintang established at Nanjing in 1928 was faced with three problems of overpowering magnitude. First, Chiang had actually brought only five provinces under his control. The remainder of the country was still governed by local warlords. Second, by the early 1930s he was confronted with an internal Communist rebellion. The Chinese Communists, after being purged from the Kuomintang in 1927, split into two factions and went underground. One faction attempted to foment urban uprisings; the other, headed by Mao Zedong, took to the countryside of central China, where it mobilized peasant support, formed a peasant army, and set up several soviet governments. The first faction eventually joined Mao in central China. Third, Chiang’s new government was faced with Japanese aggression in Dongbei and North China.
During the 1920s Japan had moderated its policy towards China. At the Washington Naval Conference of 1922, it had agreed to return the former German holdings in Shandong to China. After 1928, however, militant Kuomintang nationalism clashed with Japanese imperialist interests over the latter’s control of the South Manchurian Railway. On September 18, 1931, the Japanese seized on an alleged nationalist bombing of the railway to extend their military control over all Dongbei. The following spring the Japanese transformed the three provinces of Dongbei into the new state of Manchukuo and later made Henry Puyi, the last ruler of the Qing dynasty as Emperor Xuantong (Hsüan T’ung), its chief of state. Early in 1933 eastern Inner Mongolia was incorporated into Manchukuo. By mid-1933, Japan had extracted from China an agreement for the demilitarization of north-eastern Hebei.
In dealing with these three problems during the 1930s, Chiang Kai-shek negotiated with the domestic warlords and temporized with the Japanese, giving priority to the suppression of the Communist rebellion. Late in 1934, he succeeded in dislodging the Red Army from its base in central China, but the Communists fought their way across China to the west and then north on the so-called Long March, which terminated at Yan’an in Shaanxi Province. By 1936 they had established a new base in the north-west. As Japanese aggression intensified, popular pressure mounted for the Chinese to stop fighting among themselves and to unite against Japan. Chiang, however, resisted until late 1936, when he was kidnapped by one of his own generals. (See Xi’an Incident). During his captivity at Xi’an he was visited by Communist leaders, who urged the adoption of a common policy towards Japan. After his release he moderated his anti-Communist stand, and in 1937 a Kuomintang-Communist united front was formed against the Japanese.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:16 AM
G2 World War II
In 1937 Japan and China were plunged into full-scale war, the Sino-Japanese Conflict, as a result of a skirmish at the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing, the so-called Marco Polo Bridge Incident. By 1938 Japan had seized control of most of north-east China, the Yangzi Valley as far inland as Hankou, and the area around Guangzhou on the south-east coast. The Kuomintang moved its capital and most of its military force inland to Chongqing in the south-western province of Sichuan.
During World War II, the Kuomintang government in Chongqing suffered serious military and financial debilitation while the Communists, with their headquarters at Yan’an, significantly expanded their territorial bases, military forces, and party membership. After serious losses of men and equipment were sustained during the battle for eastern China in 1937 and 1938, the ranks of the Kuomintang armies were replenished by inadequately trained recruits. The re-equipping of these armies, for the most part, had to be delayed until 1945, when the first large-scale shipments of US military equipment reached the Nationalist government. Not only were the military forces of the Kuomintang government drastically weakened after 1938, but also the leadership was rent by factionalism. These problems were compounded by a condition of severe inflation that began in 1939, when the government, cut off from its main sources of income in Japanese-occupied eastern China, turned to the printing presses to finance the mounting costs of wartime operations. Despite substantial US financial aid, the inflationary trend worsened with a consequent growth in official corruption, loss of morale in the armed forces, and alienation of the civilian populace.
The Communists, on the other hand, fanned out from Yan’an, occupying much of North China and infiltrating many of the rural areas behind Japanese lines. There they skilfully organized the peasantry in their support and built up the ranks of the Communist Party and the Red Army. Unity and organizational discipline were maintained through a vigorous campaign of propaganda and thought reform. Large stockpiles of captured Japanese weapons and ammunition were turned over to the Communists by the Soviet forces that occupied Dongbei after the USSR declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945. As a result, the Communists emerged from World War II a far larger, stronger, better-disciplined, and better-equipped force than before.
G3 The Kuomintang-Communist Fight for Supremacy
In 1945, shortly after Japan surrendered, fighting broke out between Communist and Kuomintang troops over the reoccupation of Dongbei. A temporary truce was reached in 1946 through the mediation of the US general George C. Marshall. Although fighting was soon resumed, Marshall continued his efforts to bring the two sides together. In August 1946 the United States tried to strengthen Marshall’s hand as an impartial mediator by suspending its military aid to the Nationalist government. Nevertheless, hostilities continued, and in January 1947, convinced of the futility of further mediation, Marshall left China. The conflict quickly blossomed into full-scale civil war, and all hope of political rapprochement disappeared. In May 1947, US aid to the Nationalists was resumed. However, the government forces were wearied by two decades of nearly continuous warfare, the leadership was rent by internal disunity, and the economy was paralysed by spiralling inflation. In 1948 military initiative passed to the Communists, and in the summer of 1949, Nationalist resistance collapsed. The government, with the forces it could salvage, sought refuge on the island of Taiwan.
In September 1949 the Communists convened the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an ad hoc quasi-constituent body of 662 members, which adopted a set of guiding principles and an organic law for governing the country. The conference elected the Central People’s Government Council, which was to serve as the supreme policymaking organ of the state while the conference was not in session. Mao Zedong, who served as chairman of this body, was, in fact, head of state. In accordance with the powers delegated to it by the conference, the Central People’s Government Council set up the various organs of the central and local governments. At the national level, the Government Administrative Council headed by Zhou Enlai (Chou En-Lai) performed both the legislative and executive functions of government. Subordinate to the council were more than 30 ministries and commissions charged with the conduct of various aspects of state affairs. The new regime, called the People’s Republic of China, was officially proclaimed on October 1, 1949.
January 22nd, 2008, 06:26 AM
The first Sui emperor was Yang Jian (Yang Chien), a military servant who usurped the throne of the non-Chinese Northern Zhou in 581
Yang Jian is not non-Chinese,he is a Chinese but served to non-Chinese dynasty,later he usurped the throne and founded a new dynasty and conqured south.(Sounds like a "Roman-German"or "Turkic-Arab"story but on contrary)