Written records of the HISTORY OF CHINA can be found from as early as
1500 BC under the
Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC). Ancient
historical texts such as the
Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian (ca. 100
BC) and the
Bamboo Annals (before 296 BC) describe a
Xia dynasty (c.
2070–1600 BC), which had no system of writing on a durable medium,
before the Shang. The
Yellow River 's
Yellow river civilization is
said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization, although cultures
originated at various regional centers along both the
Yellow River and
Yangtze River 's
Yangtze civilization millennia ago in the
Neolithic era. With thousands of years of continuous history,
one of the world's oldest civilizations , and is regarded as one of
the cradles of civilization .
Chinese culture , literature and philosophy further developed
Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC). The
Zhou dynasty began to bow
to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the
kingdom eventually broke apart into smaller states, beginning in the
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period and reaching full expression in the Warring
States period . This is one of multiple periods of failed statehood in
Chinese history, the most recent being the
Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War that
started in 1927.
Between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties
have ruled parts or all of China; in some eras control stretched as
Tibet , as at present. In 221 BC Qin Shi Huang
united the various warring kingdoms and created for himself the title
of "emperor " (huangdi) of the
Qin dynasty , marking the beginning of
imperial China. Successive dynasties developed bureaucratic systems
that enabled the emperor to control vast territories directly. China's
last dynasty was the Qing (1644–1912), which was replaced by the
China in 1912, and in the mainland by the People\'s
China in 1949, resulting in two de facto states claiming
to be the legitimate government of all
In the 21 centuries from 206 BC until AD 1912, routine administrative
tasks were handled by a special elite, the Scholar-officials
("Scholar-gentlemen"). Young men were carefully selected through
difficult examinations and were well-versed in calligraphy and
philosophy. The conventional view of Chinese history is that of
alternating periods of political unity and disunity, with China
occasionally being dominated by steppe peoples, most of whom were in
turn assimilated into the
Han Chinese population. Cultural and
political influences from other parts of
Asia and the
Western world ,
carried by successive waves of immigration, cultural assimilation ,
expansion, and foreign contact, form the basis of the modern culture
* 1 Prehistory
* 1.1 Paleolithic
* 2 Ancient
Xia dynasty (2070–1600 BC)
Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC)
Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC)
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period (722–476 BC)
Warring States period
Warring States period (476–221 BC)
Qin dynasty (221–206 BC)
Han dynasty (202 BC–AD 220)
* 3.2.1 Western Han
Three Kingdoms (AD 220–280)
* 3.4 Jin dynasty (AD 265–420)
Northern and Southern dynasties (AD 420–589)
Sui dynasty (AD 581–618)
Tang dynasty (AD 618–907)
* 3.8 Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907–960)
* 3.9 Song, Liao, Jin, and
Western Xia dynasties (AD 960–1234)
Yuan dynasty (AD 1271–1368)
Ming dynasty (AD 1368–1644)
Qing dynasty (AD 1644–1911)
* 4 Modern
* 4.1 Republic of
China (since 1912)
* 4.2 People\'s Republic of
China (since 1949)
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 Further reading
* 7.1 Surveys
* 7.2 Prehistory
* 7.5 Qin
* 7.7 Jin, the Sixteen Kingdoms, and the Northern and Southern
* 7.14 Nationalist era (1912-present)
* 7.15 Communist era (1949–present)
* 7.15.1 Cultural Revolution, 1966–76
* 7.16 Economy and environment
* 7.17 Women and gender
* 7.18 Scholarly journals
* 7.19 Bibliography and reference
* 8 External links
Prehistoric cultures of
* Lower Xiajiadian
UPPER YELLOW RIVER
MIDDLE YELLOW RIVER
LOWER YELLOW RIVER
MIDDLE AND UPPER YANGTZE
LOWER YANGTZE AND HUAI
Yellow River civilization
List of Paleolithic sites in China
What is now
China was inhabited by
Homo erectus more than a million
years ago. Recent study shows that the stone tools found at
Xiaochangliang site are magnetostratigraphically dated to 1.36 million
years ago. The archaeological site of
Xihoudu in Shanxi Province is
the earliest recorded use of fire by Homo erectus, which is dated 1.27
million years ago. The excavations at Yuanmou and later Lantian show
early habitation. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Homo erectus
China is the so-called
Peking Man discovered in 1923–27.
Fossilised teeth of Homo sapiens dating to 125,000–80,000 BC have
been discovered in
Fuyan Cave in
Dao County in
List of Neolithic cultures of China
Neolithic age in
China can be traced back to about 10,000 BC.
Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is
radiocarbon-dated to about 7000 BC. The earliest evidence of
cultivated rice, found by the
Yangtze River, is carbon-dated to 8,000
years ago. Farming gave rise to the
Jiahu culture (7000 to 5800 BC).
Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BC
have been discovered, "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as
the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing." These
pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters
confirmed to be written Chinese. Chinese proto-writing existed in
Jiahu around 7000 BC, Dadiwan from 5800 BC to 5400 BC,
6000 BC and
Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BC. Some scholars
have suggested that
Jiahu symbols (7th millennium BC) were the
earliest Chinese writing system. Excavation of a Peiligang culture
Henan , found a community that flourished in
5,500 to 4,900 BC, with evidence of agriculture, constructed
buildings, pottery, and burial of the dead. With agriculture came
increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and
the potential to support specialist craftsmen and administrators. In
Neolithic times, the
Yellow River valley began to establish
itself as a center of
Yangshao culture (5000 BC to 3000 BC), and the
first villages were founded; the most archaeologically significant of
these was found at
Banpo , Xi\'an . Later,
Yangshao culture was
superseded by the
Longshan culture , which was also centered on the
Yellow River from about 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
List of Bronze Age sites in China Bronze Sacred Tree
Sanxingdui , linked to the kingdom of Shu
Bronze artifacts have been found at the
Majiayao culture site
(between 3100 and 2700 BC), The
Bronze Age is also represented at
Lower Xiajiadian culture (2200–1600 BC ) site in northeast
Sanxingdui located in what is now
Sichuan province is believed
to be the site of a major ancient city, of a previously unknown Bronze
Age culture (between 2000 and 1200 BC). The site was first discovered
in 1929 and then re-discovered in 1986. Chinese archaeologists have
Sanxingdui culture to be part of the ancient kingdom of
Shu , linking the artifacts found at the site to its early legendary
XIA DYNASTY (2070–1600 BC)
Xia dynasty Further information: Yellow river
Yangtze civilization , and
Xia dynasty of
China (from c. 2070 to c. 1600 BC) is the first
dynasty to be described in ancient historical records such as Sima
Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian and
Bamboo Annals .
The dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific
excavations found early
Bronze Age sites at Erlitou ,
Henan in 1959.
With few clear records matching the
Shang oracle bones, it remains
unclear whether these sites are the remains of the
Xia dynasty or of
another culture from the same period. Excavations that overlap the
alleged time period of the Xia indicate a type of culturally similar
groupings of chiefdoms. Early markings from this period found on
pottery and shells are thought to be ancestral to modern Chinese
According to ancient records, the dynasty ended around 1600 BC as a
consequence of the
Battle of Mingtiao .
SHANG DYNASTY (1600–1046 BC)
Oracle bones found dating from the
Shang dynasty Main article:
Shang dynasty Further information: Chinese
Bronze Age Capital: Yin
Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the
Shang dynasty, c. 1600–1046 BC, are divided into two sets. The first
set, from the earlier
Shang period, comes from sources at Erligang ,
Zhengzhou , and Shangcheng. The second set, from the later
Yin (殷) period, is at
Anyang , in modern-day
Henan , which has been
confirmed as the last of the Shang's nine capitals (c. 1300–1046
BC). The findings at
Anyang include the earliest written record of
Chinese past so far discovered: inscriptions of divination records in
ancient Chinese writing on the bones or shells of animals — the
so-called "oracle bones ", dating from around 1500 BC. Remnants
of advanced, stratified societies dating back to the
primarily in the
Yellow River Valley
31 kings reigned over the
Shang dynasty. During their reign,
according to the
Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian , the capital city was
moved six times. The final (and most important) move was to Yin in
1350 BC which led to the dynasty's golden age. The term Yin dynasty
has been synonymous with the
Shang dynasty in history, although it has
lately been used to refer specifically to the latter half of the Shang
Chinese historians living in later periods were accustomed to the
notion of one dynasty succeeding another, but the actual political
situation in early
China is known to have been much more complicated.
Hence, as some scholars of
China suggest, the Xia and the
possibly refer to political entities that existed concurrently, just
as the early Zhou is known to have existed at the same time as the
Although written records found at
Anyang confirm the existence of the
Shang dynasty, Western scholars are often hesitant to associate
settlements that are contemporaneous with the
Anyang settlement with
Shang dynasty. For example, archaeological findings at Sanxingdui
suggest a technologically advanced civilization culturally unlike
Anyang. The evidence is inconclusive in proving how far the Shang
realm extended from Anyang. The leading hypothesis is that Anyang,
ruled by the same
Shang in the official history, coexisted and traded
with numerous other culturally diverse settlements in the area that is
now referred to as
China proper .
ZHOU DYNASTY (1046–256 BC)
Bronze ritual vessel (You ), Western
Zhou dynasty Main
Zhou dynasty and
Iron Age China Capitals: Xi\'an , Luoyang
Zhou dynasty (1046 BC to approximately 256 BC) was the
longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history. By the end of the 2nd
millennium BC, the
Zhou dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River
valley, overrunning the territory of the Shang. The Zhou appeared to
have begun their rule under a semi-feudal system. The Zhou lived west
Shang , and the Zhou leader had been appointed Western
Protector by the Shang. The ruler of the Zhou, King Wu , with the
assistance of his brother, the
Duke of Zhou
Duke of Zhou , as regent, managed to
Shang at the
Battle of Muye .
The king of Zhou at this time invoked the concept of the Mandate of
Heaven to legitimize his rule, a concept that would be influential for
almost every succeeding dynasty. Like Shangdi, Heaven (tian) ruled
over all the other gods, and it decided who would rule China. It was
believed that a ruler had lost the
Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven when natural
disasters occurred in great number, and when, more realistically, the
sovereign had apparently lost his concern for the people. In response,
the royal house would be overthrown, and a new house would rule,
having been granted the Mandate of Heaven.
The Zhou initially moved their capital west to an area near modern
Xi\'an , on the
Wei River , a tributary of the Yellow River, but they
would preside over a series of expansions into the
valley. This would be the first of many population migrations from
north to south in Chinese history.
SPRING AND AUTUMN PERIOD (722–476 BC)
Chinese pu vessel with interlaced dragon design, Spring and
Autumn period Remains of city sewer passing underneath the
former city wall in
Ancient Linzi ,
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period Main
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period Further information: Chinese Iron
Age Capitals: several (multiple states)
In the 8th century BC, 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
This marks the second major phase of the Zhou dynasty: the Eastern
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period is marked by a falling apart of the
central Zhou power. In each of the hundreds of states that eventually
arose, local strongmen held most of the political power and continued
their subservience to the Zhou kings in name only. Some local leaders
even started using royal titles for themselves.
China now consisted of
hundreds of states, some of them only as large as a village with a
As the era continued, larger and more powerful states annexed or
claimed suzerainty over smaller ones. By the 6th century BC most small
states had disappeared from being annexed and just a few large and
powerful principalities dominated China. Some southern states, such as
Chu and Wu, claimed independence from the Zhou, who undertook wars
against some of them (Wu and Yue). Many new cities were established in
this period and
Chinese culture was slowly shaped.
Once all these powerful rulers had firmly established themselves
within their respective dominions, the bloodshed focused more fully on
interstate conflict in the
Warring States period, which began when the
three remaining élite families in the Jin state – Zhao, Wei and Han
– partitioned the state. Many famous individuals such as
Lao Zi ,
Sun Tzu lived during this chaotic period.
Hundred Schools of Thought of
Chinese philosophy blossomed during
this period, and such influential intellectual movements as
Taoism , Legalism and
Mohism were founded, partly in
response to the changing political world. The first two philosophical
thoughts would have an enormous influence on Chinese culture.
WARRING STATES PERIOD (476–221 BC)
Warring States period
Warring States period Capitals: several (multiple
states) LEFT: a lacquerware painting from the Jingmen Tomb
(Chinese: 荊門楚墓; Pinyin: Jīngmén chǔ mù) of the State of
Chu (704–223 BC), depicting men wearing precursors to
traditional silk dress) and riding in a two-horsed chariot
RIGHT: A bronze figure of a charioteer from the
Warring States era of
the Zhou Dynasty, dated 4th to 3rd century BC
After further political consolidation, seven prominent states
remained by the end of 5th century BC, and the years in which these
few states battled each other are known as the
Warring States period
Warring States period .
Though there remained a nominal Zhou king until 256 BC, he was largely
a figurehead and held little real power.
Numerous developments were made during this period in culture and
mathematics, examples include an important literary achievement, the
Zuo Commentary on the
Spring and Autumn Annals
Spring and Autumn Annals , which summarizes the
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period and the bundle of 21 bamboo slips
from the Tsinghua collection, which was invented during this period
dated to 305 BC, are the worlds' earliest example of a two digit
decimal multiplication table , indicating that sophisticated
commercial arithmetic was already established during this period.
As neighboring territories of these warring states, including areas
Liaoning , were annexed, they were governed
under the new local administrative system of commandery and prefecture
(郡縣/郡县). This system had been in use since the Spring and
Autumn period, and parts can still be seen in the modern system of
Qin Shi Huang , the founder of the Qin Dynasty and
China Main article:
Qin dynasty Capital:
Historians often refer to the period from
Qin dynasty to the end of
Qing dynasty as Imperial China. Though the unified reign of the First
Qin Emperor lasted only 12 years, 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 (close to modern Xi\'an ). The doctrine of Legalism that
guided the Qin emphasized strict adherence to a legal code and the
absolute power of the emperor. This philosophy, while effective for
expanding the empire in a military fashion, proved unworkable for
governing it in peacetime. The Qin Emperor presided over the brutal
silencing of political opposition, including the event known as the
burning of books and burying of scholars . This would be the impetus
behind the later Han synthesis incorporating the more moderate schools
of political governance. The
Terracotta Army of
Qin Shi Huang
Major contributions of the Qin include the concept of a centralized
government, the unification of the legal code, development of the
written language, measurement, and currency of
China after the
tribulations of the Spring and Autumn and
Warring States periods. Even
something as basic as the length of axles for carts—which need to
match ruts in the roads—had to be made uniform to ensure a viable
trading system throughout the empire. Also as part of its
centralization, the Qin connected the northern border walls of the
states it defeated, making the first
Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China .
A major Qin innovation that lasted until 1912 was reliance upon a
trained intellectual elite, the Scholar-official
("Scholar-gentlemen"). They were civil servants appointed by the
Emperor to handle daily governance. Talented young men were selected
through an elaborate process of imperial examination . They had to
demonstrate skill at calligraphy , and had to know Confucian
philosophy. Historian Wing-Tsit Chan concludes that: Generally
speaking, the record of these scholar-gentlemen has been a worthy one.
It was good enough to be praised and imitated in 18th century Europe.
Nevertheless, it has given
China a tremendous handicap in their
transition from government by men to government by law, and personal
considerations in Chinese government have been a curse.
After Emperor Qin Shi Huang's unnatural death due to the consumption
of mercury pills, the Qin government drastically deteriorated and
eventually capitulated in 206 BC after the Qin capital was captured
and sacked by rebels, which would ultimately lead to the establishment
of a new dynasty of a unified China. Despite the short 15-year
duration of the Qin dynasty, it was immensely influential on
the structure of future Chinese dynasties.
HAN DYNASTY (202 BC–AD 220)
Han dynasty Further information: History of the Han
dynasty Capitals: Chang\'an ,
Han dynasty oil lamp , with sliding shutter, in the shape of a
kneeling female servant (2nd century BC) Late Eastern Han
(25-220 AD) Chinese tomb murals showing (on the left) court attendants
with domestic wares, wearing
Hanfu , and (on the right) lively scenes
of a banquet (yanyin 宴饮), dance and music (wuyue 舞乐),
acrobatics (baixi 百戏), and wrestling (xiangbu 相扑), from the
Dahuting Tomb (Chinese: 打虎亭汉墓, Pinyin: Dahuting Han mu;
Wade-Giles: Tahut'ing Han mu), on the southern bank of the Suihe River
Henan province ,
China (just west of Xi County )
Han dynasty was founded by Liu Bang , who emerged victorious in
the civil war that followed the collapse of the unified but
Qin dynasty . A golden age in Chinese history, the Han
dynasty's long period of stability and prosperity consolidated the
China as a unified state under a central imperial
bureaucracy, which was to last intermittently for most of the next two
millennia. During the Han dynasty, territory of
China was extended to
most of the
China proper and to areas far west.
officially elevated to orthodox status and was to shape the subsequent
Chinese civilization. Art, culture and science all advanced to
unprecedented heights. With the profound and lasting impacts of this
period of Chinese history, the dynasty name "Han" had been taken as
the name of the Chinese people, now the dominant ethnic group in
modern China, and had been commonly used to refer to Chinese language
and written characters . The Han Dynasty also saw many mathematical
innovations being invented such as the method of Gaussian elimination
which appeared in the Chinese mathematical text Chapter Eight
Rectangular Arrays of
The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art . Its
use is illustrated in eighteen problems, with two to five equations.
The first reference to the book by this title is dated to 179 AD, but
parts of it were written as early as approximately 150 BC, more than
1500 years before the Europeans came up with the method in the 18th
After the initial Laissez-faire policies of Emperors Wen and Jing ,
the ambitious Emperor Wu brought the empire to its zenith. To
consolidate his power, Confucianism, which emphasizes stability and
order in a well-structured society, was given exclusive patronage to
be the guiding philosophical thoughts and moral principles of the
empire. Imperial Universities were established to support its study
and further development, while other schools of thought were
Major military campaigns were launched to weaken the nomadic Xiongnu
Empire , limiting their influence north of the Great Wall. Along with
the diplomatic efforts led by
Zhang Qian , the sphere of influence of
the Han Empire extended to the states in the Tarim Basin , opened up
Silk Road that connected
China to the west, stimulating bilateral
trade and cultural exchange. To the south, various small kingdoms far
Yangtze River Valley were formally incorporated into the
Emperor Wu also dispatched a series of military campaigns against the
Baiyue tribes. The Han annexed Minyue in 135 BC and 111 BC, Nanyue in
111 BC , and Dian in 109 BC . Migration and military expeditions led
to the cultural assimilation of the south. It also brought the Han
into contact with kingdoms in Southeast Asia, introducing diplomacy
After Emperor Wu , the empire slipped into gradual stagnation and
decline. Economically, the state treasury was strained by excessive
campaigns and projects, while land acquisitions by elite families
gradually drained the tax base. Various consort clans exerted
increasing control over strings of incompetent emperors and eventually
the dynasty was briefly interrupted by the usurpation of
Wang Mang .
In AD 9, the usurper
Wang Mang claimed that the Mandate of Heaven
called for the end of the
Han dynasty and the rise of his own, and he
founded the short-lived Xin ("New") dynasty .
Wang Mang started an
extensive program of land and other economic reforms, including the
outlawing of slavery and land nationalization and redistribution.
These programs, however, were never supported by the landholding
families, because they favored the peasants . The instability of power
brought about chaos, uprisings, and loss of territories. This was
compounded by mass flooding of the
Yellow River ; silt buildup caused
it to split into two channels and displaced large numbers of farmers.
Wang Mang was eventually killed in
Weiyang Palace by an enraged
peasant mob in AD 23.
Eastern Han glazed ceramic statue of a horse with
bridle and halter headgear, from
Sichuan , late 2nd century to early
3rd century AD
Emperor Guangwu reinstated the
Han dynasty with the support of
landholding and merchant families at
Luoyang , east of the former
capital Xi\'an . Thus, this new era is termed the
Eastern Han dynasty
. With the capable administrations of Emperors Ming and Zhang , former
glories of the dynasty was reclaimed, with brilliant military and
cultural achievements. The
Xiongnu Empire was decisively defeated .
The diplomat and general
Ban Chao further expanded the conquests
Pamirs to the shores of the
Caspian Sea , thus reopening
Silk Road , and bringing trade, foreign cultures, along with the
Buddhism . With extensive connections with the west, the
first of several Roman embassies to
China were recorded in Chinese
sources, coming from the sea route in AD 166, and a second one in AD
Han dynasty was one of the most prolific era of science
and technology in ancient China, notably the historic invention of
Cai Lun , and the numerous scientific and mathematical
contributions by the famous polymath
Zhang Heng .
THREE KINGDOMS (AD 220–280)
Three Kingdoms Capitals:
Cao Wei and Western
Shu Han );
Eastern Wu ); Chang\'an (Western
Eastern Han (25-220 AD) Chinese stone-carved que pillar
gates of Dingfang,
Zhong County ,
Chongqing that once belonged to a
temple dedicated to the
Warring States era general
By the 2nd century, the empire declined amidst land acquisitions,
invasions, and feuding between consort clans and eunuchs . The Yellow
Turban Rebellion broke out in AD 184, ushering in an era of warlords .
In the ensuing turmoil, three states tried to gain predominance in the
period of the
Three Kingdoms . This time period has been greatly
romanticized in works such as Romance of the
Three Kingdoms .
Cao Cao reunified the north in 208, his son proclaimed the Wei
dynasty in 220. Soon, Wei's rivals Shu and Wu proclaimed their
China into the
Three Kingdoms period. This
period was characterized by a gradual decentralization of the state
that had existed during the Qin and Han dynasties, and an increase in
the power of great families.
In 265, the Jin dynasty overthrew the Wei and later unified the
country in 280, but this union was short-lived.
JIN DYNASTY (AD 265–420)
Jin dynasty (265–420) and
Capitals: Chang\'an (Western Jin);
Jiankang (Eastern Jin)
The Jin dynasty was severely weakened by interceine fighting among
imperial princes and lost control of northern
China after non-Han
Chinese settlers rebelled and captured
Luoyang and Chang’an. In 317,
a Jin prince in modern-day
Nanjing became emperor and continued the
dynasty, now known as the Eastern Jin, which held southern
another century. Prior to this move, historians refer to the Jin
dynasty as the Western Jin.
China fragmented into a series of independent kingdoms ,
most of which were founded by
Xianbei , Jie , Di and Qiang
rulers. These non-Han peoples were ancestors of the Turks ,
Tibetans . Many had, to some extent, been "sinicized " long before
their ascent to power. In fact, some of them, notably the Qiang and
the Xiongnu, had already been allowed to live in the frontier regions
within the Great Wall since late Han times. During the period of the
Sixteen Kingdoms , warfare ravaged the north and prompted large-scale
Han Chinese migration south to the
Yangtze Basin and Delta.
NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN DYNASTIES (AD 420–589)
Northern and Southern dynasties Capitals: Ye ,
Northern Dynasties );
Southern Dynasties )
Royal tortoise tombstone in
Xiao Xiu 's mausoleum, Liang dynasty
(502–587) A bixie (winged lion) at the tomb of Xiao Hui, seen
against the background of Ganjiaxiang, an industrial section of Qixia
In the early 5th century,
China entered a period known as the
Northern and Southern dynasties, in which parallel regimes ruled the
northern and southern halves of the country. In the south, the Eastern
Jin gave way to the Liu Song ,
Southern Qi , Liang and finally Chen .
Each of these
Southern Dynasties were led by
Han Chinese ruling
families and used
Jiankang (modern Nanjing) as the capital. They held
off attacks from the north and preserved many aspects of Chinese
civilization, while northern barbarian regimes began to sinify.
In the north, the last of the
Sixteen Kingdoms was extinguished in
439 by the
Northern Wei , a kingdom founded by the
Xianbei , a nomadic
people who unified northern China. The
Northern Wei eventually split
into the Eastern and
Western Wei , which then became the Northern Qi
Northern Zhou . These regimes were dominated by
Xianbei or Han
Chinese who had married into
Despite the division of the country,
Buddhism spread throughout the
land. In southern China, fierce debates about whether
be allowed were held frequently by the royal court and nobles.
Finally, towards the end of the Southern and
Northern Dynasties era,
Buddhists and Taoists reached a compromise and became more tolerant of
SUI DYNASTY (AD 581–618)
Sui dynasty Capital: Daxing (official); Dongdu
Sui dynasty was a pivotal period in Chinese history.
Founded by Emperor Wen in 581 in succession of the Northern Zhou
dynasty , the Sui went on to conquer the Southern
Chen dynasty in 589
to reunify China, ending three centuries of political division. The
Sui pioneered many new institutions, including the government system
Three Departments and Six Ministries , imperial examinations for
selecting officials from commoners, while improved on the systems of
conscripted army and land distributions . These policies, which were
adopted by later dynasties, brought enormous population growth, and
amassed excessive wealth to the state. Standardized coinage were
enforced throughout the unified empire.
Buddhism took root as a
prominent religion and were supported officially. The
Sui Dynasty was
known for its numerous mega-construction projects. Intended for grains
shipment and transporting troops, the Grand Canal was constructed,
linking the capitals Daxing (Chang\'an) and
Luoyang to the wealthy
southeast region, and in another route, to the northeast border. The
Great Wall was also expanded, while series of military conquests and
diplomatic maneuvers further pacified its borders. However, the
massive invasions against the Korean
Goguryeo Kingdom failed
disastrously, triggering widespread revolts that led to the fall of
TANG DYNASTY (AD 618–907)
Tang dynasty Capitals: Chang\'an ,
Tang dynasty tricolored glaze porcelain horse (c. AD 700)
(1) (2) (3) (4) From left to right:
Buddhist art depicting musicians in paradise, a mural from the
Yulin Caves of
(2) an armed cortege, mural from the tomb of Li Xian at the Qianling
Mausoleum , early 8th century AD
(3) painting on a silk scroll of a female dancer from the Astana
Turpan ), c. 702 AD
(4) female figure as the planet Venus from the painting "Tejaprabhā
Buddha and the Five Planets" (熾盛光佛並五星圖), depicted as
playing the pipa , c. 897 AD
According to historian Mark Edward Lewis: Most Chinese regard the
Tang dynasty (618-907) as the high point of Imperial China, both
politically and culturally. The empire reached its greatest size prior
to the Manchu Qing Dynasty, becoming the center of and East Asian
world linked by religion, script, and many economic and political
institutions. Moreover, Tang writers produce the finest poetry in
China's great lyric tradition.
Tang dynasty was founded by Emperor Gaozu on 18 June 618. It was
a golden age of Chinese civilization and considered to be the most
prosperous period of
China with significant developments in culture,
art, literature, particularly poetry , and technology.
the predominant religion for the common people. Chang\'an (modern
Xi\'an ), the national capital, was the largest city in the world
during its time . Wooden relic from the Tang Dynasty.
The second emperor, Taizong , is widely regarded as one of the
greatest emperors in Chinese history , who had laid the foundation for
the dynasty to flourish for centuries beyond his reign. Combined
military conquests and diplomatic maneuvers were implemented to
eliminate threats from nomadic tribes, extend the border, and submit
neighboring states into a tributary system . Military victories in the
Tarim Basin kept the
Silk Road open, connecting
Chang'an to Central
Asia and areas far to the west. In the south, lucrative maritime trade
routes began from port cities such as
Guangzhou . There was extensive
trade with distant foreign countries, and many foreign merchants
settled in China, encouraging a cosmopolitan culture. The Tang culture
and social systems were observed and imitated by neighboring
countries, most notably, Japan . Internally the Grand Canal linked the
political heartland in
Chang'an to the agricultural and economic
centers in the eastern and southern parts of the empire.
Underlying the prosperity of the early
Tang dynasty was a strong
centralized bureaucracy with efficient policies. The government was
organized as "
Three Departments and Six Ministries " to separately
draft, review, and implement policies. These departments were run by
royal family members as well as scholar officials who were selected by
imperial examinations . These practices, which matured in the Tang
dynasty, were continued by the later dynasties, with some
modifications. Pagodas on the top of the Nine Pinnacle Pagoda
Under the Tang "equal-field system " all land was owned by the
Emperor and granted to people according to household size. Men granted
land were conscripted for military service for a fixed period each
year, a military policy known as the "
Fubing system ". These policies
stimulated a rapid growth in productivity and a significant army
without much burden on the state treasury. By the dynasty's midpoint,
however, standing armies had replaced conscription, and land was
continuously falling into the hands of private owners.
The dynasty continued to flourish under the rule of Empress Wu Zetian
, the only empress regnant in Chinese history, and reached its zenith
during the long reign of Emperor Xuanzong , who oversaw an empire that
stretched from the Pacific to the
Aral Sea with at least 50 million
people. There were vibrant artistic and cultural creations, including
works of the greatest Chinese poets ,
Li Bai , and
Du Fu .
At the zenith of prosperity of the empire, the An Lushan Rebellion
from 755 to 763 was a watershed event that devastated the population
and drastically weakened the central imperial government. Upon
suppression of the rebellion, regional military governors, known as
Jiedushi , gained increasingly autonomous status. With loss of revenue
from land tax, the central imperial government relied heavily on salt
monopoly . Externally, former submissive states raided the empire and
the vast border territories were irreversibly lost for subsequent
centuries. Nevertheless, civil society recovered and thrived amidst
the weakened imperial bureaucracy.
In late Tang period, there were ineffective and corrupt rulers and
officials in the imperial court allowing regional warlords to trigger
widespread revolts. The most catastrophic was the
Huang Chao Rebellion
, from 874 to 884, which affected the entire empire for a decade. The
sack of the southern port
Guangzhou in 879 was followed by the
massacre of most of its inhabitants, along with the large foreign
merchant enclaves. By 881, both capitals,
Luoyang and Chang\'an ,
fell successively. The reliance on ethnic Han and Turkic warlords in
suppressing the rebellion increased their power and influence.
Consequently, the fall of the dynasty following
Zhu Wen 's usurpation
led to an era of fragmentation .
FIVE DYNASTIES AND TEN KINGDOMS (AD 907–960)
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period Capitals:
Luoyang (Five Dynasties), various cities (Ten Kingdoms)
Section and detail of the scroll painting Night Revels of
Han Xizai ,
Gu Hongzhong , 10th century AD
The period of political disunity between the Tang and the Song, known
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period , lasted from 907 to
960. During this half-century,
China was in all respects a multi-state
system. Five regimes, namely, (Later) Liang , Tang , Jin , Han and
Zhou , rapidly succeeded one another in control of the traditional
Imperial heartland in northern China. Among the regimes, rulers of
(Later) Tang , Jin and Han were sinicized
Shatuo Turks , which ruled
over the ethnic majority of
Han Chinese . More stable and smaller
regimes of mostly ethnic Han rulers coexisted in south and western
China over the period, cumulatively constituted the "Ten Kingdoms".
Amidst political chaos in the north, the strategic Sixteen
Prefectures (region along today's Great Wall ) were ceded to the
emerging Khitan Liao Dynasty , which drastically weakened the defense
China proper against northern nomadic empires. To the south,
Vietnam gained lasting independence after being a Chinese prefecture
for many centuries . With wars dominated in Northern China, there were
mass southward migrations of population, which further enhanced the
southward shift of cultural and economic centers in China. The era
ended with the coup of
Later Zhou general Zhao Kuangyin , and the
Song dynasty in 960, which would eventually
annihilated the remains of the "Ten Kingdoms" and reunified China.
SONG, LIAO, JIN, AND WESTERN XIA DYNASTIES (AD 960–1234)
The Changqing Pagoda in
Huangshan City , China, built in 1049
Song dynasty Shrike on a tree in winter by Li Di
(1187) Main articles:
Song dynasty ,
Liao dynasty ,
Western Xia ,
Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) Further information: History of the
Song dynasty Capitals:
Kaifeng and Lin\'an (Song dynasty); Shangjing
Liao dynasty ); Shangjing , Zhongdu ,
Western Xia dynasty)
In 960, the
Song dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu , with its
capital established in
Kaifeng (also known as
Bianjing ). In 979, the
Song dynasty reunified most of the
China proper , while large swaths
of the outer territories were occupied by sinicized nomadic empires .
Liao dynasty , which lasted from 907 to 1125, ruled over
Mongolia , and parts of Northern
China . Meanwhile, in
what are now the north-western Chinese provinces of
Ningxia , the Tangut tribes founded the Western
Xia dynasty from
1032 to 1227.
Aiming to recover the strategic
Sixteen Prefectures lost in the
previous dynasty , campaigns were launched against the
Liao dynasty in
the early Song period , which all ended in failure. Then in 1004, the
Liao cavalry swept over the exposed
North China Plain and reached the
Kaifeng , forcing the Song's submission and then
agreement to the
Chanyuan Treaty , which imposed heavy annual tributes
from the Song treasury. The treaty was a significant reversal of
Chinese dominance of the traditional tributary system . Yet the annual
outflow of Song's silver to the Liao was paid back through the
purchase of Chinese goods and products, which expanded the Song
economy, and replenished its treasury. This dampened the incentive for
the Song to further campaign against the Liao . Meanwhile, this
cross-border trade and contact induced further sinicization within the
Liao Empire , at the expense of its military might which was derived
from its primitive nomadic lifestyle. Similar treaties and
social-economical consequences occurred in Song's relations with the
Jin dynasty .
Within the Liao Empire , the Jurchen tribes revolted against their
overlords to establish the Jin dynasty in 1115. In 1125, the
devastating Jin cataphract annihilated the
Liao dynasty , while
remnants of Liao court members fled to Central
Asia to found the Qara
Khitai Empire (Western Liao Dynasty) . Jin\'s invasion of the Song
dynasty followed swiftly. In 1127,
Kaifeng was sacked, a massive
catastrophe known as the
Jingkang Incident , ending the Northern Song
Dynasty . Later the entire north of
China was conquered . The survived
members of Song court regrouped in the new capital city of
and initiated the Southern
Song dynasty , which ruled territories
south of the
Huai River . In the ensuing years, the territory and
China were divided between the Song dynasty, the Jin
dynasty and the Western
Xia dynasty . The era ended with the Mongol
conquest , as
Western Xia fell in 1227, the Jin dynasty in 1234, and
finally the Southern
Song dynasty in 1279. Nine Dragons by Chen
Rong (13th century)
Despite its military weakness, the
Song dynasty is widely considered
to be the high point of classical Chinese civilization. The Song
economy , facilitated by technology advancement, had reached a level
of sophistication probably unseen in world history before its time.
The population soared to over 100 million and the living standards of
common people improved tremendously due to improvements in rice
cultivation and the wide availability of coal for production. The
capital cities of
Kaifeng and subsequently
Hangzhou were both the most
populous cities in the world for their time, and encouraged vibrant
civil societies unmatched by previous Chinese dynasties. As land
trading routes to far west were blocked by nomadic empires, there were
extensive maritime trade with neighbouring states, which facilitated
the use of Song coinage as the de facto currency of exchange. Giant
wooden vessels equipped with compasses travelled throughout the China
Seas and northern
Indian Ocean . The concept of insurance was
practised by merchants to hedge the risks of such long-haul maritime
shipments . With prosperous economic activities, the historically
first use of paper currency emerged in the western city of
as a supplement to the existing copper coins .
The Song Dynasty was considered to be the golden age of great
advancements in science and technology of China, thanks to innovative
scholar-officials such as
Su Song (1020–1101) and Shen Kuo
(1031–1095). Inventions such as the hydro-mechanical astronomical
clock, the first continuous and endless power-transmitting chain,
woodblock printing and paper money were all invented during the Song
There was court intrigue between the political reformers and
conservatives, led by the chancellors
Wang Anshi and
Sima Guang ,
respectively. By the mid-to-late 13th century, the Chinese had adopted
the dogma of
Neo-Confucian philosophy formulated by
Zhu Xi . Enormous
literary works were compiled during the Song dynasty, such as the
historical work, the
Zizhi Tongjian ("Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in
Government"). The invention of movable-type printing further
facilitated the spread of knowledge. Culture and the arts flourished,
with grandiose artworks such as Along the River During the Qingming
Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute
Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute , along with great
Buddhist painters such as the prolific
Lin Tinggui .
Song dynasty was also a period of major innovation in the history
of warfare .
Gunpowder , while invented in the
Tang Dynasty , was
first put into use in battlefields by the Song army, inspiring a
succession of new firearms and siege engines designs. During the
Southern Song Dynasty , as its survival hinged decisively on guarding
Huai River against the cavalry forces from the north,
the first standing navy in
China was assembled in 1132, with its
admiral 's headquarters established at
Dinghai . Paddle-wheel warships
equipped with trebuchets could launch incendiary bombs made of
gunpowder and lime, as recorded in Song's victory over the invading
Jin forces at the
Battle of Tangdao in the
East China Sea
East China Sea , and the
Battle of Caishi on the
Yangtze River in 1161.
The advances in civilization during the
Song dynasty came to an
abrupt end following the devastating
Mongol conquest , during which
the population sharply dwindled, with a marked contraction in economy.
Despite viciously halting Mongol advance for more than three decades,
the Southern Song capital
Hangzhou fell in 1276, followed by the final
annihilation of the Song standing navy at the
Battle of Yamen in 1279.
YUAN DYNASTY (AD 1271–1368)
Yang Guifei Mounting a Horse by Qian
Xuan (1235–1305 AD) Capitals: Xanadu , Dadu Further
Europeans in Medieval China
Kublai Khan , Mongol
ruler of the
Yuan dynasty , on a hunting expedition, painted on a silk
handscroll (fragment), 1280 AD, by the Chinese court artist Liu
Yuan Dynasty was formally proclaimed in 1271, when the Great Khan
of Mongol ,
Kublai Khan , one of the grandsons of
Genghis Khan ,
assumed the additional title of the
Emperor of China , and considered
his inherited part of the
Mongol Empire as a
Chinese Dynasty . In the
preceding decades, the
Mongols had conquered the Jin Dynasty in
Northern China, and the Southern
Song dynasty fell in 1279 after a
protracted and bloody war . The Mongol
Yuan Dynasty became the first
conquest dynasty in Chinese history to rule the entire
and its population as an ethnic minority . The dynasty also directly
Mongolia heartland and other regions, inheriting the
largest share of territory of the divided
Mongol Empire , which
roughly coincided with the modern area of
China and nearby regions in
East Asia . Further expansion of the empire was halted after defeats
in the invasions of Japan and
Vietnam . Following the previous Jin
Dynasty , the capital of
Yuan Dynasty was established at Khanbaliq
(also known as Dadu , modern-day
Beijing ). The Grand Canal was
reconstructed to connect the remote capital city to economic hubs in
southern part of China, setting the precedence and foundation where
Beijing would largely remain as the capital of the successive regimes
After the peace treaty in 1304 that ended a series of
wars , the emperors of the
Yuan Dynasty were upheld as the nominal
Great Khan (
Khagan ) of the greater
Mongol Empire over other Mongol
Khanates , which nonetheless remained de facto autonomous . The era
was known as
Pax Mongolica , when much of the Asian continent was
ruled by the Mongols. For the first and only time in history, the silk
road was controlled entirely by a single state, facilitating the flow
of people, trade, and cultural exchange. Network of roads and postal
system were established to connect the vast empire. Lucrative maritime
trade, developed from previous Song Dynasty , continued to flourish,
Hangzhou emerged as the largest ports in the world.
Adventurous travelers from far west, most notably the Venetian , Marco
Polo , would have settled in
China for decades. Upon his return, his
detail travel record inspired generations of medieval Europeans with
the splendors of the far East. The
Yuan Dynasty was the first ancient
economy, where paper currency , known at the time as Chao , was used
as the predominant medium of exchange. Its unrestricted issuance in
Yuan dynasty inflicted hyperinflation , which eventually
brought the downfall of the dynasty.
While the Mongol rulers of the
Yuan Dynasty adopted substantially to
Chinese culture, their sinicization was of lesser extent compared to
earlier conquest dynasties in Chinese history. For preserving racial
superiority as the conqueror and ruling class, traditional nomadic
customs and heritage from the Mongolian steppe were held in high
regard. On the other hand, the Mongol rulers also adopted flexibly to
a variety of cultures from many advanced civilizations within the vast
empire . Traditional social structure and culture in
immense transform during the Mongol dominance. Large group of foreign
migrants settled in China, who enjoyed elevated social status over the
Han Chinese , while enriching
Chinese culture with foreign
elements. The class of scholar officials and intellectuals,
traditional bearers of elite Chinese culture, lost substantial social
status. This stimulated the development of culture of the common
folks. There were prolific works in zaju variety shows and literary
songs (sanqu ), which were written in a distinctive poetry style known
as qu . Novels of vernacular style gained unprecedented status and
popularity. Notably, the earlier two of the four great classical
novels were written during the years of regime transition from Yuan to
Before the Mongol invasion, Chinese dynasties reported approximately
120 million inhabitants; after the conquest had been completed in
1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people. This major
decline is not necessarily due only to Mongol killings. Scholars such
as Frederick W. Mote argue that the wide drop in numbers reflects an
administrative failure to record rather than an actual decrease;
others such as
Timothy Brook argue that the
Mongols created a system
of enserfment among a huge portion of the Chinese populace, causing
many to disappear from the census altogether; other historians
including William McNeill and David Morgan consider that plague was
the main factor behind the demographic decline during this period. In
the 14th century
China suffered additional depredations from epidemics
of plague, estimated to have killed 25 million people, 30% of the
population of China.
Throughout the Yuan dynasty, there was some general sentiment among
the populace against the Mongol dominance. Yet rather than the
nationalist cause, it was mainly strings of natural disasters, and
incompetence governance that triggered widespread peasant uprisings
since the 1340s. After the massive naval engagement at Lake Poyang ,
Zhu Yuanzhang prevailed over other rebel forces in the south. He
proclaimed himself emperor and founded the
Ming Dynasty in 1368. The
same year his northern expedition army captured the capital Khanbaliq
. The Yuan remnants fled back to
Mongolia and sustained the regime .
Other Mongol Khanates in Central
Asia continued to exist after the
Yuan dynasty in China.
MING DYNASTY (AD 1368–1644)
City wall of Xi\'an , a Unesco
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site built during
Ming Dynasty Main article:
Ming dynasty Further
information: History of the
Ming dynasty Capitals:
Nanjing , Beijing
Hongwu Emperor , the founder of the
Ming dynasty was founded by
Zhu Yuanzhang in 1368, who proclaimed
himself as the
Hongwu Emperor . The capital was initially set at
Nanjing , and was later moved to
Beijing from Yongle Emperor\'s reign
Urbanization increased as the population grew and as the division of
labor grew more complex. Large urban centers, such as
Beijing , also contributed to the growth of private industry. In
particular, small-scale industries grew up, often specializing in
paper, silk, cotton, and porcelain goods. For the most part, however,
relatively small urban centers with markets proliferated around the
country. Town markets mainly traded food, with some necessary
manufactures such as pins or oil.
Despite the xenophobia and intellectual introspection characteristic
of the increasingly popular new school of neo-
Confucianism , 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 .
Hongwu Emperor , being the only founder of Chinese dynasties from the
peasant origin, had laid the foundation of a state that relied
fundamentally in agriculture. Commerce and trade, which flourished in
the previous Song and Yuan dynasties, were less emphasized. Neo-feudal
landholdings of the Song and Mongol periods were expropriated by the
Ming rulers. Land estates were confiscated by the government,
fragmented, and rented out. Private slavery was forbidden.
Consequently, after the death of the
Yongle Emperor , independent
peasant landholders predominated in Chinese agriculture. These laws
might have paved the way to removing the worst of the poverty during
the previous regimes. Towards later era of the
Ming dynasty , with
declining government control, commerce, trade and private industries
China under the reign of the
The dynasty had a strong and complex central government that unified
and controlled the empire. The emperor's role became more autocratic,
Hongwu Emperor necessarily continued to use what he called
Grand Secretariat " to assist with the immense paperwork of the
bureaucracy, including memorials (petitions and recommendations to the
throne), imperial edicts in reply, reports of various kinds, and tax
records. It was this same bureaucracy that later prevented the Ming
government from being able to adapt to changes in society, and
eventually led to its decline.
Yongle Emperor strenuously tried to extend China's influence
beyond its borders by demanding other rulers send ambassadors to China
to present tribute. A large navy was built, including four-masted
ships displacing 1,500 tons. A standing army of 1 million troops (some
estimate as many as 1.9 million) was created. The Chinese armies
conquered and occupied
Vietnam for around 20 years, while the Chinese
fleet sailed the
China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as
the east coast of Africa. The Chinese gained influence in eastern
Several maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute
for the Chinese emperor. Domestically, the Grand Canal was expanded
and became a stimulus to domestic trade. Over 100,000 tons of iron per
year were produced. Many books were printed using movable type. The
imperial palace in Beijing's
Forbidden City reached its current
splendor. It was also during these centuries that the potential of
China came to be fully exploited. New crops were widely
cultivated and industries such as those producing porcelain and
Esen Tayisi led an Oirat Mongol invasion of northern China
which culminated in the capture of the
Zhengtong Emperor at Tumu .
Since then, the Ming became on the defensive on the northern frontier,
which led to the
Ming Great Wall being built. Most of what remains of
Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China today was either built or repaired by the
Ming. The brick and granite work was enlarged, the watchtowers were
redesigned, and cannons were placed along its length.
At sea, the Ming became increasingly isolationist after the death of
the Yongle Emperor. The treasure voyages which sailed Indian Ocean
were discontinued, and the maritime prohibition laws were set in place
banning the Chinese from sailing abroad. European traders who reached
China in the midst of the
Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery were repeatedly rebuked in
their requests for trade, with the Portuguese being repulsed by the
Ming navy at
Tuen Mun in 1521 and again in 1522 . Domestic and foreign
demands for overseas trade, deemed illegal by the state, led to
widespread wokou piracy attacking the southeastern coastline during
the rule of the
Jiajing Emperor (1507-1567), which only subsided after
the opening of ports in
Fujian and much military
suppression . The Portuguese were allowed to settle in
Macau in 1557
for trade, which remained in Portuguese hands until 1999. The Dutch
entry into the Chinese seas was also met with fierce resistance, with
the Dutch being chased off the
Penghu islands in the Sino-Dutch
conflicts of 1622–1624 and were forced to settle in
The Dutch in
Taiwan fought with the Ming in the Battle of Liaoluo Bay
in 1633 and lost, and eventually surrendered to the Ming loyalist
Koxinga in 1662, after the fall of the Ming dynasty.
In 1556, during the rule of the
Jiajing Emperor , the Shaanxi
earthquake killed about 830,000 people, the deadliest earthquake of
Ming dynasty intervened deeply in the Japanese invasions of Korea
(1592-98) , which ended with the withdrawal of all invading Japanese
Korea , and the restoration of the
Joseon dynasty , its
traditional ally and tributary state . The regional hegemony of the
Ming dynasty was preserved at a toll on its resources. Coincidentally,
with Ming 's control in
Manchuria in decline, the Manchu (Jurchen )
tribes, under their chieftain
Nurhaci , broke away from Ming’s rule,
and emerged as a powerful, unified state, which was later proclaimed
Qing dynasty . It went on to subdue the much weakened
its tributary , conquered
Mongolia , and expanded its territory to the
outskirt of the Great Wall . The most elite army of the Ming dynasty
was to station at the
Shanhai Pass to guard the last stronghold
against the Manchus , which weakened its suppression of internal
peasants uprisings .
QING DYNASTY (AD 1644–1911)
The reception of the Diplomatique (Macartney ) and his suite, at
the Court of Pekin, drawn and engraved by
James Gillray (published
September 1792). Territory of Qing
China in 1892 Main
Qing dynasty Capitals:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911) was the last imperial dynasty in
China. Founded by the Manchus , it was the second conquest dynasty to
rule the entire territory of
China and its people. The Manchus were
formerly known as Jurchens , residing in the northeastern part of the
Ming territory outside the Great Wall. They emerged as the major
threat to the late
Ming dynasty after
Nurhaci united all Jurchen
tribes and established an independent state. However, the Ming dynasty
would be overthrown by
Li Zicheng 's peasants rebellion, with Beijing
captured in 1644 and the
Chongzhen Emperor , the last Ming emperor,
committing suicide. The Manchus allied with the former Ming general Wu
Sangui to seize Beijing, which was made the capital of the Qing
dynasty, and then proceeded to subdue the Ming remnants in the south .
The decades of Manchu conquest caused enormous loss of lives and the
economic scale of
China shrank drastically . In total, the Qing
conquest of the Ming (1618–1683) cost as many as 25 million lives.
Nevertheless, the Manchus adopted the Confucian norms of traditional
Chinese government in their rule and were considered a Chinese
The Manchus enforced a 'queue order,' forcing the
Han Chinese to
adopt the Manchu queue hairstyle . Officials were required to wear
Changshan (bannermen dress and
Tangzhuang ), but
ordinary Han civilians were allowed to wear traditional Han clothing,
Hanfu . Most Han then voluntarily shifted to wearing Qipao anyway.
Kangxi Emperor ordered the creation of the
Kangxi Dictionary , the
most complete dictionary of
Chinese characters that had been compiled.
Qing dynasty set up the
Eight Banners system that provided the
basic framework for the Qing military organization. Bannermen could
not undertake trade or manual labor; they had to petition to be
removed from banner status. They were considered a form of nobility
and were given preferential treatment in terms of annual pensions,
land, and allotments of cloth. Late-1890s French political
China divided among Britain, Germany, Russia, France
Over the next half-century, all areas previously under the Ming
dynasty were consolidated under the Qing.
Xinjiang , Tibet, and
Mongolia were also formally incorporated into Chinese territory.
Between 1673 and 1681, the
Kangxi Emperor suppressed the Revolt of the
Three Feudatories , an uprising of three generals in Southern China
who had been denied hereditary rule of large fiefdoms granted by the
previous emperor . In 1683, the Qing staged an amphibious assault on
Taiwan , bringing down the rebel
Kingdom of Tungning
Kingdom of Tungning , which
was founded by the Ming loyalist
Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) in 1662
after the fall of the Southern Ming, and had served as a base for
continued Ming resistance in Southern China. The Qing defeated the
Russians at Albazin , resulting in the
Treaty of Nerchinsk .
By the end of
Qianlong Emperor 's long reign, the Qing Empire was at
China ruled more than one-third of the world\'s population
, and had the largest economy in the world. By area it was one of the
largest empires ever .
In the 19th century the empire was internally stagnant and externally
threatened by western powers. The defeat by the
British Empire in the
First Opium War
First Opium War (1840) led to the
Treaty of Nanking (1842), under
Hong Kong was ceded to Britain and importation of opium
British Empire territories) was allowed. Subsequent
military defeats and unequal treaties with other western powers
continued even after the fall of the Qing dynasty.
Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864), a quasi-Christian
religious movement led by the "Heavenly King"
Hong Xiuquan , raided
roughly a third of Chinese territory for over a decade until they were
finally crushed in the
Third Battle of Nanking in 1864. This was one
of the largest wars in the 19th century in terms of troop involvement;
there was massive loss of life, with a death toll of about 20 million
. A string of civil disturbances followed, including the
Punti–Hakka Clan Wars ,
Nian Rebellion , Dungan Revolt , and Panthay
Rebellion . All rebellions were ultimately put down, but at enormous
cost and with millions dead, seriously weakening the central imperial
authority. The Banner system that the Manchus had relied upon for so
long failed: Banner forces were unable to suppress the rebels, and the
government called upon local officials in the provinces, who raised
"New Armies", which successfully crushed the challenges to Qing
China never rebuilt a strong central army, and many local
officials became warlords who used military power to effectively rule
independently in their provinces.
In response to calamities within the empire and threats from
Self-Strengthening Movement was an institutional
reform in the second half of the 1800s. The aim was to modernize the
empire, with prime emphasis on strengthening the military. However,
the reform was undermined by corrupt officials, cynicism, and quarrels
within the imperial family. As a result, the "
Beiyang Fleet " were
soundly defeated in the
First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). The
Guangxu Emperor and the reformists then launched a more comprehensive
reform effort, the Hundred Days\' Reform (1898), but it was soon
overturned by the conservatives under
Empress Dowager Cixi in a
At the turn of the 20th century, the violent
Boxer Rebellion opposed
foreign influence in Northern China, and attacked Chinese Christians
and missionaries. When Boxers entered Beijing, the Qing government
ordered all foreigners to leave. But instead the foreigners and many
Chinese were besieged in the foreign legations quarter . The
Eight-Nation Alliance sent the
Seymour Expedition of Japanese,
Russian, Italian, German, French, American, and Austrian troops to
relieve the siege. The Expedition was stopped by the Boxers at the
Battle of Langfang and forced to retreat. Due to the Alliance\'s
attack on the Dagu Forts , the Qing government in response sided with
the Boxers and declared war on the Alliance. There was fierce fighting
at Tientsin . The Alliance formed the second, much larger Gaselee
Expedition and finally reached
Beijing ; the Qing government evacuated
to Xi\'an . The
Boxer Protocol ended the war.
REPUBLIC OF CHINA (SINCE 1912)
History of the Republic of China and Republic of China
(1912–1949) See also: History of
Chongqing , several short-lived wartime capitals, Taipei
(after 1949; de facto)
Sun Yat-sen , founder and first president
of the Republic of
Frustrated by the Qing court's resistance to reform and by China's
weakness, young officials, military officers, and students began to
advocate the overthrow of the
Qing dynasty and the creation of a
republic. They were inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Sun Yat-sen
. A revolutionary military uprising, the
Wuchang Uprising , began on
10 October 1911, in
Wuhan . The provisional government of the Republic
China was formed in
Nanjing on 12 March 1912. The Xinhai Revolution
ended 2,000 years of dynastic rule in China.
After the success of the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat-sen
was declared President , but Sun was forced to turn power over to Yuan
Shikai , who commanded the
New Army and was Prime Minister under the
Qing government, as part of the agreement to let the last Qing monarch
abdicate (a decision Sun would later regret). Over the next few years,
Yuan proceeded to abolish the national and provincial assemblies, and
declared himself emperor in late 1915. Yuan's imperial ambitions were
fiercely opposed by his subordinates; faced with the prospect of
rebellion, he abdicated in March 1916, and died in June of that year.
Yuan's death in 1916 left a power vacuum in China; the republican
government was all but shattered. This ushered in the
Warlord Era ,
during which much of the country was ruled by shifting coalitions of
competing provincial military leaders.
In 1919, the
May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement began as a response to the terms
China by the
Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles ending
World War I
World War I , but
quickly became a nationwide protest movement about the domestic
situation in China. The protests were a moral success as the cabinet
China refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which had
awarded German holdings to Japan. The
New Culture Movement stimulated
May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement waxed strong throughout the 1920s and
1930s. According to Ebrey: "Nationalism, patriotism, progress,
science, democracy, and freedom were the goals; imperialism,
feudalism, warlordism, autocracy, patriarchy, and blind adherence to
tradition were the enemies. Intellectuals struggled with how to be
strong and modern and yet Chinese, how to preserve
China as a
political entity in the world of competing nations." The flag of
the Republic of
China from 1928 to now.
The discrediting of liberal Western philosophy amongst leftist
Chinese intellectuals led to more radical lines of thought inspired by
the Russian Revolution, and supported by agents of the Comintern sent
China by Moscow. This created the seeds for the irreconcilable
conflict between the left and right in
China that would dominate
Chinese history for the rest of the century.
In the 1920s,
Sun Yat-sen established a revolutionary base in south
China, and set out to unite the fragmented nation. With assistance
Soviet Union (itself fresh from a Lenin's takeover ), he
entered into an alliance with the fledgling
Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China .
After Sun's death from cancer in 1925, 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
(1926–1927). Having defeated the warlords in south and central China
by military force, Chiang was able to secure the nominal allegiance of
the warlords in the North. In 1927, Chiang turned on the CPC and
relentlessly chased the CPC armies and its leaders from their bases in
southern and eastern China. In 1934, driven from their mountain bases
such as the
Chinese Soviet Republic , the CPC forces embarked on the
Long March across China's most desolate terrain to the northwest,
where they established a guerrilla base at Yan\'an in Shaanxi
Province. During the Long March, the communists reorganized under a
Mao Zedong (
Mao Tse-tung). Chinese civilians buried
alive during the 1937
The bitter struggle between the KMT and the CPC continued, openly or
clandestinely, through the 14-year-long Japanese occupation of various
parts of the country (1931–1945). The two Chinese parties nominally
formed a united front to oppose the Japanese in 1937, during the
Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), which became a part of World
War II . Japanese forces committed numerous war atrocities against the
civilian population, including biological warfare (see
Unit 731 ) and
Three Alls Policy (Sankō Sakusen), the three alls being: "Kill
All, Burn All and Loot All".
Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, the war between the
Nationalist government forces and the CPC resumed, after failed
attempts at reconciliation and a negotiated settlement. By 1949, the
CPC had established control over most of the country (see Chinese
Civil War ). Westad says the Communists won the Civil War because they
made fewer military mistakes than Chiang, and because in his search
for a powerful centralized government, Chiang antagonized too many
interest groups in China. Furthermore, his party was weakened in the
war against the Japanese. Meanwhile, the Communists told different
groups, such as peasants, exactly what they wanted to hear, and
cloaked themselves in the cover of Chinese Nationalism. During the
civil war both the Nationalists and Communists carried out mass
atrocities, with millions of non-combatants killed by both sides.
These included deaths from forced conscription and massacres. When
the Nationalist government forces were defeated by CPC forces in
China in 1949, the Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan
with its forces, along with Chiang and most of the KMT leadership and
a large number of their supporters; the Nationalist government had
taken effective control of
Taiwan at the end of WWII as part of the
overall Japanese surrender, when Japanese troops in
to Republic of
Until the early 1970s, the Republic of
China was recognized as the
sole legitimate government of
China by the United Nations and most
Western nations, refusing to recognize the People's Republic of China
on account of the
Cold War . However, in 1971, Resolution 2758 was
passed by the UN General Assembly and "the representatives of Chiang
Kai-shek" (and thus the ROC) were expelled from the UN and replaced as
"China" by the PRC. In 1979, the United States switched recognition
Taipei to Beijing. The KMT ruled
Taiwan under martial law until
the late 1980s, with the stated goal of being vigilant against
Communist infiltration and preparing to retake mainland China.
Therefore, political dissent was not tolerated.
Since the 1990s, the ROC went from a one-party rule to a multi party
system thanks to a series of democratic and governmental reforms that
was implemented in Taiwan. Additional Articles of the Constitution was
passed to grant full civil and political rights to Taiwanese people
(officially the people of the
Free area of the Republic of China ).
Under the Additional Articles, the President and the national
legislators shall be directly elected. The first congressional
Taiwan was held in 1991 for National Assembly and 1992
Legislative Yuan . The first election for provincial Governors and
municipality Mayors was in 1994. Most importantly,
Taiwan held the
first direct election of the President and Vice President in 1996 .
PEOPLE\'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (SINCE 1949)
Main article: History of the People\'s Republic of
Major combat in the
Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with Kuomintang
(KMT) pulling out of the mainland, with the government relocating to
Taipei and maintaining control only over a few islands. The Communist
China was left in control of mainland
China . On 1 October
Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China.
"Communist China" and "Red China" were two common names for the PRC.
Mao Zedong proclaiming the establishment of the People\'s
China in 1949.
The PRC was shaped by a series of campaigns and five-year plans . The
economic and social plan known as the
Great Leap Forward caused an
estimated 45 million deaths. Mao's government carried out mass
executions of landowners, instituted collectivisation and implemented
Laogai camp system. Execution, deaths from forced labor and other
atrocities resulted in millions of deaths under Mao. In 1966
his allies launched the
Cultural Revolution , which continued until
Mao's death a decade later. The Cultural Revolution, motivated by
power struggles within the Party and a fear of the
Soviet Union , led
to a major upheaval in Chinese society.
In 1972, at the peak of the
Sino-Soviet split ,
Mao and Zhou Enlai
met US president
Richard Nixon in
Beijing to establish relations with
the United States. In the same year, the PRC was admitted to the
United Nations in place of the Republic of China, with permanent
membership of the Security Council. The flag of the People's
China from 1949 to now.
A power struggle followed Mao's death in 1976. The
Gang of Four
Gang of Four were
arrested and blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution,
marking the end of a turbulent political era in China. Deng Xiaoping
outmaneuvered Mao's anointed successor chairman
Hua Guofeng , and
gradually emerged as the de facto leader over the next few years.
Deng Xiaoping was the
Paramount Leader of
China from 1978 to 1992,
although he never became the head of the party or state, and his
influence within the Party led the country to significant economic
reforms . The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental
control over citizens' personal lives and the communes were disbanded
with many peasants receiving multiple land leases, which greatly
increased incentives and agricultural production. This turn of events
marked China's transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy
with an increasingly open market environment, a system termed by some
as "market socialism ", and officially by the Communist Party of China
Socialism with Chinese characteristics ". The PRC adopted its
current constitution on 4 December 1982.
In 1989 the death of former general secretary
Hu Yaobang helped to
spark the Tiananmen Square protests of that year, during which
students and others campaigned for several months, speaking out
against corruption and in favour of greater political reform,
including democratic rights and freedom of speech. However, they were
eventually put down on 4 June when PLA troops and vehicles entered and
forcibly cleared the square, with many fatalities. This event was
widely reported, and brought worldwide condemnation and sanctions
against the government. A filmed incident involving the "tank man "
was seen worldwide.
CPC general secretary and PRC President
Jiang Zemin and PRC Premier
Zhu Rongji , both former mayors of Shanghai, led post-Tiananmen PRC in
the 1990s. Under Jiang and Zhu's ten years of administration, the
PRC's economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants
out of poverty and sustained an average annual gross domestic product
growth rate of 11.2%. The country formally joined the World Trade
Organization in 2001.
Although the PRC needs economic growth to spur its development, the
government began to worry that rapid economic growth was degrading the
country's resources and environment. Another concern is that certain
sectors of society are not sufficiently benefiting from the PRC's
economic development; one example of this is the wide gap between
urban and rural areas. As a result, under former CPC general secretary
Hu Jintao and Premier
Wen Jiabao , the PRC initiated
policies to address issues of equitable distribution of resources, but
the outcome was not known as of 2014 . More than 40 million farmers
were displaced from their land, usually for economic development,
contributing to 87,000 demonstrations and riots across
China in 2005.
For much of the PRC's population, living standards improved very
substantially and freedom increased, but political controls remained
tight and rural areas poor.
* History of
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Great Wall of China
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* Religion in
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Shang dynasty § Further reading
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Sima Qian (1995).
Zhou dynasty § Further reading
Qin dynasty § Further reading
* Lewis, Mark Edward (2007). The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han.
History of imperial
China Series. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of
Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674024779 .
Han dynasty § Further reading
* de Crespigny, Rafe . 1972. The Ch’iang Barbarians and the Empire
of Han: A Study in Frontier Policy. Papers on Far Eastern History 16,
Australian National University. Canberra.
* de Crespigny, Rafe. 1984. Northern Frontier. The Policies and
Strategies of the Later Han Empire. Rafe de Crespigny. 1984. Faculty
of Asian Studies, Australian National University. Canberra.
* de Crespigny, Rafe (1990). Chapter One from Generals of the South:
the Foundation and early history of the
Three Kingdoms state of Wu.
China under the Later Han Dynasty". Asian Studies Monographs,
New Series No. 16. Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National
University, Canberra. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
* de Crespigny, Rafe (1996). "Later Han Military Administration: An
Outline of the Military Administration of the Later Han Empire". Asian
Studies Monographs, New Series No. 21 (Based on the Introduction to
Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling being the Chronicle of Later Han for the
years 189 to 220 AD as recorded in Chapters 59 to 69 of the Zizhi
Sima Guang ed.). Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian
National University. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
* Dubs, Homer H. 1938–55. The History of the Former Han Dynasty by
Pan Ku. (3 vol)
* Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the
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* Hulsewé, A. F. P. and Loewe, M. A. N., eds.
China in Central
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of chapters 61 and 96 of the History of the Former Han Dynasty. (1979)
* Twitchett, Denis and Loewe, Michael, eds. 1986. The Cambridge
History of China. Volume I. The Ch’in and Han Empires, 221 B.C. –
a.d. 220. Cambridge University Press.
* Yap, Joseph P. (2009) Wars With the
Xiongnu – A Translation From
Zizhi tongjian, AuthorHouse. ISBN 1-4900-0604-4
JIN, THE SIXTEEN KINGDOMS, AND THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN DYNASTIES
* de Crespigny, Rafe (1991). "The
Three Kingdoms and Western Jin: A
China in the Third Century AD". East Asian History. Faculty
of Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra (1 June
1991, pp. 1–36, & no. 2 December 1991, pp. 143–164). Retrieved 23
* Lewis, Mark Edward (2009).
China between Empires: The Northern and
Southern Dynasties. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard
University Press. ISBN 9780674040151 .
Sui dynasty § Further reading
* Wright, Arthur F. 1978. The Sui Dynasty. Alfred A. Knopf, New
York. ISBN 0-394-49187-4 , ISBN 0-394-32332-7 (pbk).
Tang dynasty § Further reading
* Benn, Charles. 2002. China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang
Dynasty. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517665-0 .
* Lewis, Mark Edward. 2012. China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang
Dynasty (2012). excerpt; A standard scholarly survey.
* Schafer, Edward H. 1967. The Vermilion Bird: T’ang Images of the
South. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Reprint 1985. ISBN 0-520-05462-8 .
* Shaffer, Lynda Norene. 1996. Maritime Southeast
Asia to 1500.
Armonk, New York, M.E. Sharpe, Inc. ISBN 1-56324-144-7 .
* Wang, Zhenping. 1991. "T’ang Maritime Trade Administration."
Asia Major, Third Series, Vol. IV, 1991, pp. 7–38.
Song dynasty § Further reading
* Ebrey, Patricia. The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of
Chinese Women in the Sung Period (1990)
* Gernet, , Jacques (1962). Daily Life in China, on the Eve of the
Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276. translated by Wright, H. M. Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804707200 .
* Hymes, Robert, and Conrad Schirokauer, eds. Ordering the World:
Approaches to State and Society in Sung Dynasty China, U of California
Press, 1993; complete text online free
* Kuhn, Dieter (2009). The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song
Transformation of China. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard
University Press. ISBN 9780674031463 .
* Shiba, Yoshinobu. 1970. Commerce and Society in Sung China.
Originally published in Japanese as So-dai sho-gyo—shi kenkyu-.
Tokyo, Kazama shobo-, 1968. Yoshinobu Shiba. Translation by Mark
Elvin, Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.
Yuan dynasty § Further reading
* Brook, Timothy (2010). The Troubled Empire:
China in the Yuan and
Ming Dynasties. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University
Press. ISBN 9780674046023 .
Ming dynasty § Further reading
* Brook, Timothy . The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture
in Ming China. (1998).
* —— (2010). The Troubled Empire:
China in the Yuan and Ming
Dynasties. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
ISBN 9780674046023 . 329 pages. Focus on the impact of a Little Ice
Age on the empire, as the empire, beginning with a sharp drop in
temperatures in the 13th century during which time the Mongol leader
Kubla Khan moved south into China.
* Dardess, John W. A Ming Society: T'ai-ho County, Kiangsi,
Fourteenth to Seventeenth Centuries. (1983); uses advanced "new social
history" complete text online free
* Farmer, Edward.
Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation: The
Reordering of Chinese Society Following the Era of Mongol Rule. E.J.
* Goodrich, L. Carrington, and Chaoying Fang. Dictionary of Ming
* Huang, Ray. 1587, A Year of No Significance: The
Ming Dynasty in
* Mote, Frederick W., and Denis Twitchett, eds. The Cambridge
History of China. Vol. 7, part 1: The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644
(1988). 1008 pp. excerpt and text search
* ——The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 8: The Ming Dynasty,
1368–1644, Part 2. (1998). 1203 pp.
* Schneewind, Sarah. A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in
Ming China. (2006).
* Tsai, Shih-shan Henry. Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor
Qing dynasty § Further reading
* Arthur W. Hummel . Eminent Chinese of the Ch`ing Period
(1644-1912) . (Washington: Library of Congress. Orientalia, Division;
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943). 2 vols. Reprinted: Berkshire,
2016. 800 still generally reliable biographical articles, a number of
which are online: Qing Research Portal.
* Fairbank, John K. and Liu, Kwang-Ching, ed. The Cambridge History
of China. Vol. 2: Late Ch'ing, 1800–1911, Part 2. Cambridge U.
Press, 1980. 754 pp.
* Mann, Susan. Precious Records: Women in China's Long Eighteenth
* Naquin, Sysan, and Evelyn S. Rawski. Chinese Society in the
Eighteenth Century (1989) excerpt and text search
* Peterson, Willard J., ed. The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 9,
Part 1: The Ch'ing Dynasty to 1800. Cambridge U. Press, 2002. 753 pp.
* Rawski, Evelyn S. The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing
Imperial Institutions (2001)
* Rowe, William T. (2009). China\'s Last Empire: The Great Qing.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674036123 .
* Smith, Richard J. (2015). The Qing Dynasty and Traditional Chinese
Culture. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442221949 .
* Struve, Lynn A., ed. The Qing Formation in World-Historical Time.
(2004). 412 pp.
* Struve, Lynn A., ed. Voices from the Ming-Qing Cataclysm:
Tigers' Jaws (1998)
* Yizhuang, Ding. "Reflections on the '
New Qing History ' School in
the United States," Chinese Studies in History, Winter 2009/2010, Vol.
43 Issue 2, pp 92–96.
NATIONALIST ERA (1912-PRESENT)
History of the Republic of China § Further
* Bergere, Marie-Claire. Sun Yat-Sen (1998), 480pp. Standard
* Boorman, Howard L., ed. Biographical Dictionary of Republican
China. (Vol. I-IV and Index. 1967–1979). 600 short scholarly
biographies excerpt and text search
* Dreyer, Edward L.
China at War, 1901–1949. (1995). 422 pp.
* Eastman Lloyd. Seeds of Destruction: Nationalist
China in War and
Revolution, 1937– 1945. (1984)
* Eastman Lloyd et al. The Nationalist Era in China, 1927–1949
* Ebrey, Patricia (1996), "Surnames and
Han Chinese Identity", in
Melissa J. Brown, Negotiating Ethnicities in
China and Taiwan,
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, ISBN 1557290482 .
* Edmondson, Robert (2002), "The
February 28 Incident
February 28 Incident and National
Identity", in Stephane Corcuff, Momories of the Future:National
Identity Issues and the Search for a New Taiwan, New York: M.E.
* Fairbank, John K., ed. The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 12,
China 1912–1949. Part 1. (1983). 1001 pp.
* Fairbank, John K. and Feuerwerker, Albert, eds. The Cambridge
History of China. Vol. 13: Republican China, 1912–1949, Part 2.
(1986). 1092 pp.
* Fogel, Joshua A . The
Nanjing Massacre in History and
* Gordon, David M. "The China-Japan War, 1931–1945," The Journal
of Military History v70#1 (2006) 137–182. Overview of important
books and interpretations; online
* Hsiung, James C. and Steven I. Levine, eds. China's Bitter
Victory: The War with Japan, 1937–1945 (1992), essays by scholars;
Questia online edition (by subscription;
* Hsi-sheng, Ch'i. Nationalist
China at War: Military Defeats and
Political Collapse, 1937–1945 (1982)
* Mitter, Rana . Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945.
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). ISBN 9780618894253 .
* Manthorpe, Jonathan (2008), Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan,
* Mitter, Rana. A Bitter Revolution : China's Struggle with the
Modern World. (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). ISBN
* Hung, Chang-tai. War and Popular Culture: Resistance in Modern
China, 1937–1945 (1994) complete text online free
* Lary, Diana. The Chinese People at War: Human Suffering and Social
Transformation, 1937–1945 (2010)
* Rubinstein, Murray A., ed. Taiwan: A New History (2006), 560pp
* Shiroyama, Tomoko.
China during the Great Depression: Market,
State, and the World Economy, 1929–1937 (2008)
* Singh, Gunjan. "Kuomintang, Democratization and the One-China
Principle", in Sharma, Anita; Chakrabarti, Sreemati,
Anthem Press, pp. 42–65 (2010) ISBN 9780857289667 .
* Shuyun, Sun. The Long March: The True History of Communist China's
Founding Myth (2007)
* Taylor, Jay. The Generalissimo:
Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle
for Modern China. (2009) ISBN 978-0-674-03338-2
* Westad, Odd Arne. Decisive Encounters: The Chinese Civil War,
1946–1950. (2003). 413 pp. A standard history
* Wilson, Richard W. Learning To Be Chinese: The Political
Socialization of Children in
COMMUNIST ERA (1949–PRESENT)
* Barnouin, Barbara, and Yu Changgen. Zhou Enlai: A Political Life
* Chang, Jung and Jon Halliday. Mao: The Unknown Story , (2005), 814
pages, ISBN 0-679-42271-4
* Davin, Delia (2013). Mao: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP.
* Dikötter, Frank. The Tragedy of Liberation : A History of the
Chinese Revolution, 1945-57. (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013). ISBN
* Dikötter, Frank. Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most
Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62. (London: Bloomsbury, 2010). ISBN
* Dittmer, Lowell. China's Continuous Revolution: The
Post-Liberation Epoch, 1949–1981 (1989) online free.
* Gao, Wenqian (2007). Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary.
translated by Rand, Peter and Lawrence R. Sullivan. NY: Public
Affairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-415-6 . . Both sympathetic and critical.
* Kirby, William C.; Ross, Robert S.; and Gong, Li, eds.
Normalization of U.S.-
China Relations: An International History.
(2005). 376 pp.
* Li, Xiaobing. A History of the Modern Chinese Army (2007)
* MacFarquhar, Roderick and Fairbank, John K., eds. The Cambridge
History of China. Vol. 15: The People's Republic, Part 2: Revolutions
within the Chinese Revolution, 1966–1982. Cambridge U. Press, 1992.
* Meisner, Maurice . Mao's
China and After: A History of the
People’s Republic, 3rd ed. (Free Press, 1999), dense book with
theoretical and political science approach.
* Pantsov, Alexander and Steven I. Levine.
Deng Xiaoping : A
Revolutionary Life. Oxford University Press, 2015). ISBN 9780199392032
* Pantsov, Alexander, With Steven I Levine. Mao: The Real Story.
(New York: Simon Pickowicz, Paul G.; and Walder, Andrew G., eds. The
Cultural Revolution as History. (2006). 382 pp.
* Jian, Guo; Song, Yongyi; and Zhou, Yuan. Historical Dictionary of
the Chinese Cultural Revolution. (2006). 433 pp.
* Richard Curt Kraus. The Cultural Revolution: A Very Short
Introduction. (New York: Oxford University Press, Very Short
Introductions Series, 2012). ISBN 9780199740550 .
* MacFarquhar, Roderick and Fairbank, John K., eds. The Cambridge
History of China. Vol. 15: The People's Republic, Part 2: Revolutions
within the Chinese Revolution, 1966–1982. Cambridge U. Press, 1992.
* MacFarquhar, Roderick and Michael Schoenhals. Mao's Last
* MacFarquhar, Roderick. The Origins of the Cultural Revolution.
Vol. 3: The Coming of the Cataclysm, 1961–1966. (1998). 733 pp.
* Yan, Jiaqi and Gao, Gao. Turbulent Decade: A History of the
Cultural Revolution. (1996). 736 pp.
ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT
* Chao, Kang. Man and Land in Chinese History: An Economic Analysis
(Stanford UP, 1986)
* Chow, Gregory C. China's Economic Transformation (2nd ed. 2007)
* Elvin, Mark. Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of
China. (2004). 564 pp.
* Elvin, Mark and Liu, Ts'ui-jung, eds. Sediments of Time:
Environment and Society in Chinese History. (1998). 820 pp.
* von Glahn, Richard. The Economic History of China: From Antiquity
to the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge UP, 2016). 461 pp. online review
* Ji, Zhaojin. A History of Modern Shanghai Banking: The Rise and
Decline of China's Finance Capitalism. (2003. 325) pp.
* Naughton, Barry. The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth
* Rawski, Thomas G. and Lillian M. Li, eds.
Chinese History in
Economic Perspective, University of California Press, 1992 complete
text online free
* Sheehan, Jackie. Chinese Workers: A New History. Routledge, 1998.
* Stuart-Fox, Martin. A Short History of
China and Southeast Asia:
Tribute, Trade and Influence. (2003). 278 pp.
WOMEN AND GENDER
* Ebrey, Patricia. The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of
Chinese Women in the Sung Period (1990)
* Hershatter, Gail, and Wang Zheng. "Chinese History: A Useful
Category of Gender Analysis," American Historical Review, Dec 2008,
Vol. 113 Issue 5, pp 1404–1421
* Hershatter, Gail. Women in China's Long Twentieth Century (2007),
full text online
* Hershatter, Gail, Emily Honig, Susan Mann, and Lisa Rofel, eds.
Guide to Women's Studies in
* Ko, Dorothy. Teachers of Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in
China, 1573–1722 (1994)
* Mann, Susan. Precious Records: Women in China's Long Eighteenth
* Wang, Shuo. "The 'New Social History' in China: The Development of
Women's History," History Teacher, May 2006, Vol. 39 Issue 3, pp
Central Asian Survey
* Chinese Studies in History
East Asian History
* Early Medieval China. Covers the period between the end of the Han
and beginning of the Tang.
* Journal of Modern
* Modern China: An International Journal of History and Social
* Sino-Japanese Studies
* T\'oung Pao: International Journal of Chinese Studies
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCE
Benjamin Elman , Classical Historiography For Chinese History,
(November 2015) Princeton University. Extensive lists of sinological
resources and bibliography.
* Cheng, Linsun (2009). Berkshire Encyclopedia of China. Great
Barrington, Mass.: Berkshire Pub. Group. ISBN 9781933782683 .
* Hayford, Charles (1997). China. World Bibliograpical Series.
Oxford, England; Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press. ISBN 1851092358 . .
Selective, annotated bibliography; up to 1995.
* Li, Xiaobing.
China at War: An Encyclopedia (2012).
* Pong., David (2009). Encyclopedia of Modern China. Farmington
Hills, MI: Charles Scribner's Sons/Gale Cengage Learning. ISBN
* Wilkinson, Endymion , Chinese History: A New Manual , Harvard
Asia Center (for the Harvard-Yenching Institute), 2013,
1128p., ISBN 978-0-674-06715-8 . Supersedes Wilkinson (2000). Though
aimed at research specialists, contains many useful summaries that
will be useful for general readers.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to HISTORY OF CHINA .
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for CHINESE EMPIRE .
* (in Chinese) Chinese Database by
Academia Sinica .
China from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs
* (in Chinese) Manuscript and Graphics Database by Academia Sinica.
* Ulrich Theobald,
China Knowledge (2016) Online encyclopaedia of
traditional China, including literature, philosophy, art, and other
* Chinese Text Project, texts and translations of historical Chinese
* Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home, an exploration of domestic Chinese
architecture during the Qing