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China History


Systematic archaeological activity in China first began in the 1920s; before that, the knowledge of the country's material past had to a not insignificant extent been derived from the plundering of graves and holy sites. A native ancient academy of knowledge was founded in 1928. By 1921, however, the remains of primitive people had been found in the caves at Zhoukoudian, 46 km southwest of Beijing. The settlements of these early "beekeepers" - formerly classified as their own species, Sinanthropus pekinensis, now counted as Homo erectus - are estimated to have been used between about 600,000 and 230,000 years ago.

History of ChinaEven older human remains were later found in Yuanmou in Yunnan and Lantian in eastern Shaanxi: finds from Lantian were recently dated to about 1,300,000 years before today. In a cultural warehouse at Zhoukoudian, early remains of the modern man (Homo sapiens) were also found. The age of the finds is estimated to be about 25,000 years. In recent decades, hundreds of finds from the later phase of the older Stone Age have been found all over China, and the paleo- and Mesolithic population has been divided into several hunter and gatherer cultures.

History of China

The first traces of a Neolithic culture, named after the Yangshao find village in Henan, were also found in 1921, by Johan Gunnar Andersson. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of China. Its earliest phase has been dated to about 6000 BC Important finds are located along the Huang Hes valley in Henan, Shanxi and Shaanxi (compare Banpo), further in the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai. Yangshao culture was based on millet cultivation. Characteristic housing was first pit houses, later clay-clad buildings. An elegant handmade, polychrome painted ceramic was made. South-east and east of the Yangshuo culture area, two regional cultures were developed: the qingliangang culture around Chang Jiang's lower race in southern Jiangsu, and the dawenkou culturein Shandong, northern Jiangsu and eastern Henan. The oldest known example of rice cultivation, dating to around 5000 BC, is so far located at the Hemudu settlement in Zhejiang, China. See

Towards the end of the 1920s, the advanced longshan culture was discovered, named after a bargain in Shandong. Longshan culture - in a wider sense also a collective term for several communicative agricultural cultures in eastern China - appeared fully developed in the mid-3000s BC. and represents the transition phase to the Bronze Age. The finds show an increasing social stratification in the villages from the Neolithic era and the Early Bronze Age. Societies gradually became more and more centralized. expressed itself in extensive public works such as large-scale burial grounds and defense facilities. Diversification within the business sector increased.

The transition from family hierarchical rule to organized states with professional armies under a king (wang) took place gradually. The historical work "Shiji" from the end of the second century BC mentions a first imperial dynasty, Xia, which must have ruled for 471 years and then overthrown by the founder of the Shang dynasty. The history of the Xiad dynasty has so far been impossible to prove and has been questioned many times. However, some researchers distinguish a bargain horizon in Henan and Shanxi as a precursor to Shang, which they call Xia.

Shang Dynasty (c. 1500-1040 BC)

The background to China's very long cultural continuity was long hidden in a complex of popular beliefs and legends, with renowned founders and cultural heroes such as Huang Di ('the yellow emperor'), Hou Ji ('the lord of the mills') and Yu (mythical channel builder and founder of The Xiad dynasty) played a prominent role. Central Chinese Shangriket is the oldest state historically viable, a process that began when numerous inscribed bone pieces and tortoise shell pieces were found in 1899 at the village of Xiaotun, northwest of Anyang in Henan Province. During the years 1928-37, excavations uncovered parts of the last capital of the Shang Dynasty, Yin, founded around 1300 BC. Thus, it was found that the earlier finds of bones and turtle shells originated from the Shanghai Army's archives.

The Shang empire stretched from eastern Shaanxi in the west to middle Shandong in the east and from southern Hebei in the north to northern Hubei and Anhui in the south. It was strongly hierarchical; the political power lay with the king. He also had important sacred duties and therefore appears most like a "shaman king". It was up to him to explore the will of the higher powers; the oracle texts are notes of a dialogue between the king and the spirits of his deceased ancestor. The king's questions regarding the oracle concerned, among other things. the victims of the ancestors, the crop, the weather and the hunting and war happiness.

The oracle script is the forerunner of our Chinese script today; a recent list occupies 4,672 different characters. The archive spans eleven reigns, from Panʻgeng, founder of the capital Yin, to the last king of the dynasty, Dixin. Together with the other archaeological finds, it gives a good picture of the material and spiritual culture of the Shang Dynasty. Religion included ancestral cult and the worship of nature spirits, who obeyed the heavenly god Shangdi ('the Supreme Ruler'). The advanced bronze casting technology was used almost exclusively for the production of weapons and ritual vessels. Agriculture was the foremost industry of the Shang world; the most important crops were millet, wheat and rice.


Zhoudynastin (1040-256 BC)

The Shang empire overthrew 1040 BC by the princes of Zhou, a vassal state in the valley of the Weif River in present-day Shaanxi. Sources from the first half of their era, called Western Zhou (1040-771 BC), claim that the king of Zhou was a descendant of the "Supreme Ruler", now called Tian ("Heaven"). In his capacity as Tianzi ("Son of Heaven"), the king had received "the mission of Heaven" (tianming) to rule the earth. The idea of tianmingcame to be of great importance for China's political development. However, as the feudal system established under Shang was further developed, the king's power gradually came to be taken over by powerful feudal princes. From about 770 BC was the king's principal duty to officiate at the religious ceremonies which could only be performed by the "Son of Heaven."

The development during the following period, also called Eastern Zhou (770-256 BC), has been documented in two historical works named for the ※Spring and Autumn Period§ (770-403 BC) and ※The Warring States period §(403-221 BC). Among the most powerful and long-lived among the many states of Zhongguo ('the Central Kingdoms', the latter term 'the Middle Kingdom') during these five centuries, Jin belonged to Shanxi, Qin to Shaanxi and Qi to the Shandong Peninsula. In addition, the non-Chinese empire Chu was in Chang Jiang's valley, with its center in Hubei (sometimes including large parts of Henan and Hunan, among others).

During this time, the rival thought systems were also formulated Confucianism, Daoism and Legalism, all of which were of great importance for the further political and cultural development. During the Late Zhou period, the population was divided into four classes: nobility, peasants, craftsmen and merchants. The nobility was religiously conditioned, and only the nobility had the right to worship their ancestors in the clan's ancestral temple.

Qind Dynasty (221-207 BC)

Already in the 300s BC the princes of the state of Qin had taken vigorous measures to quell the power of their vassals. The fast-growing empire was divided into a number of administrative units, xian, which were directly subordinate to the court and whose tax revenue went to the prince. These innovations were based on theories launched by the real-world thinker Shang Yang (dead 338 BC). According to him, only agriculture and conquest wars could enrich the state and strengthen the prince's power. The peasants were favored by price increases on agricultural products; high taxes for other traders also made the binaries less attractive.

The political new order was secured through a consistently designed system of punishments and rewards. The laws were easy to understand, so that they could be understood and obeyed by everyone. The punishment also affected everyone, without distinction. This equality before the law meant that the nobility lost one of its most important privileges. Several of Shang Yang's reforms sought to break the power of aristocracy. His tax policy helped to cut off the loyalty ties that held the traditional extended family together. By demanding double taxation from every man who did not form a family, he forced the people to create nuclear families, a social structure that became characteristic of the Qin state and the Qind dynasty.

The prince of Qin had 221 BC managed to subdue all rivals for power. He now proclaimed himself to Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of Qin. During his brief reign (221-210 BC), the foundation of the Chinese empire was laid. As early as 220 BC work was started on a national road from Liaodong Bay to southern China; a richly branched road network later came to connect the different parts of the country with the capital Xianyang in Shaanxi. Coins, dimensions and weights were made uniform, and all wagons in the kingdom were equipped with wheel axles of the same length. The walls that the Rand states in the north had previously erected as protection against the Central Asian nomadic people were now linked to the so-called "long wall" (compare the Chinese wall).

The military expansion of the new empire was directed south, and in 214 BC. a large area down to present Vietnam had been conquered. In the footsteps of the armies followed farmers who broke ground and fortified the emperor's empire. The feudal aristocracy's power was broken by confiscating their goods. The kingdom was divided into 40 counties, in turn divided into districts (xian). Each county was governed by a military governor and a civilian governor as well as a third official of the same rank, with the task of overseeing the administration of his colleagues. Thus, the foundation was laid for the bureaucratic structure of the centralized empire. It would last for over 2,000 years.

Shi Huangdi's adviser Li Si and influential legalist thinker Han Fei (compare Han Fei Zi) were both highly hostile to learning, which had devastating consequences. With a view to preventing the intellectual opposition from "taking advantage of the past to criticize the present," the emperor left 213 BC. burn all books in the kingdom with the exception of some useful manuals on agriculture and divination. However, the first emperor's expensive public companies had undermined the kingdom's finances. A few years after his death, mutiny broke out among troops in the Chang Jiang Valley. This culminated in a peasant uprising, the first in a long line of popular uprisings that came to mark turning points in the history of the empire.

Hand dynasty: Western Han (206 BC - 9 AD)

The rebel leader Liu Bang made himself 206 BC to the king of Han. Four years later, he defeated the Emperor under the regency name of Gaozu. With the exception of Wang Mang's interregnum 9-23 AD. the power remained in the hands of the Lius family for four centuries. The interregnum shares the Han period in the Western Han, with the capital of Chang'an (now Xi'an), and the Eastern Han, with the capital of Luoyang. The rooster is often portrayed as a time of great power and a role model for later dynasties. Its first ruler further built on the foundation laid by Shi Huangdi, but also created many of the political, economic and social institutions that characterized the continued evolution of the empire.

The centralized empire allowed for outstanding political, economic and territorial expansion. However, the central power eventually came to be undermined by political factions, palace intrigues and corruption. The abolition of the hereditary aristocracy under Qin created a void in the social hierarchy. The first Hankeys reintroduced to a limited extent a feudal order. Already during the reign of Gaozu (202-195 BC) a new class of large landlords arose, recruited among the emperor's former aides. The rapid growth of large estates, which used formerly free peasants as agricultural workers, created major social problems.

Western Han reached its greatest extent during Emperor Wu (140-87 BC). Foreign policy was partly due to problems with the northern nomads and partly to trade policy interests. Already sources from early Zhoutid speak of powerful nomadic tribes that threatened the country's northern and northwest border. These strains were named from Qintiden Xiongnu (compare females). In his quest to ward off the threat from them, Emperor Wu sent 138 BC. an embassy to Central Asia to seek allies in the fight against the heirloom. A young Chinese ruler succeeded 121 BC expel the nomads from the northwest of the present Gansu.

Through the so-called Silk Road, which stretched from the Gansu corridor and through the Tarimba basin, Pamir, Samarkand, Iran, Iraq and Syria reached the Mediterranean, the Hanveld was able to establish an enriching trade with the Unask Kingdoms in Central Asia, some of which were also annexed. At the same time, the Emperor Wu recaptured the areas south of Chang Jiang that had become independent after the fall of the Qin Empire. The military campaigns, which were followed by colonization of the conquered areas as well as huge road and water constructions, undermined the kingdom's finances. The emperor's economic policy included increased taxes, confiscation of land goods, state monopoly on salt and iron, and sale of offices at high prices.

A state academy for the study of the Confucian texts was established 136 BC on Emperor Wu's initiative; a few years later, a degree system was introduced based on the knowledge of these texts. Thus, the foundation was laid for the state diploma system, which came to play a major role in the recruitment of civil servants throughout the history of the empire. However, the Confucian monopoly on spiritual cultivation did not prevent the emperor from basing his power on the same legalistic theories that underpinned the Qin Empire.

During Hantiden, Confucian doctrine merged with cosmological notions of the forces of yin and yang as well as "The Five Phases" (wood, fire, earth, metal and water), with the help of which they considered themselves able to catalog and explain all the phenomena in heaven, earth and man. worlds (compare cosmology). In Hank Confucianism's notion of the Holy Trinity Heaven-Earth-Man, the prince, the foremost representative of Man, emerged as a god's like.

Wang Mang's Interregnum (9-23 AD)

Under Emperor Wu's successor on the throne, factions of officials and eunuchs fought for influence at the court. During Western His last emperor, the widow empress's family succeeded in regaining power. The most prominent member of the family, and consequently the new emperor, was Wang Mang, a man who had reached a high position of power already at a young age. His government has given rise to widely differing assessments; Wang Mang himself has been described as a revolutionary socialist, backward striker, idealistic dreamer and the madman intriguing.

Wang Mang's radical reform program included the abolition of all noble privileges, the nationalization of all gold in the kingdom, the introduction of a new coinage system (which led to a drastic devaluation), the ban on the sale of land and the establishment of a monopoly on, among other things. mining, coin stamping and wine making. He also set up state banks, which lent money at three per cent interest.

A few years before Wang Mang's accession to the throne, Huang He had swam across its boards south of the Shandong Peninsula. Year 11 AD a second flood occurred, affecting the area north of Shandong. The subsequent severe famine created great social unrest. Wang Mang was now employed by both the rebellion movement "The Red Eyebrows" and members of the overthrown Liuklan. After ten years of fighting, a prince of the Liuklan succeeded in overthrowing Wang Mang and regaining the imperial power under the name Guangwu Di (reigned 25-57 AD).

Hand dynasty: Östra Han (25-220)

During the first half of the Eastern Han, successful emperors succeeded in strengthening the kingdom's economy and regaining control of the Central Asian oasis kingdoms. However, factional battles at the court and widespread corruption led to a weakening of central power. The severe tax burden, which mainly affected the small farmers, caused a new large peasant uprising in 184 AD, including led by the movement "The yellow turbans". The insurgents were fought by independent warlords with private army troops. After more than three decades of fighting, the Han Empire collapsed.

Sanguo ('The Three Kingdoms', 220-280)

China was now divided into three kingdoms: Wei in the north, Shu-Han in the southwest and Wu in the south. This split is a school example of how industrial geographical factors can influence political development. The district included the economic key area of the Huang Hes valley; Shu-Han included Sichuan, whose agriculture had been fostered by the Qin Emperor's irrigation facilities, as well as parts of Yunnan and Guizhou; Wu covered the fertile area around Chang Jiang's lower race.

The portrayal of this time in the 15th-century novel "Sanguozhi yanyi" ('Stories of the Three Kingdoms') has made the era better known by common man in China than most other historical stages. The battles between the three rivals for power had devastating consequences: a census of 140 AD estimates China's population at 48 million; according to a census 280 AD the population was only 16 million.

Jind dynasty and Nanbeichao ('Southern and Northern Dynasties', 265-589)

In 265, a warlord conquered the Wei Kingdom of Shu-Han. The following year he deposed the Wei Emperor and proclaimed himself Emperor of Jin (266-316). The third kingdom, Wu, which ruled the middle and lower Chang Jiang Valley as well as the current Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and northern Vietnam, remained independent until 280, when it was incorporated with the Jinri Kingdom. At the same time as the Jind dynasty secured its power over central and southern China, foreign tribes invaded the north. These included the Tibetan qiang tribe as well as the Xiongnu people who had since resided in Hantiden south of the "long wall".

In the early 300s, the Xiongnu rulers succeeded in subduing all land north of Chang Jiang. In 317, the Jind Dynasty ruler house was forced to flee to the Lower Chang Jiang Valley, where they established Jiankang (now Nanjing) as the capital of what was called the Eastern Jind Dynasty (317-420). Thus began the period which has been called "The Six Dynasties", after the successive rulers' offices in Nanjing until 589. The epoch was characterized by political and military weakness; at the same time, it was one of the most creative and culturally high stages in China's history.

In northern China, Xiongnu, Tibetan tanguts and various Altaic tribes fought for power. In 386, the chief of the Altaic Tuoba tribe founded a dynasty called Northern Wei(386-534). It had 439 united kingdoms in the north. The Tuoba Empire was held together with the help of Chinese officials and the traditional management system; the ancient capital Luoyang was restored in 495. Magnificent cave temples in Yungang in northern Shanxi and Longmen, south of Luoyang, testify to the Tuobah rulers' pious interest in Buddhism. Their kingdom, however, was weakened by internal divisions, military rebellions and peasant rebellions, again caused by high taxes. In 581, the Tongan warlord Yang Jian was proclaimed emperor of the South Dynasty; already 589 he had succeeded in reuniting all the Chinese kingdoms. Thus ended the epoch, which has been called Nanbeichao ('The Southern and Northern Dynasties').

Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907)

The South Dynasty, in many respects a parallel to the Qind Dynasty, created the conditions for the political and economic expansion of the Tang world. With great ideological flexibility, which allowed the Confucian ritual to be combined with legalistic rule of law and Buddhist piety, Emperor Yang Jian built up a management system that served as the role model for the Tang Dynasty. This included a censorate, a supervisory authority, which would last throughout the empire. Yang Jian sought to bridge the economic and cultural divide between the North and the South. The second Suike emperor completed a very canal construction, linking the northern capital Luoyang with Hangzhou, south of Chang Jiang. As part of the Emperor's plans for annexation of Korea, the channel was later extended to the vicinity of Beijing. The costly campaigns against Korea 611-614 ruined the country. The situation was aggravated by a severe flood in Hebei and an eastern Turkish invasion of northern China. Li Yuan, the military governor of Shanxi, akin to both the Suihuset and the Turkish invaders, defeated the rebellion in the north and proclaimed 618 as Emperor of the Tang Dynasty.

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) was characterized by an unprecedented material well-being and an exceptional spiritual and cultural vitality. The main reasons for this were the prejudiced attitude of the early Tang emperors to inherited culture and their cosmopolitan openness to various foreign influences. The capital of Chang'an, the world's largest city, became the center of civilization in East Asia.

As emperor, Li Yuan (who ruled 618-626) and his son and successor Li Shimin (who ruled 626-649) created a system of administration that would last until the fall of the empire in 1912. Under the emperor, three bodies (the Office, the Secretariat, and the Ministry of State) sorted together they constituted the central government. The State Department supervised the six ministries of civil administration, finance, ritual, war, justice and public works.

Under Tang, a gradual transition from an aristocratic government, based on hereditary office, took place to a bureaucratic system, which meant that the recruitment of civil servants was based mainly on state degrees. In 624 a law collection was published, which remained in effect until the 1300s. In 638, Confucian doctrine was consolidated as official state ideology. From the mid-600s, China had full control over the oasis states in Central Asia. Chinese imports of luxury goods eventually contributed to undermining the country's economy.

After Li Shimin's death, widow Empress Wu Zetian succeeded in regaining power. During her long reign (655-705), she managed to hold together the empire that Li Shimin had created. In 657, she made Luoyang the second capital of the kingdom, which meant that the northwestern aristocrat families in Chang'an lost their influence.

During Emperor Xuanzong (712-756), the Tang empire reached its fullest flowering. The state's tax revenue was increased through extensive registration of taxable citizens. The canal system, which had fallen into disrepair, was put in place, and the grain settlers in the south were able to support Chang'an, which had now become the only capital, and the border armies in the north.

At the beginning of Xuanzong's government, the Turkish princes in Central Asia acknowledged China's supremacy. From the end of the 740s, Tibetans and Arabs became China's most dangerous rivals for power in Central and West Asia. In 751, Chinese troops suffered a stinging defeat against Arab opponents. Through the battle of the Talas River, between Syrian Darja and Lake Balchas, China was deprived of dominion over West Asia and the rich oasis states of the Tarimba basin.

In the year 751, China was hit by yet another disaster: the Khitan tribe, which had its settlements on the Sungari River in Manchuria, invaded China. After an unsuccessful attempt to stop the invasion, the 755 military governor An Lushan marched towards Luoyang and in a few months managed to subdue all of eastern China. Emperor Xuanzong fled to Sichuan and was forced to abdicate in favor of his son Suzong (756-762), who managed to defeat the uprising with the help of Uighur troops. An Lushan's rebellion was the beginning of the end of the Tang Dynasty.

During the first half of the Tang Dynasty, the Buddhists had acquired a unique economic power. In the years 843-845, a comprehensive secularization of Buddhist property was carried out: 40,000 monasteries were closed, 260,000 monks and nuns were forced to return to worldly life, Buddhist earthquakes were withdrawn into the state and sold.

Song Dynasty (960-1279)

In the fall of the Tang Empire, half a century of political division followed, The Five Dynasties (907-960). The thirteen rulers of these dynasties can be compared to the robber barons who ravaged Europe at the same time since the empire of Charlemagne had broken down.

General Zhao Kuangyin, who served during the last of the Five Dynasties, was ordered 960 to ward off an expected invasion of Khitanian troops. Instead, he chose to overthrow the dynasty and proclaim himself emperor of Song (Taizu, 960-976). The warlord was quickly transformed into a Confucian ideal ruler. His former counterparts in the armed forces were disarmed with sounding arguments. A drastic cut in the armed forces and the transition to civilian government reduced government spending. Taizu's successor to the throne, Taizong (976-997) and Zhenzong (998-1022), tried in vain to hold the Khitans to the bar, but found that a well-paid tribute outweighed the weakened armed forces. In 1005, a peace treaty was signed, according to which Song was forced to pay an annual tribute amounting to 100,000 ounces of gold and 200,000 bales of silk.

The harsh economic situation led to a severe conflict between conservative and radical officials at the court. Radical Falang leader Wang Anshi attempted in 1069-85 to implement a far-reaching reform program, called "The New Laws", whose purpose was to improve the material conditions of farmers. In doing so, he intended to increase agricultural production, stabilize finances and strengthen the country's armed forces. The reforms included government loans to small farmers at low interest rates, a progressive tax on income and wealth, price control on land and government trading activities with price-equalizing function. The reforms, which had a distinct socialist character, aroused dissatisfaction with the conservative officials, who also partially succeeded in sabotaging their implementation (1085-93).

During the reign of Emperor Huizong (1101-26), both the domestic and foreign policy situation worsened. The power struggle at the court led to nepotism and corruption, and the reform program led to increased bureaucracy. The trade routes to West Asia were blocked by the tangential Xixia empire. In the north, the Khitan tribes had already established in 937 a mighty kingdom, Liao. In the northeast, the 1115 chief of the Tongan Jurassic tribe proclaimed Emperor of the Dynasty Jin. In the hope of being able to subvert the Lia Empire, Huizong entered into an alliance with Jin. When the Liao empire was crushed, Jin turned to his ally. During the years 1126-27, the Jintroups entered the capital Kaifeng. The emperor and most members of his family were imprisoned and died in captivity.

One of Huizong's sons managed to escape to South China, where he established himself as the first emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), with capital first in Nanjing and then in Lin'an (now Hangzhou). The struggle between the Conservatives and the radical officials did not end with the flight to South China. Another issue that divided the court was whether one should seek to regain the lost areas of the north or settle for a purchased peace. Emperor Ningzong (1195-1224) again tried the war. The war, which ended in defeat for the Song Forces, clearly showed that the people of Northern China had accepted the foreign rule.

The Mongol Empire and the Yuand Dynasty (1271-1368)

Towards the end of the 1100s, the Khitanian Karakhite Empire ruled the area from Amu-Darja (Oxus) to the Ilid Valley and included the former oasis states of Samarkand, Fergana, Kaxgar, Jarkand (Yarkant) and Khotan. The Turkish Uighurs, who obeyed Karakhitai, inhabited the area around Turpan. South of Lake Baikal, the Nestorian Christian Kereites had their settlements. Between the upper Altaj and the upper course of the Orchon River lay the Mongolian Naiman Empire. Northeast Tibet and Gansu were ruled by the Tangutian Xixia Empire. In China, Chang Jiang formed the border between the southern Song Kingdom and the Jurassic Empire, Jin, in the north.

In 1188, the young Mongol chief Djingi's khan had gathered under him Mongolian tribes whose pasture lands lay south of Lake Baikal. After succumbing to the rule of the Kereites, in 1206 he was elected leader of the united Mongol tribes. With the help of his equestrian troops, he and his successors managed to create the greatest empire the world has ever seen in a few decades.

From the beginning, Djingi's khan's conquest policy was geared towards the Jin Empire. Many Chinese and Khitans who were dissatisfied with the Jin regime joined forces with the Mongols, who fell into China in 1211. The Jinhovet was forced to move from its capital Zhongdu, which was adjacent to present Beijing, to Kaifeng in Henan, which fell in 1233. Khubilai khan, who elected as the highest leader of the Mongols in 1260, in 1264 his residence moved from Mongolia to the ancient capital of the Jin Empire in the north, now called Khanbaliq, the city of Khan. Thus, the first step was taken towards the conquest of the Song Kingdom. The dynasty name Yuan was adopted in 1271. Many Chinese field lords went over to the Mongols, and the Chinese big landowners willingly cooperated with the conquerors. Song capital Lin'an capitulated in 1276.

The Mongols administration followed the Chinese pattern. The Caesarean canal was stopped. Paper banknotes, which had been in use already during Song and Jin, now completely replaced copper coins. The state diploma system was temporarily abolished. This was possibly one of the reasons why many intellectuals were now devoted to writing dramas and novels in the simple spoken language, which served as one of the official writing languages of the Mongol Empire.

The Mongol rulers' attitude to foreign religions was characterized by great tolerance. Both Daoism, Lamaism and Buddhism flourished, and even Nestorianism won many followers among the Turkish and Mongolian residents of the empire. The Islamization of Central Asia also left strong traces in northwestern and western China.

Although the Mongol rulers tried to ward off assimilation with the subjugated Chinese, after a few generations they lost their ethnic identity. Like so many times before, a severe flood of Huang He 1351 led to social unrest. An insurgency movement ("The Red Turbans") spread rapidly from Henan to neighboring provinces. A few years later, Zhu Yuanzhang, a rebel in the Chang Jiang Valley, joined the insurgency movement and soon took command of the unified forces. In 1367, his crowds ruled the whole of South China. The capital of Khanbaliq fell in 1368. The same year, Zhu Yuanzhang proclaimed the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, with the capital of Nanjing.

Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Since the Western Hand Dynasty, the governments of the emperors have been divided into periods of different names. From the Ming Dynasty, the emperor, with one exception, adopted a single name during his reign: Hongwuthus denotes the first Mingke emperor's reign (1368-99). The first Mingke emperors chose Nanjing as their capital. The improvement of the communication routes, especially the waterways, led to a balance between the economic key areas in the north and south. All foreign influences were fought, and domestic political, social and cultural traditions were set in the forefront. Confucianism's position was consolidated, and the state diploma system was greatly expanded. The higher education was promoted by state universities in Nanjing and Beijing. Foreign religions were persecuted, and Lamaism lost all influence.

The Emperor of the Yongle Period (1403-25), the Ming period's greatest builder, chose Beijing as its capital (1421). Many of the monumental buildings in Beijing date from the Yongle period or are reconstructions of buildings of that era.

In early Ming the empire expanded to the north and south. Among other things, temporarily conquered large parts of present Vietnam. China, on the other hand, resigned its Central Asian holdings, which greatly worsened foreign trade. It was probably one of the reasons for the lavish sea expeditions undertaken under the leadership of the eunuch Zheng He during the first three decades of the 1400s. Until 1431, seven expeditions were sent, visiting Java, Sumatra, Ceylon, India, Arabia and Africa. For unknown reasons, these expeditions ceased as suddenly as they had begun. The once-powerful fleet expired.

During the 16th century, China suffered many humiliations. Japanese pirates ravaged along the coasts. The Tibetans renounce Chinese supremacy. As early as 1514, the Portuguese arrived on the south coast of China, and in 1557 they set up a trading station in Macao. They were followed by the Spaniards, who were favored by the Spanish conquest of the Philippines in 1565. During the first half of the 17th century, Dutch and British trading houses established contacts with China. The early Mingkeys suppressed the Christian mission; However, in 1601 the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci was allowed to settle in the capital, where his eminent scientific knowledge was utilized by the court.

The Ming empire was weakened by the power struggle between the Confucian bureaucrats and the eunuchs at the court, who had secured high positions in the administration. Land grants for courtiers and imperial princes worsened the economic situation. The Manchu tribes in northeastern China refused to acknowledge Chinese supremacy. As the empire's empire grew in strength, the Ming dynasty was weakened by natural disasters, misgrowth and armed rebellion. After the capital had been taken by rebels, the Manchus, who had been summoned to quell the rebellion, quickly succeeded in becoming lords all over China (1644).

The Great Age of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - c. 1800)

The Manchu rulers chose to exploit the subjugated Chinese political institutions and management systems. The first 150 years of the Qing Dynasty were devoted to thoughtful reconstruction work.

Peace and welfare contributed to a rapid increase in population. Tax relief, new cultivation of land and extensive cultivation of new crops created good conditions for the population. Dynasty founder Shunzhi (1644-62) fortified the dynasty's power. His successor Kangxi (1662-1723) appears as one of the most capable emperors in China's history. He encouraged the study of Western science and received highly educated Catholic missionaries at his court. During his reign, Mongolia, Tibet and Taiwan were incorporated into the Chinese Empire. During the Qianlong government (1736-96), the Xinjiang area was annexed in the northwest. Annam, Siam, Burma, Nepal and Korea acknowledged China's supremacy. While Qianlong encouraged the art, wit and literature, he enforced a strict inquisition. The end of Qianlong's government was characterized by widespread corruption.

During most of the 17th century, the Portuguese dominated trade in Guangzhou (Canton). In the early 1680s, the British East India Company opened a trading facility there. During the 18th century, the trade balance was entirely in China's favor. All contacts with foreigners were handled by a merchant guy (hang), which had a monopoly on the Guangzhou trade. From the late 18th century, the British government made fruitless attempts to negotiate directly with the Chinese authorities. Although Britain's first ambassador to China was received in the audience by the emperor (1793), he failed to fulfill his mission. The next British ambassador, who arrived in Beijing in 1816, did not even succeed in getting the emperor's priority. The friction that resulted from his unsuccessful efforts eventually led to an open conflict between the UK and China, which later came to involve several Western powers and which marked the beginning to the end of the Chinese empire.

Dynasties and reigns for the Ming and Qing dynasties

2000-1500 BC The prehistoric Xiad dynasty
1500- ca 1040 BC Shang Dynasty
ca 1040-256 BC Zhou Dynasty
1040-771 BC Western Zhou
770-256 BC Eastern Zhou
770-403 BC Spring-and-Autumn period
403-221 BC The period of the warring states
221-207 BC Qin Dynasty
206 BC - 9 AD Western Hand Dynasty
9-23 Xindynastine (Wang Mang's interregnum)
25-220 Eastern Hand Dynasty
220-280 The period of the three kingdoms
220-266 Wei
221-263 Shu-Han
222-280 Wu
266-316 Western Jind dynasty
317-420 Eastern Jind Dynasty
420-589 The Southern Dynasties
420-479 Liu Song Dynasty
479-502 Qidynastin
502-557 Liang Dynasty
557-589 Chen Dynasty
386-581 The Northern Dynasties
386-535 Northern Weid dynasty
535-557 Western Weid dynasty
534-550 Eastern Weid dynasty
550-577 Northern Qidynastine
557-581 AD Northern Zhoudynastin
581-618 Sui Dynasty
618-907 Tang Dynasty
907-960 The Five Dynasties
907-923 Later Liang Dynasty
923-936 Later the Tang Dynasty
936-947 Later Jind dynasty
947-951 Later the Hand Dynasty
951-960 Later Zhoudynastin
960-1279 Song Dynasty
960-1127 Northern Song
1127-1279 Southern Song
916-1234 Nomad dynasties in Northern China
916-1125 Liao (Khitans)
1125-1211 Western Liao (Karachitans)
1038-1227 Xi Xia (tanguter)
1115-1234 Jin (tongues)
1271-1368 yuan Dynasty
1368-1644 Ming Dynasty
1368-99 Hongwu
1399-1403 Jianwen
1403-25 Yongle
1425-26 Hongxi
1426-36 Xuande
1436-50 Zhengtong
1450-57 Jingtai
1457-65 Tianshun
1465-88 Chenghua
1488-1506 Hongzhi
1506-22 Zhengde
1522-67 Jiajing
1567-73 Longqing
1573-1620 Wanli
1620-21 Taichang
1621-28 Tianqi
1628-44 Chongzhen
1644-1912 Qing Dynasty
1644-62 Shunzhi
1662-1723 Kangxi
1723-36 Yongzheng
1736-96 Qianlong
1796-1821 Jiaqing
1821-51 Daoguang
1851-62 Xianfeng
1862-75 Tongzhi
1875-1909 Guangxu
1909-12 Xuantong

Various dates of dynasties and reigns may occur, including: depending on whether you choose to follow the old Chinese calendar or the current Western one. According to the general rule, an emperor's reign is counted from the turn of the year following his ascension. The new Chinese calendar's New Year begins a bit into January (or February) according to Western times. The above table is based on the Western calendar, which means that the reigns are often extended to the year following the death of an emperor.

The war that opened China

The contradictions between Britain, which sought new markets for its products and demanded diplomatic equality, and China, which wanted to continue its isolationist policy and demanded that other states behave as subordinate tribute states, eventually led to an armed conflict, the opium war (1839-42), which can be regarded as an introduction to China's modern history. It was the first of a series of wars that gradually forced China not only to change its view of relations with other countries, but also to rethink its entire social system. The background to the opium war was that the British, in order to finance their imports of tea, silk, china, etc. since the end of the 18th century, began to sell opium to China. This trade increased dramatically in the 19th century and led to major economic and social problems for China. Emperor Daoguang therefore instructed General Governor Lin Zexu to take steps to stop this illegal trade. Lin forced the foreigners in Guangzhou in 1839 to hand over all the opium they had in stock, after which he had it destroyed. In response to this, the British attacked China the following year, which after two years of fighting was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. quit Hong Kong, pay war damages and open five ports for trade, besides Guangzhou also Xiamen (Amoy), Fuzhou, Ningbo and Shanghai. In a supplementary treaty the following year, it was also stipulated that Britons were allowed to lease certain areas in the opened port cities. These areas, the so-called concessions, gradually developed into islands of Chinese society in which the foreigners themselves ruled. The British also gained exterritoriality, i.e.. right to be judged by the laws of their own country and not by Chinese. Furthermore, a most favored nation clause automatically guaranteed them all rights that citizens of other states could acquire in the future through treaties with China. A number of states soon followed and acquired the rights granted to the British by the Treaties, including Sweden in 1847.

The opium war was followed by more wars, which similarly forced China to leave the country, open more ports, pay war damages and grant foreigners rights or privileges that Chinese citizens did not enjoy. In 1856 a ship, Arrow, was boarded by Chinese police in search of pirates. The vessel, owned by a Chinese, had previously sailed under the British flag, but the license for this had expired when the incident occurred. Despite this, the intermezzo was used by the United Kingdom as a pretext to start a new war, the Arrow War (1856-60), also called the Second Opium War. In this, France also came to participate after a French missionary was executed in Guangxi. After China was attacked by the two states, treaties were concluded in Tianjin in 1858, which was followed by a few others in Beijing in 1860. pay war damages, open additional places for trade and exit countries. Even Russia, which while the war was going on took the opportunity to advance its positions in northeastern China, was now given a large area north of Heilong Jiang (Amur) and east of Ussuri for its role as a "mediator". The treaties also led foreign diplomats to be stationed in Beijing, missionaries were allowed to spread their message even in the inner parts of China and that merchants were allowed to sell opium in Chinese ports. Two more wars in the 19th century helped weaken China's position: the Sino-French War of 1883-85 and the The treaties also led foreign diplomats to be stationed in Beijing, missionaries were allowed to spread their message even in the inner parts of China and that merchants were allowed to sell opium in Chinese ports. A further two wars in the 19th century contributed to weakening China's position: the Sino-French War of 1883-85 and the Sino-Japanese War 1894-95. By the first, China lost its former tribute state to Annam and, by the latter, its supremacy in Korea; In addition, Taiwan, which was to become Japanese until 1945, was lost. After the Sino-Japanese war, foreign demands in the coming years followed foreign demands to build railways in China and to lease fleet bases, etc., which were also met. The country tended to be divided into different foreign interests.

The big uprisings

At the same time as China was subjected to increasing pressure from the outside, the internal problems worsened during the 19th century. The large outflow of silver as a result of the opium trade led to a substantial increase in farmers' taxes due to the value of silver in relation to the copper rise. When the peasants sold their products for copper but their taxes were paid in silver, they were hit hard. This, combined with increased population pressure, corruption among the governing and natural disasters, led to riots erupting around the middle of the 19th century. The largest, the Taipu revolt (1850-64), began in Guangxi in southern China, where Hong Xiuquan, who preached a Christian doctrine mixed with traditional Chinese ideas, in 1851 proclaimed the Heavenly Kingdom of the Great Peace (Taiping tianguo). The Taiping rebels soon advanced north toward China's richest area around Chang Jiang, where in 1853 they made Nanjing their capital. However, they did not succeed in conquering northern China, and internal disintegration eventually contributed to the rebellion in 1864. Another rebellion, Nian (1853-68), which had its center further north at Huai He, also faced difficulties in the dynasty. Alongside these two, there were also other uprisings, where conflicts between the majority people in China, the Han Chinese, and various minorities, mainly Muslims, were an important trigger. In Yunnan, in 1855, riots erupted, leading to a Muslim, Du Wenxiu, in 1863 creating a new state with Dali as its center. The Rebels lasted until 1873, when Dali fell and Du was executed. In the same year another Muslim uprising, which had been going on since 1862 in Shaanxi and Gansu, was also crushed

Unlike the aforementioned insurgency, it was the foreign infiltration in China and the xenophobia that this caused was the main cause of the so-called boxer uprising. Occasional actions by boxers took place in 1898, and the uprising culminated in 1900. The rebellious attacks mainly killed active Christians, both missionaries and Chinese converts, and in the summer of 1900 they also besieged the foreign legation quarters in Beijing. The siege was claimed after foreign troops were sent to Beijing to rescue the trapped. After foreign revenge campaigns in various cities where the uprising emerged, in 1901 a protocol was signed, according to which China, among other things. would pay a large damages. Foreign troops were now allowed to be stationed in Beijing, and Chinese arms imports were banned two years ahead.

Chinese rulers

Since the imperial troops in the mid-1800s were unable to suppress the rebellions that erupted, three high-ranking Chinese officials, Zeng Guofan, Zuo Zongtang and Li Hongzhang, were instead commissioned to use their own newly formed armies. crush the great rebels. Through their military, political and, especially in Li's case, economic strength, they came to contribute to strengthening regional power at the expense of the central. Li was behind many of the weapons factories, yards, mines, etc. that have been created since it was realized in China that the country must begin to industrialize if it could assert itself against the western country. It was also Li who eventually got to represent China in negotiations with the Western powers and Japan.

But he was not the only one who maintained contacts with abroad. In Beijing, in 1861, there was a foreign ministry, called Zongli yamen, established under the direction of Gong Qinwang (Prince Gong). This year, along with the newly-widowed Empress Cixi, he had carried out a coup which made them the most powerful of the court. The prince's position was later weakened, but Cixi remained the dominant figure at court until his death in 1908. Her own son, Emperor Tongzhi, died young and never had any threat to her power, but when the next Emperor Guangxu, like Cixi added, became an adult and wanted to try to reform the empire in 1898, she demonstrated his power and locked him in for life. Guangxi's reform efforts were inspired by Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao and others. younger intellectuals who, after the defeat of Japan in 1895, became the leading advocates of reform of Chinese society. However, despite his reluctance for changes that could undermine the position of the Manchus, Cixi was also forced to accept that some reforms were implemented in the years following the turn of the century. But it was too late, and when after her and Guangxi's death in 1908 another child emperor, Puyi (Xuantong), ascended the throne, the days of the empire were counted. Now, oppositionists not only demanded that it be reformed but that the Republic be introduced. A soldier's revolt in Wuchang on October 10, 1911, was quickly responded to throughout the country, and in February 1912 the emperor was formally forced to resign.

The Republic of China is founded

Elections to a newly formed parliament were finalized in early 1913, and in it the newly formed Nationalist Party (Guomindang, GMD), whose members with the Sun Yat-sen at the forefront were the driving forces of the Republican movement, won the majority of votes. But the country's strong man was the military Yuan Shikai, who became president in March 1912, since the Sun temporarily held the post for just over two months. However, Yuan soon showed that his intention was not to consolidate the republic but to make himself emperor. He met strong resistance and died in 1916 without having succeeded in realizing his plans. During his time in power, he was forced to give Outer Mongolia and Tibet autonomy, which in practice meant that they became independent in relation to China. He also took out a major reorganization loan from Western banks, a loan granted on the condition that the Western powers gained control over how the Chinese government finances were managed. This further strengthened the Western influence of the Chinese administration. Earlier, the Chinese Maritime Customs, whose business area also included mail, ports, map drawing, etc., under the British Robert Hart had become a factor of power. In addition to Western influence, the Japanese also gradually increased, especially since the Western powers became occupied elsewhere during the First World War. When Japan made twenty claims for influence in China in 1915, most were accepted by Yuan Shikai. But when Japan was also allowed in Versailles in 1919 to take over Germany's previous possessions in the Shandong province, even though China was a victorious force in the First World War, this led to major patriotic demonstrations in Beijing. The protest movement is called the Fourth of May Movement and was the first in a series of major student movements in China during the 20th century. It gradually gained wide support from the urban population and led to the resignation of three ministers and the fact that China did not sign the Versailles peace treaty.

Cooperation between nationalists and communists

Two leading slogans for the Fourth of May movement were "democracy" and "science", reflecting the increased interest in Western society and culture that has now emerged. An important forum for discussions of Western ideas was the journal Xin Qingnian ('The New Youth'), which began to be published in 1915 by Chen Duxiu. Chen, who was a teacher at the University of Beijing for a time, also became the leader of the Communist Party of China (CCP) when it was founded in 1921. His ideological choices indicate the interest in the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union that was now beginning to become evident in China. Even Sun Yat-sen, who was not a Communist but who was increasingly disappointed by the Western powers, now turned to the Soviet Union for support. He was assisted in reorganizing GMD according to the Soviet model and at the same time initiated a cooperation with the CCP. The purpose was to build a political and military force that could be used to overthrow the warlords who, after Yuan's death, controlled various parts of the country and who were in constant feud with each other. The new GMD, which also contained Communists - the latter could have dual membership - held its first congress in 1924, and the same year a military academy was set up in Huangpu (Whampoa) at Guangzhou to school an army capable of defeating the warlords. Chief of this was Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi), who recently returned after a period of education in the Soviet Union.

Break between nationalists and communists

However, there were already obvious contradictions within the coalition between GMD and the CCP. After Chiang in 1927 had a number of communists murdered in Shanghai, there was a break between the two parties. Chiang had such a strong position at that time that he could move on without the CCP's help, and the following year he set up a national government in Nanjing, after several powerful warlords joined him. However, reforming and modernizing the country was no easy task. The state's finances were weak, and a large part of the expenditure went to military purposes. The warlords were not completely loyal to Chiang, and there were battles between them and him even after 1928. In addition, there were two more threats that he sooner or later had to deal with. The first came from the Communists, the second from the Japanese.

It was the struggle against the Communists that Chiang saw as his main task. After the break in 1927, the Communists, faithful to the Russian example, had made some attempts to take cities; The uprising in Nanchang on August 1, 1927, which is regarded as the day of creation of the People's Liberation Army, is the best known. However, after a few failures, the CCP built up revolutionary bases in the countryside. Mao Zedong had done this as early as 1927, convinced that he had become peasants as the backbone of the Chinese Communist revolution. In the early 1930s, Mao and the Communist leadership were located in Jiangxi Province, where they had established an area of council rule following a Russian model. But although Mao devised a guerrilla tactic that proved successful, it was not his line that gradually became dominant when the Communists were subjected to one attack after another from Chiang's troops. Instead, they relied on the Comintern agent Otto Braun and the Russian-oriented Chinese in the party's leadership on a less flexible warfare, which made their position unsustainable. In October 1934, the "Red Army", as it was called, was forced to leave Jiangxi and embark on a journey of over a thousand miles, the "long march", which brought it up to Shaanxi Province, where the CCP then established a new headquarters in Yan'an. Of the 86,000 people who left, almost 4,000 remained at the arrival in October 1935. The rest had died in the many battles they fought along the way, submerged in the inhospitable terrain that made their way through, or left the army. During the march, Mao laid the foundation for his position as the party's leading man. However, the fact that the Communists managed to get to Shaanxi did not mean that their position was secure. Chiang still intended to destroy them, but he was now subjected to increasing pressure from elsewhere, which came to favor the CCP.

The Japanese intrusion

In 1931, Japan had attacked northeastern China, and the following year a sounding state named Manchukuo (Manchuria) was established, where the last Emperor Puyi served as a puppet regent. However, Chiang Kai-shek remained passive and ordered not to take any action against the Japanese. He put the fight against the CCP primarily and wanted to wait to deal with Japan until he had built up a stronger military force. However, the Japanese were not satisfied with what they had already conquered, but continued to occupy areas in northern China. Chiang's inaction led to more and more protests: students demonstrated and even his own generals began to question his policies and advocated that he form an alliance with the CCP against Japan. When Chiang refused, he was captured by two of his generals - the event known as the Xi'an incident - and was only released when he agreed to a collaboration with the CCP. Although this did not work smoothly, GMD and the CCP focused efforts on fighting Japan, which in 1937 invaded China on a full scale. Despite the cooperation, at the end of 1937, Chiang was forced to move the capital inland to Chongqing, which remained the capital until the end of the war.

Japan sought to secure its influence over China with the help of puppet regimes such as Manchuria. The most prominent of these was led by Nanjing by former second officer of GMD Wang Jingwei. Most of eastern China, which was the most developed area, was now under Japanese control. But because of the Chinese resistance, Japan was forced to tie away half of its military forces in China, which was significantly more than expected. The opposition came partly from Chiang Kai-shek's forces based in the interior, mainly in the southwestern parts, and partly from the communists, who mainly lived in the northwestern parts with Yan'an as the base. The collaboration between GMD and the CCP became increasingly conflicting and from 1941, when the GMD destroyed parts of a CCP force, it was further weakened.

Chiang tried to prevent the CCP from strengthening its position during the war but failed, while confidence in his own regime gradually weakened. When Japan surrendered in 1945 and the war ended, Chiang was still the one with the greatest military resources, but it would not be enough for the CCP to invest more in mobilizing the people for their cause.

Civil War and Communist Victory

When Japan surrendered at the end of the Second World War, negotiations between GMD and the CCP began to form a coalition government. But disbelief between the two parties was too great, and it soon became clear that a peaceful solution was impossible. In 1946, the Civil War broke out again. On paper, GMD was the stronger party with a military apparatus that numerically and in terms of equipment was clearly superior to that of the CCP. But by this time, confidence in Chiang's rule was on the pour. Violent inflation ravaged, corruption and nepotism among the governing were widespread, and the large mass of Chinese, peasants, Chiang had failed to win with his politics. Instead, the CCP became more and more people hoped. Therefore, despite its apparently poor starting position, the CCP succeeded, after three decisive blows at the end of 1948 and in early 1949, to acquire the upper hand that made it possible to defeat Chiang. He, along with his followers, took refuge in the island of Taiwan, where he continued as a leader of the "Republic of China" claiming to be China's legitimate ruler. For a long time, his government also represented China at the UN, but in 1971 its place was taken by the People's Republic of China.

People's Republic - the socialist transformation of the country

The People's Republic was formally proclaimed October 1, 1949 in Beijing, which again became the capital. The CCP then ruled most of the country, but some areas, such as Hainan and Tibet, were first conquered in 1950 and 1950-51, respectively. Tibet thus came back under Chinese control. After conquering power, the Communists first focused on getting production started and stopping inflation, which they succeeded with. A land reform, during which many landlords were executed, was also soon implemented. Subsequently, in the next few years, several political campaigns followed. against "counter-revolutionaries" and against corruption in the state administration and business.

Foreign policy already came into conflict with the then US-dominated UN through the involvement in the Korean War 1950. As UN troops approached the Chinese border, Chinese troops attacked and thereby became involved in a war that lasted until 1953. China was stamped as an attacker and became increasingly isolated in the world community. From now on, relations with the United States were characterized by mutual hostility. Instead, it became the Soviet Union that in the 1950s became China's most important ally and donor. The Soviet Union became a role model in many areas, and it was also after the Soviet pattern that China from 1953 began with five-year plans. Already during the first five-year plan, the socialization of society was pushed through. In 1956, far earlier than the Communists previously declared,

New political campaigns

In this situation, the party launched a campaign, "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools debate!", Calling for criticism of shortcomings in the new society. When the criticism became too strong, the party in 1957 instead launched an "anti-right campaign", in which half a million of those who criticized it were now designated as "right-wing elements", a pariah stamp that they were allowed to wear about twenty years ahead. in time. Many intellectuals were the victims of this campaign.

The following year started a new campaign, the "big leap", which came to have disastrous repercussions in society. In his eagerness to capture the outside world and further transform Chinese society in a socialist direction, Mao, with the support of many others at the party summit, launched this campaign. With the enthusiasm and political awareness of the masses, both agriculture and industry would make a great leap forward, a leap that would be facilitated by the formation of large entities, people's communities, and by an ever-increasing subordination of the individual to the collective. The result was instead that agriculture was neglected and that much of the iron and steel you invested in producing turned out to be inferior. Combined with three years of growth in 1959-61, this led to perhaps twenty million people or more dying of starvation.

Although Mao was eventually forced to admit some mistakes, he continued to pursue a line that emphasized socialist purity and which claimed that there were opportunities to do great work if they harnessed the enthusiasm of the masses and their political consciousness. Examples of what could be achieved were Mao in the Dazhai agricultural brigade and the Daqing oil field, which were launched in 1964 as role models in agriculture and industry respectively. The year before, Mao had found another role model in Lei Feng, a soldier who embodied selflessness, sacrifice and blind loyalty to the party. That the model Lei was a soldier was no coincidence, because since Peng Dehuai was replaced by Lin Biao as Minister of Defense in 1959, the People's Liberation Army had become increasingly supportive of Mao.

On Lin's initiative, 1964 "Mao's Little Red" was compiled, a book with quotes by Mao that was widely circulated as a study material and as a revolutionary symbol. But after the failure of the big leap, it was also clear that there were shared opinions in the party about how best to promote the socialist development of Chinese society.

Many in the party with President Liu Shaoqi and Secretary General Deng Xiaoping in the lead wanted to invest less on mass campaigns and more on material incentives and private initiatives in the work, which was now applied in agriculture and which led to a recovery after the Great Leap and Emergency years. Deng's famous statement from this time that "it doesn't matter what color the cat has, only it can catch mice" also shows that he felt that the red color, ie. political purity was less essential than knowledge and efficiency.

Heads of State from 1912

Presidents of the Republic of China
1912 Sun Yat-sen (Provisional President)
1912-16 Yuan Shikai
1916-17 Li Yuanhong
1917-18 Feng Guozhang
1918-22 Xu Shichang
1922-23 Li Yuanhong
1923-24 Cao Kun
1924-48 (Presidential office abolished)
1948-49 Chiang Kai-shek
1949 Li Zongren
Presidents of the People's Republic of China
1954-59 Mao Zedong
1959-68 Liu Shaoqi
1968-75 (Vacant)
1975-82 (Presidential office abolished)
1983-88 Li Xiannian
1988-93 Yang Shangkun
1993-2003 Jiang Zemin
2003-13 Hu Jintao
2013 Xi Jinping

Prime Ministers of the People's Republic of China

1949-76 Zhou Enlai
1976-80 Hua Guofeng
1980-87 Zhao Ziyang
1987-98 Li Peng
1998-2003 Zhu Rongji
2003-13 Wen Jiabao
2013 Li Keqiang

Leader of China's Communist Party

1921-27 Chen Duxiu
1927-28 Qu Qiubai
1928-31 Xiang Zhongfa
1931-35 Qin Bangxian (Bo Gu)
1935-43 Zhang Wentian
1943-76 Mao Zedong
1976-81 Hua Guofeng
1981-87 Hu Yaobang
1987-89 Zhao Ziyang
1989-2002 Jiang Zemin
2002-12 Hu Jintao
2012- Xi Jinping

The cultural Revolution

There were also many intellectuals who were more or less disgustedly critical of Mao at this time, and it was against these and the cultural establishment that Mao, with the support of his wife Jiang Qing, first directed his criticism, when he initiated the biggest and most dramatic power struggle in the party's history, the Cultural Revolution 1966-76. He also received support from the army, parts of the party and young enthusiastic supporters, so-called Red Guards. Mao's main enemies were "the leaders in the party that went the capitalist path", ie. mainly Liu and Deng. But the attacks soon came to the forefront of all levels of society, and many of them were dismissed after being humiliated and beaten in public. Liu died in 1969 of the treatment he was subjected to, while Deng, who had to spend a few years in the country, did better.

The situation in China became increasingly chaotic as various revolutionary groups ended up in conflict, and in 1968 the army was ordered to step in and restore order. The young people who had been a strong support for Mao were now sent out into the country to learn from the peasants, and their role was thus played out. The power of the army, on the other hand, was strengthened, and Mao, who became increasingly concerned about this, now sought to create a counterbalance by once again strengthening the civilian part of the party apparatus. According to official records, then, in 1971, Lin Biao must have made an unsuccessful attempt to murder Mao but himself died in an air crash in Mongolia on the run to the Soviet Union. The army's power then diminished, and the last years leading up to Mao's death in 1976 were marked by a struggle between the "gangs of the four" led by Jiang Qing, who, like Mao, emphasized above all the class struggle and political cleanliness, and Deng Xiaoping, who made come back in 1973, and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, who wanted to invest more in the development of production. In connection with tributes to the recently deceased Zhou on April 5, 1976, disturbances occurred on Tiananmen Square, after the police removed wreaths to Zhou. Deng was blamed for the unrest and was again deposited from his posts. A few months later, Mao died and was succeeded by Hua Guofeng, whom he himself launched. In October of that year, Hua arrested members of the "gang of four" who were accused of planning a coup (they were convicted in 1981 for "counter-revolutionary crimes"). But Hua's position soon weakened, after Deng, with the support of many within the party in 1977, returned to the party top.

China under Deng Xiaoping

At the Eleventh Central Committee's third plenary in 1978, Deng's political line definitely gained the upper hand. Now a policy was launched that was mainly aimed at getting the economic development in China started, while the class struggle was toned down. In agriculture, households became the most important production unit, and farmers were encouraged to engage in binaries and start industries in the countryside.

In the cities, people were encouraged to start their own, which led to many new companies growing in the highly disadvantaged service sector. Government companies were granted the right to self-determination, and foreign companies were encouraged to invest in China. Favorable conditions for foreign investors were offered in the special economic zones that were now set up. Students were sent abroad, and the country was opened to the outside world to a completely different extent than before. led to demands for democratization of society.

Although Chinese society became more open in the 1980s than before, there were limits to how much Deng and the old people who still had the decisive influence in the party could tolerate. Student demonstrations in 1986, which came to be seen as an expression of "bourgeois liberalization", led Deng's former protector, the general secretary of the party Hu Yaobang, to resign in 1987. His successor Zhao Ziyang also resigned after student demonstrations in 1989. These demonstrations, triggered by the House death, received great support from the population due to dissatisfaction with the party's policy. But Deng and the party's elders chose to have the military carry out a massacre that resulted in thousands of people being killed or injured in Beijing. The reaction in the outside world was strong, and China was isolated for a time in the world community.

However, the economic sanctions were gradually lifted, and in 1992 diplomatic relations at the highest level between China and the world's leading nations had been resumed.

Economic reform policy

After a few years of economic austerity and talk of political cleanliness, in early 1992, after Deng Xiaoping's trip to southern China, strong signals emerged that economic reform policy would be put first. This led to an increasing interest in the Chinese market, and foreign investment in the country increased strongly. But as economic exchange increased and China took new steps towards a "socialist market economy", political criticism of China continued. This was mainly due to the lack of respect for human rights, but also to trade policy issues and more.

In China, these attacks were seen as an attempt by the United States in particular to hold back China. The nationalist moods in the country grew stronger and took, among other things. expression in the chauvinistic bestseller "China Can Say No," which was a bestseller in 1996. In 1997-98, the contradictions between the United States and China were diminished, leading, among other things, to the release of China's best-known dissidents, Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan.

A new challenge to the Communist Party now emerged in the form of the Falun Gong movement, which was banned after conducting a major manifesto in Beijing in 1999. Despite persecution and strong criticism from the authorities, both domestic and foreign supporters of the movement conducted protests in China even after the ban. However, the Communist Party retained its grip on power and no tangible political reforms have yet to be implemented. It was mainly in the economic sphere that changes occurred, which was accelerated by the fact that China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.

Both under Jiang Zemin's leadership of the Communist Party (1989-2002) and Hu Jintos (2002-12), China's economic growth was very high. But the increasing social divisions in society, the many protest actions by groups of dissatisfied and the increasingly serious environmental problems in the country led to a partly new direction under House leadership. The emphasis was on the fact that economic development must take place in a way that also takes into account the environment and the social consequences. The concepts of "scientific development" and "harmonious society" became the new slogans for this, but the result of the efforts became lean. In recent years, economic growth has slowed somewhat and remained slightly below 7 percent annually in 2015-17. Since 2012, Xi Jinping has further prioritized environmental policy and strengthened the opportunities to implement strict environmental laws.

With its increased economic power, not least since the economic crisis in the West began in 2008, and its ever-increasing international exchange, China has become an important player in the international political arena. One sign of this was the so-called six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program that took place in Beijing from 2003 to 2009, when North Korea withdrew. In addition, major international events have been held in China in recent years such as the Beijing 2008 Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo 2010. In 2013, Xi Jinping launched a new international development strategy. The strategy represents a gigantic investment in foreign investment and shows China's ambitions to play a leading role in the world economy. Investments can also be clearly linked to China's geopolitical strategic interests.

The urban population in China in 2012 was for the first time larger than the rural population. More than 51 percent of the country's 1.3 billion residents lived in urban areas in 2012. The world's longest express train was opened in China in early December. The line links Beijing in the north with the industrial hub of Guangzhou in the south.

Internationally known artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei was arrested in early April 2011 when he boarded an airplane to Hong Kong, accused of tax evasion. The same year, the Chinese authorities again increased control over social media.

During the 18th Congress of the Communist Party, as expected, Vice President Xi Jinping was elected new Secretary-General of the Communist Party after the outgoing party leader and President Hu Jintao. The following year, the change of leadership was confirmed by Xi's election as president. Following Xi Jinping's entry, the Communist Party increased its already harsh repression against regime critics and human rights activists, as well as the lawyers defending them. Xi's policy has meant that the already limited freedom of expression has been further restricted.

In conjunction with a APEC summit(Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) China concluded a series of important bilateral agreements in 2014, including a free trade agreement with South Korea. China and Japan announced their intention to hold talks on the Diaoyu Islands, which in Japanese are called the Senkaku Islands and which both countries claim. China and the Russian Federation also took several steps that brought the countries closer together. Most of the agreements between the countries concerned energy issues. In addition, the countries will strengthen their military cooperation and, among other things, carry out joint military exercises at sea. Xi Jinping also met with US President Barack Obama on a climate agreement. According to this, China should not be allowed to increase its emissions of carbon dioxide after 2030, while the US goal is to reduce its emission levels by 26-28 percent compared to 2005 levels.

In 2003, the virus disease broke out in SARs in Hong Kong and Vietnam, among others. The infection was later attributed to an epidemic in the Chinese province of Guangdong in 2002. In China, about 5,300 people died. At the end of 2019, a new similar virus was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. The virus was named SARS-CoV-2 (see coronavirus) and spread rapidly throughout the world. By March 2020, 3,100 people had died and more than 80,000 had been infected in China alone. In several Chinese cities, anti-proliferation measures were taken, including Beijing being quarantined.

Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, making the city the first to host both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics.

Historical overview

1 300 000 BC Homo erectus in Lantian in Shaanxi.
600,000 to 230,000 BC Homo erectus in the Zhoukoudi caves near Beijing.
23 000 BC Homo sapiens sapiens in Zhoukoudian.
6000-1500 BC Neolithic cultures in central and eastern China, including Yangshao in Huang Ha's valley; Qingliangang around the Lower Chang River; Dawenkou in Shandong and Longshan on the east coast. Increasing use of copper and bronze from the 3000s. Towards the end of the period, rudimentary state formation appears.
about 1500-1040 BC The Shang Dynasty, ruled by a priest king. Oracle archive from Shang's last capital, Yin. A highly driven bronze casting technique. Millet, wheat and rice are the main crops.
about 1040 BC The princes of Zhou overthrow the Shang empire. The King of Zhou is perceived as Tianzi; Heaven's son and representative on earth. Beginning feudal empire.
770-221 BC The king is degraded to only high priest; rival county princes are fighting for power. Confucianism, Daoism and legalism are established as fundamental thought systems. The population is divided into nobility, farmers, craftsmen and merchants.
221 BC The country unites under the despot Qin Shi Huangdi. The nobility loses its privileges. Extensive expansion of the walls to the north, as well as of road networks and irrigation facilities.
213 BC Legalism in the high seat. The big book burning.
207 BC The Qin Empire is overthrown by the rebel leader Liu Bang, who in 202 BC becomes the Hand Emperor's first emperor. Confucianism merges with cosmological notions of the two forces yin and yang. Economic and geographical expansion.
138 BC Emperor Wu's embassy to Central Asia.
136 BC An imperial academy for the study of Confucian scriptures lays the foundation for the state diploma system.
9-23 AD Reformer Wang Mang's interregnum.
25 The hand dynasty regains power. However, the imperial power is successively undermined by clique formation at the court and eunuch empire.
184 The riot of the yellow turbans.
220-222 The male empire collapses after protracted fighting. China is divided into three economic key areas: Wei in the north, Shu-Han in the southwest and Wu in the south.
317-589 Continued fragmentation. Chinese dynasties rule the area south of the Chang River, while various Turkish, Mongolian and Tibetan peoples rule northern China.
589 China unites under the South Dynasty.
604-610 The Emperor Canal links the capital Luoyang with the Chang River and extends north to the vicinity of Beijing and south to Hangzhou.
611-614 Failed attempts to conquer Korea.
618-645 Li Yuan (Gaozu) and his son Li Shimin (Taizong) found the Dynasty Tang. The capital Chang'an (now Xi'an), the world's largest city, serves as the centerpiece of civilizations in East Asia. A new management system is created, which will last until the fall of the empire in 1912.
712-56 Under Emperor Xuangzong, the Tang Empire's infrastructure is being developed. Cultural life is booming.
751 By defeating the Arabs on the River Talas, China loses dominion over Western and Central Asia.
755 The military governor An Lushan revolts, and the emperor is forced to flee to Sichuan.
762-763 The eastern capital Luoyang is looted by Uighur troops and the western capital Chang'an by Tibetan troops.
843-845 Buddhist property is secularized.
907-960 In the case of the Tang Empire, there are five short-lived dynasties, which dominate the Huang Hes valley and areas south of the Chang River.
960 Zhao Kuangyin founded the Song Dynasty.
1069-85 Wang Anshi seeks to implement a radical economic reform program, "The New Laws", with the aim of improving farmers' conditions and stabilizing the state's finances.
1085-93 Conservative reaction to the reform program.
1126-27 The Tongan Jurassic tribe occupies the capital Kaifeng. Emperor Huizong is taken prisoner. The head is forced to flee to southern China.
1206 Djingi's khan is elected leader of the Mongol tribes.
1211 The Mongols fall into China.
1271 Khubilai khan founded the Yuand dynasty. Dadu (now Beijing) becomes the capital (1272).
1279 The Song Dynasty is overthrown.
1368 Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty. Nanjing becomes the capital.
1405-33 Zheng He leads sea expeditions across the Indian Ocean, including to Arabia and the east coast of Africa.
1421 The capital is relocated to Beijing.
1557 Portuguese trading station in Macau.
1601 Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci is hired at the court.
1644 The Ming Dynasty is overthrown, and the Manchu ruler Shunzhi is proclaimed Emperor of the Qing Dynasty.
1662-1723 The Kangxi reign is a highlight of the history of the Chinese empire.
1816 The British ambassador is dismissed from Beijing.
1839-42 Opium War.
1850-64 Taiping Rebellion.
1853-68 Nian Rebellion.
1855-77 Muslim uprisings in various parts of China.
1856-60 Arrow War.
1883-85 Chinese-French War.
1894-95 Chinese-Japanese War.
1898 Emperors Guangxu are placed under house arrest after trying to carry out reforms.
1898-1901 Boxer Rebellion.
1911-12 The empire falls.
1916-28 Warlords dominate China.
1919 Fourth-May-movement.
1921 The Communist Party of China (CCP) is founded.
1923-24 Guomindang (GMD) is reorganized.
1924-27 Cooperation between GMD and the CCP against the warlords.
1928-49 GMD with Chiang Kai-shek as leader controls China.
1931 Japan occupies northeastern China.
1932 Manchuria is proclaimed as an independent state, Manchukuo.
1934-35 The CCP is conducting a long march.
1936 Xi'an Incident.
1937 Japan attacks China on a full scale. Cooperation between GMD and CCP against Japan.
1945 After the end of the Second World War, negotiations between GMD and the CCP begin.
1946-49 Civil war between GMD and the CCP.
1949 The People's Republic of China is proclaimed. Chiang Kai-shek flees to Taiwan. The socialization of society begins.
1950-53 China participates in the Korean War.
1956 The socialization of society carried out in general. The campaign "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools debate!" begins.
1957 "Anti-Rightist Campaign."
1958 The "big leap" campaign. The municipalities are set up.
1959-61 The three starvation years.
1960 Mining between China and the Soviet Union.
1966-76 The Cultural Revolution.
1971 The death of Lin Biao. The People's Republic of China gets a seat in the UN.
1976 China's three top leaders, Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Zhu De, are deceased. "The gang of fours" are arrested.
1978 Deng Xiaoping's reform policy begins.
1986-87 Student demonstrations lead to Hu Yaobang's departure.
1989 Hu Yaobang's death leads to new student demonstrations. Massacre in Beijing. Zhao Ziyang is forced to step down.
1992 Deng Xiaoping's trip to southern China is driving economic reform policy again.
1997 Deng Xiaoping dies. Hong Kong returns to China.
1999 Macao returns to China.
2001 China joins the World Trade Organization (WTO).
2002 Hu Jintao will take over as president.
2008 China hosts the Beijing Olympics.
2010 World exhibition is held in Shanghai. China goes around Japan and becomes the world's second largest economy after the United States.
2013 Xi Jinping takes over as president.


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