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 China's Main Page

The History of China



 

Overview

Man in China passed from primitive society to slave society with the founding of the first dynasty,  Xia and continuing through the following dynasties.  

The slave era was followed by the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, which started the transition to a feudal society. This period had thriving philosophy with representatives of various schools vying with each other in writing books to discuss politics and analyze society.  Famous philosophers in this period included Lao Zi, Confucius, Mo Zi and Sun Zi.

The first emperor was Shi Huang Di (Ying Zheng) of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), who standardized the script, currencies, weights and measures, and established a system of prefectures and counties.  He constructed the Great Wall in addition to a large palace, mausoleum and regal lodges in several locations around China.  The terra cotta armies (found underground) are known to be the eight wonder of the world. 

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khubilai_khan_hunting.jpg (16309 bytes)In 1206, Genghis Khan unified all the tribes in Mongolia and founded the Mongol Khanate.  In 1271, his grandson Kublai Khan, conquered the Central Plain, founded the Yuan Dyanasty (1271-1368) and made Dadu (Beijing) the capital.  Many merchants came from abroad and the handicraft industry along with domestic and foreign trade boomed.  Marco Polo came from Venice and traveled extensively in China and later described his travels the country's prosperity.  The "four great inventions" of the Chinese people were further developed during this and the Song era (paper making, printing, the compass and gun powder).

The Opium War of 1840 marked a turning point in Chinese history.  The corrupt and incompetent Qing government capitulated to the foreign invaders time and again, and finally signed the Treaty of Nanjin with Britain, a treaty of national betrayal and humiliation.  From then on, China was reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country.

The Revolution of 1911, a bourgeois-democratic revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, ended the rule of the Qing Dynasty and is of great significance in modern Chinese history.  

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