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China 5000 Years of Civilization - The Chinese Origins and short History

The origins of China and the Chinese go as far back as 5000 years before Christ, or more. Evidence of inhabitation in the era of 10.000 BC can be found at Helan Pass in Ningxia Autonomous Region, and along the Northern Mountain Borders of Xinjiang AR, current day Gansu Province and in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
These were however very primitive and dark tribal times, with men living in close contact with nature as hunter-gatherers.
The earliest Chinese civilizations however, were primitive societies which had just developed agricultural skills and primitive tools & pottery. These only arose at around 5000 BC in other area's of East Asia, counted many more citizens and spawned the first true villages and cities.
Similar to early civilizations elsewhere in the world, they knew of no script at first.
From this point the early Chinese would move remarkably quickly on the ladder of inventions and civilization. The following Chinese were the first to develop bronze-working to an already high level and they were the world leader in ceramics from their earliest invention.
Only when primitive script was invented, with some signs still recognizable in today's Chinese caracters , the earliest histories started to be recorded.
Before this period not very much is known, other than through archeological finds and studies. There are however many legends of the period before script was developed, legends that the Chinese themselves regard as part of their true historic heritage.
According to legend, the foundations for Chinese civilization and what is now known as the Xia Dynasty, were laid by the Three Emperors and Five Sovereigns. Among these is the well-known Yellow Emperor, a leader an scholar also said to be responsible for the earliest foundations of traditional chinese medicine and who's Queen is said to have been the first to raise silk-worms and develop a primitive silk industry. Shen Nong, another of the Emperors is said to be responsible for creating the first primitive farming tools, such as the hoe and the wooden-plow. The Third, Wu Xi, supposedly dedicated himself to the domestication of all farm animals of the early civilization. Among them small horses, the cow, goat and others.
Summarized the legends explain mythically and romantically how the first inventions and developments had been made, and how the first agricultural civilization with script came into being in the yellow river basin of China. From there it would spread into an ever larger territory and would be touched by many cultures and peoples and idea's.
Although wrapped in Legends of history, the mentioned archeological finds do underwrite the development of early sedentary civilization in China at around 6- to 5000 years BC. The most well-known find is found on the outskirts of present day Xi'an in Shaanxi Province, a city that would later remain at the center of early civilization and was home to the Capital of Han and Tang Dynasties. Here the Ban Po neolithic village gives a good insight into what the dawn of Civilization in the far east on the eur-asian continent was like. Other sites include those near Yangshao Village in Henan Province, the Shandong Province Longshan Culture finds and even some finds at Wanfujing in Beijing, Hebei Province.

The China of the earliest dynasties was nothing like that early China of 5 or 6 thousand years ago, just as today's China does not much resemble the China of the Feudal Ming or even Ching Dynasty. However, recorded history and script start with the Shang Dynasty. In the process of further building their civilization, the structure of the state, the size of the state and its territory, the people, ethnic groups, food, habits and culture all changed numerous of times, to end up as today's customs, China, Chinese people and culture.
The centralized state, only distantly similar to today's political situation, developed somewhere in the 3rd century BC and was first truly established and developed by the Chin Shi Huangdi and his short-lived Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. - 207 B.C.). Slowly a feudal system as we know it evolved, through several stages. As Time advanced, each Dynasty would have its own power-structure and organization, depending on needs, philosophic and technical developments.
The Chinese Culture and Territory had expanded and united under the Ch'in and although it disintegrated several times, the Chinese Culture Area would keep expanding in all directions.

After the days of the Chin, the earliest Great Wall of China finally enabled successive Dynasties and Chinese peoples to conquer the West and thus open up the famed Silk Road, which would be the economic life-line for further development and contacts with the world. The silk road was won by the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD), in a long and protracted
A Summary of All Chinese Dynasties
Early Hsia 2205 BC - Late Qing 1911 AD
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Several Dynasties ruled the Chinese but none were able to stop the advance from the North and the continuous loss of Territory to the Tribes.
Eventually Genghis Khan, a mongol leader, united the clans of the North and through a strong campaign managed to conquer North China, descend on and raise the Capital of the Jin at YanJing /Dadu (Beijing) and establish Mongol Power over the Han Chinese by 1215 AD. The (Southern) Jin Dynasty lasted a little longer in Kaifeng (Henan Province) but was equally subdued in 1234 AD. In the South the Southern Song Dynasty would even last until 1276 AD. All resistance ended in 1279 AD.
The Mongol Yuan Dynasty of China, that was born from this invasion, would rule China for 162 years. In this period the Chinese Government would be further centralized, making the Emperor (Kublai Khan) an absolute Monarch. The Mongol Emperor thus tried to position himself to centrally rule the Empire by using the Han Chinese Aristocracy and bureaucracy, however the set-up failed. Instead the rule turned into a period of ethnic seperation between Mongol & Manchu Nationalities on on side, and Han Chinese on the bottom other side. The Han Chinese were severely discriminated against politically. The Mongol and Manchu officials distributed influential jobs among themselves leaving Han Chinese out of the ruling Game. While the Mongols built the largest Empire ever to exist in world history, the Chinese were not second rate, but third rate citizens in their own country, making the Mongol Yuan Dynasty a hated Foreign Rule. Thus,no matter how much the Mongols
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conflict with the mongolian and northern tribes.
In many centuries there-after they would remain a looming threat on the Chinese Northern Border and a need for a Great Wall of China would be a recurring event.
In the Third Century for instance, China's culture, peoples and civilization would be strongly influenced and even (partially) ruled by northern tribes during the interesting period of the Wei Dynasty (386 - 584 AD) in North China. This Dynasty is not counted in the main line of Dynasties of China. Born from turcmenic Toba Tribes that descended into North China from as far as what is now Mongolia, would the Wei Dynasty of the North would lead another Era of Silk Road success. The Toba integrated with- and adopted Chinese Culture and would bring many new idea's and riches. Although in ambivalent relation with nomadic tribes, the Wei Dynasty, saw the Han chinese nation embrace buddhism, one of the foreign faiths carried along the silk road from India. Buddhism would play a leading role in Chinese philosophy and culture in the next millenium.
The Silk Road era that began with the Han Dynasty and carried on through the Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and beyond would also make China a Nation of very many ethnic minorities.
Smaller examples buddhist cave art of the Monumental Wei Dynasty buddhist statues of Yungang near Datong in Shanxi, still colorful after 1800 years. Other Wei Dynasty caves, evidence of the penetration of buddhism on the silk road, are found at LuoYang in Henan, Lanzhou in Gansu and other places.
access to the Silk Route through the Taklamakan Desert in the aftermath of the Han Dynasty and subsequent implosion of the Empire, quickly set out to reconquer the Western Lands and drive out the various Nomdaic Tibes of Central Asia and the North. Subsequently they restored The Great Wall of China established by the Han Dynasty and even added some 500 more Kilometers, extending it from the Jade Gate (Yu Men) outside Dunhuang (=Blazing Beacon) in Gansu Province to Lop Nur in Xinjiang AR and the very edges of the eternal sands of the (Central) Taklamakan Desert.
With the Nomads again tugged safely away behind mighty defenses, the heartland bloomed and so the conquests could go on.
For a while, the Tang achieved such successes that the Peninsula Kingdom of Korea was made a Tributary State. So were Vietnam (Annam), Laos and Cambodia (Siam) and the Island Kingdoms of Japan. Tang Armies roamed as far North as the current day borders of the Republic of Mongolia, to the River Amur in HeilongJiang and far west along the Silk Road,
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Overview of the Length and Path of the Great Wall of China of the Ming Dynasty. Includes links to Cities and Great Wall of China Passes. - Click Map for Full Version !
During the later Ming China would once more turn inwards upon itself and the chinese culture. By the second half of the 16Th Century the Maritime Missions were terminated by Imperial Decree. The Capital had been moved North from Nanjing in southern Jiangsu Province to Beijing (now in Hebei Province), the personal Fiefdom of Zhu Di Yongle, in 1403 AD. Nearer the Great Wall of China, the new location of the Capital City made for better coordination of defense from China's
As mentioned, the rule by Mongol Foreigners was a truely hated one, their discrimination ensuring their eventuall downfall in China. The remnants of the Yuan Dynasty would retreat to the North with their armies, pursued by the Ming who vowed never to let the Yuan return.
Hence, The Great Wall of China once more comes into play.
After the Han Chinese had driven the hated Mongolians and their Yuan Dynasty out, the Ming Dynasty led the Han Chinese and China into a new Golden Age of literature, arts, invention and even discovery.
The Zheng He Tribute Missions of the earliest reigns of the Ming Dynasty, predating european exploration of the Indian Ocean, are legendary. In the 15Th Century China rose from foreign domination into a new era of unity. The relations with neighbors in central Asia, the allies of the Yuan Dynasty, were at an absolute lowpoint, forcing the Empire to look elsewhere for friends. 7 Missions were launched, exploring as far as around the Cape of Good Hope, however, thereafter all such journeys were terminated. Underlining the definitive nature of this historic decision, all records of the maritime explorations were collected and then destroyed, leaving an enormous historic void.
As a result, although intesting and turbulent of themselves, and full of inventions, the ages following, all the way until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD) can be seen as a decline. China and the Chinese limited themselves in explorations of the outside world and would only center upon their own civilization and those similar and near. Others were seen as inferior, and were expected to pay tribute to the greatness of Chinese Civilization. A rather ethno-centric approach.

Within the middle Kingdom however, things felt remarkably different throughout both Ming and Qing Dynasty. It seemed as if the Chinese were the most civilized and also most powerfull and most succesful nation in the world. Many inventions were made throughout the Ming Dynasty, resulting in an explosion of things Chinese and the spread of Chinese Culture, inventions and products all over Asia and even to the West. The Bronze Work, and blue & white ceramics of this booming period for civilization (14Th and 15Th Century) are well-known, and can be found in archeological finds in Asia, Arabia, throughout Africa and in western and eastern europe. Developments are too many to mention, here but very substantial.

And so, through centuries, the feudal system and the Ming Dynasty carried itself on, Emperor after Emperor.In the 16Th Century the first European foreigners arrived in China by use of their ships, quietly sounding in a new Era for China. Although it would be a long time before their influence would truely be felt, the first European "Base" was established in 1557 AD, when the Portugese gained a permanent trading base at the Southern Island Port of Macau.
Soon the traders were followed by the more ominous "missionaries", who set about converting and subverting the Emperors subjects. Meanwhile, a group of them led by one Mattheo Ricci, headed for Beijing to establish relations with the Ming Court.
The new contacts with the Europeans opened up new trade possibilities with the outside world leading to a cascade of new inventions and products. Among them, the Europeans brought the potato and maize, and the western silver was welcomed as payment. Tea, blue- and white- porcelain and other chinese products flowed out in large volumes. The Emperor himself was particularly interested in the European guns and canon.
In the period after the establishment of contact and trade with the far away foreigners the Ming Empire underwent a blooming period. The merchant class became more important and respected. In this period the banking and merchant cartels of Shanxi Province (see PingYao) developed a new financial system - the Draft Banks, eventually to cover the entire Empire. The size of City populations rose markedly and literacy became more wide-spread.

The demise of the Ming Dynasty would not come from the Europeans, was brought upon by large scale mismanagement of both country and economy. Although China had bloomed, the flower was smothered from within  by the intrigues of court eunuchs. Natural disasters, abject poverty of an abused peasant-class, and last but not least, the establishment of a new Northern Dynasty under the Manchu Prince Nuerhachi (1559 AD - 1627 AD), would become the final undoing of the Ming Empire.
While infighting and revolt fragmented the Ming Empire and intrigues eroded court power, the tribes North of the Wall had been united by a Manchu Tribe. By the beginning of the 17Th Century, the northerners started raiding into Chinese Territory and gained considerable foothold in the South. Slowly Beijing, the Ming Capital, was being surrounded.
At this moment of the already weakened Empire, the territories were swept by a number of natural disasters; droughts, floods and plagues ravaged the country leaving the already deprived peasantry pennyless and thus landless. With no other choice than to turn criminal and revolt, a large peasant uprising suddenly swept the country and peasants stood at the Gates of the Imperial City of Beijing.

However, while the peasants were besieging the City of Beijing, treason was at hand. A Chinese General, responsible for the protection of the Shanhai Pass on the Great Wall of China (near Qinghuangdao in Hebei Province) decided the only chance to save the Empire would be to ally with the North. Thus, the Manchu Armies that first threatened the Empire were now let into the Great Wall of China, and both Chinese and Manchu descended on the Imperial Capital City of Beijing.
Unable to recover from such a shock and surprise, the defending garrison fled, leaving the last Ming Emperor to commit suicide (at Jingshan, Beijing). Subsequently the peasants were able to take the city and the leader of the peasant uprising was subsequently crowned Emperor, however, this was not the end of it. The one-day Emperor was dethroned and the Manchu Qing Emperor of the North assumed control of the Chinese Empire, leading the way into centuries of rule of the Manchu Ching Dynasty.
Another foreign rule held sway over China.

For over 200 years the Jesuits did their best to make friends with the Court and they eventually succeeded, leaving among things, the Ancient Astronomical Observatory of Beijing, and its instruments as their legacy. However, almost as soon as the Court relations were truly established, they were soured by the subversive activities of the Missionaries and the trading wishes from newly arriving western powers. The History of these soured relations were reflected in the farings of the First Christian Churches in China, founded in Beijing.
Both the First Parish (1605 AD) and Cathedral in China, NanTang established by Mattheo Ricci near his home at XuanwuMen in Beijng and the North Church Xishiku were attacked several times in their turbulent pasts, as were other Churches in China.
By the Time the Missionary Issue first came to a head, the Ming had been replaced by the Manchu Qing of the North and the west had built up more trading bases and extracted concessions. They were however, still very much restricted in their freedom of operating in Chinese Territory, especially the inner provinces. By 1720 AD, the activities of the Missionaries had become an eyesore to the Emperor and Empire. Thereafter, Five Emperors would effectively boycot and curtail all missionary activities. Another issue and cause of friction was the enormous trade success of China, leading to shortage of silver in the West. Both matters would eventually combine and lead to War.

The Manchu Qing had cleverly and finally solved the problem of the threat from the Northern Tribes by including all parties within its territory. As a result of its earlier conquest of the remnants of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 AD - 1368 AD), the Mongols and Mongolia were included within China. So were the Manchu themselves (Manchuria) and the rest of China. Furthermore, the Qing Rulers carefully avoided the mistake of the Mongols and adopted Chinese Ways outright. During their succesive Reign the Manchu carefully balanced the wishes and rights of all ethnic people, never discriminating or promoting one over the other. Except Manchu ofcourse.
The scholarly class was bribed by continued interest from the court and the possibility to rise through the ranks, but were otherwise kept in check by laws preventing anti-manchu publications or comments.
The Manchu rule was further established over the Chinese people by a combination of strict media censorship, harsh punishments and the peculiar rule that all Chinese men must dress as Manchu men and have Manchu hairstyle. All Men had to adopt a shaven forehead and wear a long pigtail.

The Qing's main contributions to China and chinese civilization are the incorporation of the Mongol, Tibetan and Manchu Nationalities through the conquest of new lands added to Chinese Territory. After dealing with the Three Feudatories Qing Emperor Kangxi personally led Military Campaigns in Tibet, Dzungaria and against Russia in the West and North, Next in turn, under Qianlong in the 18Th Century, the far west was conquered and named XinJiang, re-establishing roughly the borders of current day China in the west along the Lines of Han (and Tang) Dynasty conquests of the far past. In 1751 AD, under the Reign of Qianlong the Religious Kingdom of Tibet was made a protectorate of the Manchu Dynasty, completing the Qing Conquest along strategic lines. Beforehand relations between Tibet and China had been close already, but the main reason for the Tibetans to hand over their sovreignty was the growing threat from the British Armies in India, and the militarist Russian Nation to the North. Although the Lama's would remain nominally in power,the were thereafter granted their ruling titles by the Chinese Emperor and would pay tribute to the Chinese Court.

At the turn of the 18Th Century a new Era had started to dawn on the Ching Empire as european nations developed industry and gained growing power and greedyness. An arrogant Papal Mission in 1702 AD enraged court by flaunting etiquette and demanding to negotiate with the Kangxi Emperor as equals, although mere representatives of their Kings and Emperors.
The Chinese were not amused. From there relations rapidly went downhill as the eloquent foreigners finally showed their true interests and caracters.

Successive Emperors YongZheng, and Qianlong first banned missionary activity inside the Chinese Empire, than proceeded to impose strict trading rules and limits on maritime trade and entry. Finally, Qianlong restricted all foreign trade to the port of Canton in an ultimate attempt to thwart the foreign intrigue. In the final years of his Reign Qianlong completely rejected the many requests from the British Emmisary, communicating to him that no British Trade or product was needed.
The Year 1727 AD did however see an important Trade Agreement with former enemy Russia. Under the Yongzheng Emperor, China and Russia, eager to see relations normalized, came to the Cakurtu Treaty. Under the Cakurtu Treaty the bordertown of Cakurtu would become a trading and exchange point between the two nations, rapidly ushering in what would become the Tea Road. Mostly monopolized by Shanxi Merchants, the Tea Road quickly became a vital resource of silver currency for the quickly growing Chinese economy, much adding to the success of the Qing Dynasty in their Golden Age between the Kangxi Emperor and the Qianlong Emperor.

While a new threat was announcing itself, the Ching Empire began to fail under its own success. Due to better government,water management, new developments in agriculture, increased trade with a booming economy and other factors, the Chinese population exploded during the 17Th Century. By the 18Th Century population had already doubled, putting a huge strain on available land. Han Chinese started to emigrate into the newly conquered lands in the North & West, coming into conflict with the native inhabitants. As a result, ethnic strife became common and large scale unrests occured throughout the land. Many campaigns to subdue the many rebellions started to erode the Nation's Unity and deplete the State coffers. During the 19Th Century the Qing Dynasty was already much in decline for internal reasons. Then Opium was introduced.

In the early 19Th Century western trading nations grew more and more desperate to reverse the huge trading imbalance with China. A shortage of silver in the west was undermining their economy. The new substance of opium was to be the cure.
Against growing protests from the Chinese Rulers, western traders continued to import growing quantities of Opium into China. The Chinese economy was now being bled dangerously and the plague of addiction was sweeping the country.
Finally, in 1839 AD, the situation came to conflict at the designated Harbor City of Guangzhou (Canton) in Guangdong Province. As a drastic measure against the now banned opium trade, the local Governor of the City had all opium taken from the foreigners and burnt on the spot.
As if waiting for the opportunity already, the western reaction to this "provocation" would be immediate and strong. A War Fleet was dispatched from Britain and soon hostilities broke out leading to what is now known as the First Opium War. In the War Canton was taken by force - 5 treaty ports, among which Fuzhou and Shanghai were extorted. In 1844 AD, the DaoGuang Emperor was forced to lift the long-standing Ban on Missionary Activities within China and the Men and Women of "Faith" flocked in by the 10 thousands.

A second Opium War would soon follow, further humiliating China and extracting extra-territoriality and more so called treaty ports (Port Arthur, Weihewei, etc).
With no less than 8 foreign nations encroaching on its soil, soul, authority and financial reserves the Qing Dynasty, raked by Court Intrigue slowly hobbled to its self-created demise.
Legendary from this Era is the Empress-Dowager Cixi, a court lady who would turn tricks on more than one Emperor and come to rule the ever dwindling Empire almost until its final day. Only interested in preserving her own priviliged position, the cruel misstress had little talent for world-politics and thus the nation was pillaged and reduced to a semi-colony, divided among eager foreign rivals.
In 1897 AD the Chinese Fleet was defeated by Japan and Korea was lost. Another player had stepped in.

In the very end it was an all grab for Chinese Riches. The chinese peoples, already poor, were left destitude and downtrotten while foreigners enjoyed the good life, insulted Chinese sensitivities and got away with it unpunished and unbothered. With the growth of Chinese resentment came new political awareness among the common people. As first shown by the TaiPing (Heavenly Kingdom), national consciousness was growing. Although they were ultimatly defeated, the TaiPing Rebellion was a well organized political movement that used new idea's of political organization to arouse the interest of the common peoples of China.
main enemies, the Northern Tribes. Under Yongle, the third Ming Emperor a new round of construction on the Great Wall of China was undertaken. In succesive years, conflict with the North continued and the 6Th Ming Emperor was even captured and held hostage by the North. In defense, the Great Wall of China was further fortified and strengthened over centuries and reached its Maximum length. About the Ming Economy can be said that the establishement of Maritime Trade and even a maritime silk road boosted the early Ming Economy considerably.
A Magnificent Liao Dynasty Era (907 AD -1125 AD) carved Statue of GuanYin, the Goddess of Mercy (Clay on Stone). At the Shanxi Provincial Museum of History, TaiYuan, Shanxi Province.
China Report - Historic Map - China (Qing) Empire in 1910 AD
An obviously non-Chinese but western-made Map of the Ching Dynasty Chinese Empire in the year 1910 AD, a year in which China's sovereignty has been under threat and siege for over 70 years.
In this Map of 1910 AD, made one year before the abdication of Last Ching Emperor Xuan Tung (a.k.a.Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi) and the final end of China's Feudal History, China is depicted as in it's smallest boundaries and definition. Most notably Manchuria, and Inner Mongolia, both territories nominally under Chinese Control and under Chinese Sovereignty are depicted as separate area's.
Other interesting features of the Map and geography of the Time : after the Sino-Japanese war of 1899 AD, both Korea and the Island of Formosa (now Taiwan / ROC) have been annexed by the Japanese Empire.
Map of China - Ching Dynasty Empire in 1910 AD
In 1900 AD a third war with the Foreigners ensued. Initially a popular uprising initiated in Shandong in 1898 AD, in defense of the Peninsula Province against further foreign aggresion. Invasion by 8 allied nations. Burning of the Summer Palace.

After the Boxer Rebellion new events and influences infiltrated Chinese thought and politics.
In 1911 The (First) Republic of China is established under the leadership of Dr. Sun Yat Sen with backing from the main modernized Ching Dynasty Army under Leadership of "Traitor-General" Yuan Shi Kai.
As a result of events the Qing Emperor, the
The Nationalist period (1928 AD - 1949 AD) was equally corrupt as the painful warlord days. Chiefly, there was only one difference. The main warlord was Chiang Kai Chek, and his fascist-nationalist clique of profiteers were solidly backed by Chinese, British, American and other foreign bankers and conglomerates.
Immediately a reign of terror ensued, reversing trends and ensuring Foreign Financial Interests in China.

leading to a civil war with the Communist Party and its independent areas.

Communist victory and establishment of the People's Republic of China on october 1st 1949 AD, first and foremost, an independent nation, free from foreign infringements.
The Great Wall, although a large burden to the Chinese State did spawn its own Trade economy. In  a time of dire needs, destitude and poverty stricken Shanxi Citizens, their home one of the most arid and drought stricken Province but located strategicall between the fertile inner lands and the Great Wall defense in the North, took to the roads engaging in trade and transport. The business started as a project to supply the Great Wall defenders with their necessary grain in return for Imperial Salt as payments. By the Time the Ming Dynasty was over the Shanxi Merchants, as they would become known, had come to dominate China's internal trade and transport, making them vital to the economy and among the richer families in the Empire.
Behind the Wall Chinese life was chinese, and mainly without foreign influences. Foreigners had arrived in China, but would mainly be restricted to live at- or on call of the Imperial Court. Among them was one Matteo Ricci, the first Jesuit Priest to arrive in China. Father Matteo would come to live out his life in Beijing.
Music Bonus - Ancient Chinese Classical Melody "Ancient Age".
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A 2nd Schematic Map of the Silk Road during the Roman Age. In 30 BC the Roman Empire started trading with India, which was already well known from the Conquest of Alexander the Great (+/- 330 BC). In the following 6 centuries the West would Trade with India and indirectly also with China through the Silk Road. The Silk Road only lost its Value after the European Age of Discovery and the Establishment of Maritime Trade Routes with India (16Th Century) and later China.
First of All, the Tang Rulers, after Loss of
Rice, now a stable diet all over China and very much identified as being Chinese or Asian, only arrived in China in the 7Th Century AD and large scale cultivation of it became established during the famous Tang Dynasty, which was a golden age for Chinese Civilization. It was during the Tang Dynasty that the South beyond the Yangste River became an integral part of Chinese Han Society and Culture.
Furthermore, through the introduction of rice and subsequent invention of the chained-peddle wheel allowing for better and widespread irrigation, food became more abundant and hence the population of the new lands expanded rapidly. During the 8Th Century Xuanzong Reign of the Tang Dynasty, the 2nd Golden Age of this Era, a very accurate census system counted over 50 million souls within the Empire, doubling the population of Han China during the preceeding Sui Dynasty Era.
The First Legal Code in China (to survive through History), the Implementation of the Imperial Examination System as well as the Moral Codes of Confucianism and Daoism helped create an unusually efficient State Administration System, the most modern of its Time. During the Tang Dynasty Era the centre of Chinese culture shifted away from the original yellow river flow areas, south towards the Yangtze River. Buddhism flowered throughout the Empire and was carried to Vietnam, Korea and Japan and briefly was the One State Religion of the Nation. At the same time however, Confucianism again rose as a semi-religious instrument of State Administration and in the end Confucianism won out over Buddhism as a state doctrine. In 651 AD Islam was first introduced in China through the pathways of the land and maritime silk roads (Read: History of Islam in China).
On more than one occasion the Great Wall was breached, making the tribes a recurring nuisance.
With the decline of chinese strength and unity at the end of the Tang Dynasty and beyond came a new great chance for the nomadic northerners, who for long had had their jealous and greedy eyes on the riches of the great southern civilization.
An invasion from the North, gaining territory first slowly, then everfaster, in the end brought foreign political domination on the Chinese.
China Report - Map Yuan Dynasty Mongol Empire in Time 1206 AD - 1294 AD
A Schematic Map of the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan (TeMuJin) and descendants through its several stages of conquest in its short but Impressive Existance in History. Timeline depicts the Mongol Conquest starting in the Year 1206 AD, when Genghis Khan first united the Mongol-Turkic Tribes of Mongolia and Lake BayKal becoming Great Khan. The Timeline continues through the year 1219 AD, the year 1223 AD taking Transoxiania, 1227 AD, 1237 AD when the Northern Jin Dynasty of China was annihilated, 1259 AD conquering ancient China above the Jiangste River and 1279 AD when all of China was taken and the Yuan Dynasty Established under the Kublai Khan. Last is the Year 1294 AD when the
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Mongol Empire reached its largest geographical size and Zenith, 22% of world land area, but through lack of central leadership and over-expansion fragmented into 4 large parts, then imploded upon itself.
(and Manchu) assimilated with the culture, they remained impopular with the populace.
The Yuan Dynasty Empire was visited by Marco Polo during the Rule of Kublai Khan in 1279 AD. The Mongol Emperors developed agriculture and extended the Grand Canal which now connected to Beijing (Kanbalik), where the Capital of the Yuan was located. Many roads were constructed to better communications within the large Empire. Their tax
policies were benevolent compared to some other Reigns. The confucian-styled Central Imperial Exams
that lasted nearly until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 AD, were established by the Yuan Dynasty.

Eventually, the loss of strong military leaders Genghis Khan, and his grandson the Kublai Khan, proved deadly to the Yuan Dynasty. First all control over lands outside of China was lost to local rulers. Unlucky financial decisions, the creeping of corrupt officials and the rivalries of aristocratic families did the rest. The Fourth Yuan Emperor, RenZong finally changed course, adopting many more chinese customs and appointing Han Chinese Officials to his court (the origin of the Imperial Exam), it was too little, too late.
The Yuan Dynasty, while losing control over outlying territories and its own armies, in the end were slowly stripped of their initial powers and the last Yuan Emperor was evicted from Beijing by the Military Leader Zhu YuanZhang, founder of the new Ming Dynasty.
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The 15Th Century Map of Piri Reis, found at the TopKapi Palace in Istanbul, included much knowledge transmitted on the Silk Road
& early
Dong Tang - Wanfujing Cathedral, or officially St. Josephs' Church, one of the Four Main and Historic Churches in Beijing.
young Pu Yi is forced to abdicate in which Yuan Shi Kai plays a leading role. This ends the Qing Dynasty and puts a Final End to the Feudal Chinese Dynasties. A Giant First Step into modernizing the Chinese Nation and its Political System is taken under Leadership of the KuoMinTang.

However unfortunatly, the First Republic of China is desperately shortlived. Soon after grabbing on to the lashes of Power, Yuan Shi Kai reveals his true truely undemocratic intentions. After manipulations and political infighting, the idealistic Doctor Sun is forced to relinquish his powers in favor of Yuan Shi Kai. The KuoMinTang is increasingly side-lined as partner in the new State and Government. By 1915 AD Yuan Shi Kai attempts a restoration of the same Qing Dynasty he himself betrayed, only to have himself established as the New Emperor. His sad attempts fail miserably as his supporters all turn away from him and declare themselves independent states and territories, ushering in the warlord era.
By 1916 AD, Yuan Shi Kai disappears from the political scene to die a few months later. China and its citizens are left in fragmentation and turmoil.

Warlord Period 1916 AD - 1937 AD.
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as far as the Caspian Sea shores. In this Era China was the largest and most modern military power on the Asian Mainland and worries about large scale invasion were remote.
From the 7Th until the almost the 10Th Century AD China was once again in bloom, and developments rapidly followed each other. Supported by the Grand Canal of the Sui Dynasty, through Trade on the land-route Silk Road through Central Asia reconquered by the Tang Dynasty, and through newly emerging Maritime Trade Routes the internal and external economies prospered. Buddhism further swept the Nation and the Han won territories in the South establishing a maritime silk road to complement the land routes to the West.
After the 10Th Century China's old enemies, the nomadic Northern Tribes, once more gained in military strength leading eventually to renewed conflict. The chinese had wrestled the Silk Road from the Tribes, and eversince wars and conflict raged all through the norther area's, along the length of the road and the Great Wall of China. Countless soldiers served on that Wall that guarded the North Border and the civilization behind it bloomed and expanded south-ward and west-ward.
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