A BRIEF HISTORY
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History of China
Wei (魏), Shu (蜀), and Wu (吳).
Western Jin & Eastern Jin
HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CONTINUITY
A significant aspect of China is its long cultural and national history. The Chinese people have shared a common culture longer than any other group on Earth. The Chinese writing system, for example, dates back almost 4,000 years. The imperial dynastic system of government, which continued for centuries, was established as early as 221 BC. Although specific dynasties were overturned, the dynastic system survived. China was even ruled at times by foreign invaders, such as the Mongols during the Yuan Dynasty, from AD 1279 to 1368, and the Manchus during the Ch'ing Dynasty, from AD 1644 to 1911, but the foreigners were largely absorbed into the culture they governed.
The dynastic system was overturned in 1911, and a weak republican form of government existed until 1949. In that year, after a long civil war, the People's Republic of China, with a Communist government, was proclaimed. This government and the ruling Communist party have controlled China ever since. Although the dynastic system has disappeared, the People's Republic occupies essentially the same territory and governs the same people. If anything, the culture and power of China seem stronger in the late 20th century than at almost any other period in history. Under the People's Republic, China's role in world economic and political affairs has grown increasingly more important.
BEGINNINGS AND EARLY HISTORY
Archaeological evidence suggests that China is one of the cradles of the human race. The earliest known human in China, whose fossilized skull was unearthed in Shanxi Province in 1963, is believed to date back to 600,000 BC. The remains of Sinanthropus pekinensis, known as Peking Man and dating back to 400,000 BC, were excavated in 1923 at Zhoukoudianzhen near Peking. Peking Man was closely related to Pithecanthropus of Java and lived during the Old Stone Age. In the upper caves of Zhoukoudianzhen are found artifacts of a late Old Stone Age man (50,000-35,000 BC), who ranks in age with the Cro-Magnon of Europe. This was an early form of Homo sapiens, or modern man, who made tools out of bones as well as stones, made clothes out of animal hides, and knew how to make fire.
Homo erectus pekinensis (Peking Man)
Around the 4th or 3rd millennium BC, in the New Stone Age, great changes occurred in the lives of the ancient Chinese. Larger numbers of people began living together at settled places, cultivating land, and domesticating animals. These people made polished stone tools and built shelters in pit dwellings and beehive huts that were covered with reed roofs. Such villages were found mostly in the area of the great bend of the Huang He on the North China Plain. Despite its severe winters, this area was well suited to agriculture. In fact, it closely resembled the other cradles of ancient civilizations, such as the valley of the Nile in Egypt.
The people of this period (3000-2000 BC) also developed the art of making pottery for storing food and drink. Two distinct types have been discovered: red clay pots with swirling black designs in the northwest near Yangshao village, and smooth black pottery in northeast China near Lungshan, a site in Shandong Province.
THE XIA DYNASTY
The Xia Dynasty, 2205 and 1766 BC, is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals, succeeded by the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC–1046 BC). According to Warring States and Han Dynasty texts, the Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun gave his throne to him, and was later defeated and replaced by the Shang . (Photo: Yu the Great, Color on silk at the National Palace Museum)
According to the traditional chronology based upon calculations by Liu Xin, the Xia ruled between 2205 and 1766 BC; according to the chronology based upon the Bamboo Annals, it ruled between 1989 and 1558 BC. The Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project concluded that the Xia existed between 2070 and 1600 BC. The tradition of tracing Chinese political history from heroic early emperors to the Xia to succeeding dynasties comes from the idea of the Mandate of Heaven, in which only one legitimate dynasty can exist at any given time, and was promoted by the Rú (儒) school (including Confucius) in the Eastern Zhou period, later becoming the basic position of imperial historiography and ideology. Although the Xia is an important element in early Chinese history, reliable information on the history of China before 13th century BC can only come from archaeological evidence, thus the concrete existence of the Xia is yet to be proven, despite efforts by Chinese archaeologists to link Xia with archaeological sites.
According to Chinese mythology a Great Flood occurred in an event generally known as Da Yu zhi shui (大禹治水), or Great Yu controls the waters. The earliest text to contain info about the flood is the Shang Shu. (Wikipedia)
The Location of the Xia Dynasty
The Chinese had settled in the Huang He, or Yellow River, valley of northern China by 3000 BC. By then they had pottery, wheels, farms, and silk, but they had not yet discovered writing or the uses of metals.
The Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC) is the first documented era of ancient China. The highly developed hierarchy consisted of a king, nobles, commoners, and slaves. The capital city was Anyang, in north Henan Province. Some scholars have suggested that travelers from Mesopotamia and from Southeast Asia brought agricultural methods to China, which stimulated the growth of ancient Chinese civilization. The Shang peoples were known for their use of jade, bronze, horse-drawn chariots, ancestor worship, and highly organized armies. (Photo - Shang Dynasty Bronze-ware Pot)
Like other ancient peoples, the Chinese developed unique attributes. Their form of writing, developed by 2000 BC, was a complex system of picture writing using forms called ideograms, pictograms, and phonograms. Such early forms of Chinese became known through the discovery by archaeologists of oracle bones, which were bones with writings inscribed on them. They were used for fortune-telling and record keeping in ancient China.
Bone libraries and others: ancient times. The earliest known libraries were connected with palaces and temples. In China, records of the Shang dynasty (1767?-1123? BC) were written on animal bones and tortoise shells. An early library called "The Healing Place of the Soul," in the palace of Egypt's King Ramses II (1304?-1237 BC) at Thebes, consisted of thousands of papyrus scrolls. Among the most important libraries in the ancient Near East was the palace library of Ashurbanipal (668?-627? BC) at Nineveh in Assyria. This early type of national library, collected "for the sake of distant days," consisted of over 30,000 clay tablets. Early librarians were usually priests, teachers, or scholars. The first known Chinese librarian was the philosopher Lao Tse, who was appointed keeper of the royal historical records for the Chou rulers about 550 BC. (Photo - Oracle Bones pit at Yin)
CHOU or ZHOU DYNASTY (1122-221 BC)
The Chou/Zhou Dynasty (1122-221 BC) - Zhou will be used - saw the full flowering of ancient civilization in China. During this period the empire was unified, a middle class arose, and iron was introduced. The sage Confucius (551-479 BC) developed the code of ethics that dominated Chinese thought and culture for the next 25 centuries.
The Zhou conquest of the Shang was given an important meaning by later moralistic interpretations of the event. The Zhou kings, whose chief deity was heaven, called themselves "Sons of Heaven," and their success in overcoming the Shang was seen as the "mandate of heaven." From this time on, Chinese rulers were called "Sons of Heaven" and the Chinese Empire, the "Celestial Empire." The transfer of power from one dynasty to the next was based on the mandate of heaven. (Photo: A jade bi with two dragons, Eastern Zhou Dynasty -The bi 璧 is a form of circular jade artifact from ancient China).
Zhou rule in China continued for nearly nine centuries. During that time great advances were made. The long period of the Zhou Dynasty is divided into two subperiods: Western (Early) and Eastern (Later) Zhou, named for the locations of the capitals.
Western (Early) Zhou (1122-771 BC).
Western Zhou territory covered most of the North China Plain. It was divided into about 200 princely domains. The Zhou political system was similar to the feudal system of medieval Europe. The Zhou people combined hunting and agriculture for a living. Associating the success or failure of crops with the disposition of nature, the people prayed to numerous nature gods for good harvests. One of the ruler's duties was to placate heaven and Earth for all people. Failure to do so deprived him of the right to rule. Such beliefs are still widely held today among the Chinese people. Ancestor worship also developed during the Zhou period and has been important in East Asia for the last 2,000 years. (Photo - Embroidered silk gauze garment from a 4th century BC, Zhou era tomb at Mashan, Hubei province).
The Zhou were invaded in 771 BC by a less cultured, more militaristic people from the northwest. The capital was moved east to Luoyang. From this point on, the dates are considered reliable. The manner in which the Western Chou fell followed a pattern that was repeated throughout Chinese history. People who led a nomadic, or wandering, life in the northern steppe land would invade settled agricultural communities to solve periodic food shortages.
The conflict between the nomads and settled farmers has been a continuing feature of Chinese history. Settled Chinese called the nomads "barbarians," a term applied to all peoples of non-Chinese culture up to the 20th century. From this concept an idea developed that China was the center of the civilized world, hence the traditional name "Middle Kingdom/Country," referring to China.
Eastern (Later) Zhou (771-221 BC).
The Eastern Zhou is also two periods. The first is Ch'un Ch'iu, the Spring and Autumn period (771-481 BC), named for a book credited to Confucius. The second is Chan-kuo, the Warring States period (481-221 BC).
In the Spring and Autumn period, iron replaced bronze for tools and weapons. The use of iron led to an increase in agricultural output, growth of the population, and warfare among the states. By the 4th century BC the number of states had shrunk to seven. In 256 BC the princes of those states assumed the title of king, stopped paying homage to the Zhou king, and continued to fight for supremacy. The strongest of the seven states was Ch'in. (Photo - Silk painting of a man railing a dragon, 6th century BC.)
The disruption caused by this prolonged warfare had a number of long-range consequences. One was the rise of a new social group, the scholars (shi). They were forerunners of the scholar-officials of the Chinese Empire, who became the most influential group in China. In the Later Zhou period, however, they were a relatively small group of learned people. Often wandering from state to state in search of permanent employment, the shi worked as tutors to the children of feudal princes and as advisers to various state governments. The most famous of these scholarly shi was Confucius.
The Warring States Period
The Warring States Period 战国时代 Zhànguó Shídài, also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou Dynasty ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period. During these periods, the Chinese sovereign (king of the Zhou Dynasty) was merely a figurehead.
The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States, a work compiled early in the Han Dynasty. The date for the beginning of the Warring States Period is disputed. While it is frequently cited as 475 BC (following the Spring and Autumn Period), 403 BC, the date of the tripartite Partition of Jin, is also considered as the beginning of the period.
The Seven Warring States were: Qin in the west, in the lower Wei River valley "within the passes"; Chu, on the southern frontier around the middle Yangzi River; Qi to the east in Shandong; Yan, in the far northeast near Beijing; and in the center, from south to north, Han, Wei, and Zhao.
Military History of the Period
At this time Chinese civilization was based in the Yellow River basin and was slowly expanding south to the Yangtze River.
- Qin (west): The State of Qin was in the far west, in the Wei River valley within its natural fortress.
- The Three Jins (center): Northeast of Qin, on the Shanxi plateau, were the three fragments of Jin: Zhao (north), Wei (center) and Han (south). Wei was the strongest and Han held the east-west stretch of the Yellow River that was the military gateway into Qin. The three states tended to expand eastward.
- Qi (east): On the highlands and peninsula of Shandong, was the wealthy State of Qi.
- Chu (south): The State of Chu was in the south along the Yangtze. It had the largest land area but much of this was undeveloped frontier.
- Yan (northeast): Near Beijing was the relatively weak State of Yan. Late in the period Yan pushed northeast and began to occupy the Liaodong Peninsula.
- Others: On the southeast coast near Shanghai was the minor State of Yue. In the far southwest in Sichuan were the States of Ba and Shu. These were non-Zhou states that were conquered by Qin late in the period. Between Shandong and Shanxi (literally 'Mountain-east' and 'Mountain-west'), that is, between Qi and the Three Jins, was the central plain with its dense population and many small states.
CH'IN EMPIRE or QIN (221-206 BC)
After nearly 900 years, the Chou Dynasty came to an end when the state of Ch'in, the strongest of the seven surviving states, unified China and established the first empire in 221 BC. The Ch'in empire did not last long, but it left two enduring legacies: the name China and the idea and structure of the empire. This heritage outlasted the Ch'in Dynasty itself by more than 2,000 years.
The first Ch'in emperor was called Ch'in Shih Huang Ti. The title of emperor was used for the first time in Chinese history to set the Ch'in ruler apart--as the ruler of the unified land--from the kings, the heads of the earlier, smaller states. The construction of massive palaces and the ceremony of the court further enhanced the power of the emperor by inspiring awe in the people. (Photo - Marble statue of Qin Shihuang ).
A centralized bureaucracy replaced the old feudal system. The empire was divided into provinces and counties, which were governed by centrally appointed governors and magistrates. The former ruling families who had inherited their places in the aristocracy were uprooted and forced to live in the capital of Xianyang. Other centralizing policies included census taking and standardization of the writing system and weights and measures.
The Ch'in army conducted massive military campaigns to complete the unification of the empire and expand its territory. The Ch'in empire stretched from the Mongolian plateau in the north to Vietnam in the south. As with rulers before and after him, the first emperor was preoccupied with defending his territory against northern nomads. After waging several successful campaigns, the emperor ordered the building of the wall of "ten thousand li" (a li is a Chinese unit of distance) to protect the empire. This task involved connecting the separate walls that were built by former northern states to form the famous Great Wall. The Ten Thousand Li Wall, as it is known in China, is 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) long, from 15 to 50 feet (5 to 15 meters) high, and from 15 to 25 feet (5 to 8 meters) wide. Although closely linked with the first ruler of the Ch'in Empire, the wall as it stands today dates mainly from the later Ming Dynasty. (Photo - an Edict in Bronze from the reign of the 2nd Ch'in Emperor)
Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's harsh rule provoked much opposition. The emperor feared the scholars most. He had them rounded up and put them to death or sent them into exile. Many went into hiding. Moreover, all books, except technical ones, were confiscated and burned. In the last years of his life, Ch'in Shih Huang Ti became fearful of threats on his life and lived in complete secrecy. He also became obsessed with obtaining immortality. He died in 210 BC in Shandong Province, far from the capital of Xianyang, during one of his long quests to find the elixir of life.
The Ch'in empire disintegrated rapidly after the death of the first emperor. The legitimate heir was killed in a palace intrigue, and a less able prince was put on the throne. Conditions worsened throughout the empire. In 209 BC, rebellions erupted all over China. Two men had the largest following. Hsiang Yu was a general of aristocratic background; Liu Pang was a minor official from a peasant family. By 206 BC rebels had subdued the Ch'in army and destroyed the capital. The struggle between Hsiang Yu and Liu Pang continued for the next four years, however, until Liu Pang emerged as the victor in 202 BC. Taking the title of Kao Tsu, High Progenitor, he established the Han Dynasty.
THE HAN DYNASTY (202 BC-AD 220)
The four-century-long Han rule is divided into two periods: the Earlier or Western Han and the Later or Eastern Han. In between these two was the short-lived Xin Dynasty (AD 9-23).
Earlier (Western) Han (202 BC-AD 9)
The Han Kao Tsu preserved many features of the Ch'in imperial system, such as the administrative division of the country and the central bureaucracy. But the Han rulers lifted the Ch'in ban on philosophical and historical writings. Han Kao Tsu called for the services of men of talent, not only to restore the destroyed classics but to serve as officials in the government. From that time, the Chinese Empire was governed by a body of officials theoretically selected on merit. Such a practice has few parallels elsewhere at this early date in human history. (Photo - Bronze Statuette from the period).
In 124 BC, during the reign of Wu Ti (140-87, the Martial Emperor), an imperial university was set up for the study of Confucian classics. The university recruited talented students, and the state supported them. Starting with 50 when the university first opened, the number of government-supported students reached 30,000 by the end of the Han Dynasty. Emperor Wu also established Confucianism as the official doctrine of the state. This designation lasted until the end of the Chinese Empire.
The Early Han faced two major difficulties: invasions by the barbarian Huns and the influence of the imperial consort families. In the Han Dynasty, the Huns (known as Hsiung-nu by the Chinese) threatened the expanding Chinese Empire from the north. Starting in Wu Ti's reign, costly, almost century-long campaigns had to be carried out to establish Chinese sovereignty along the northern and northwestern borders. Wu Ti also waged aggressive campaigns to incorporate northern Korea in 108 BC and northern Annam in 111 BC into the Han empire. The Early Han's other difficulty started soon after the first emperor's death. The widowed Empress Lu dominated politics and almost succeeded in taking the throne for her family. Thereafter, families of the empresses exerted great political influence. In AD 9 Wang Mang, a nephew of the empress, seized the throne and founded a new dynasty of Xin. (Photo - Coins from the period).
Wang Mang's overambitious reform program alienated him from the landlords. At the same time the peasants, disappointed with Wang's inability to push through the reform, rose in rebellion. In AD 17 a rebel group in Shandong painted their faces red (hence their name, Red Eyebrows) and adopted religious symbols, a practice later repeated by peasants who rebelled in times of extreme difficulty. Wang Mang's force was defeated, and he was killed in AD 23.
Later (Eastern) Han (AD 23-220)
The new ruler who restored peace and order was a member of the house of Han, the original Liu family. His title was Kuang Wu Ti, "Shining Martial Emperor," from AD 25 to 57. During the Later Han, which lasted another 200 years, a concerted but unsuccessful effort was made to restore the glory of the former Han. The Later Han scored considerable success in recovering lost territories, however. Sent to befriend the tribes on the northwestern frontier in AD 73, a great diplomat-general, Pan Ch'ao, eventually led an army of 70,000 almost to the borders of eastern Europe. Pan Ch'ao returned to China in 101 and brought back information about the Roman Empire. The Romans also knew about China, but they thought of it only as the land where silk was produced. (Ceramic from the period).
The Later Han period was particularly plagued with evils caused by eunuchs, castrated males recruited from the lower classes to serve as bodyguards for the imperial harem. Coming from uneducated and poor backgrounds, they were ruthlessly ambitious once they were placed within reach of power. Toward the end of the Later Han, power struggles between the eunuchs and the landlord-officials were prolonged and destructive. Peasant rebellions of the Taoist-leaning Yellow Turbans in 184 and the Five Pecks of Rice in 190 led to the rise of generals who massacred over 2,000 eunuchs, destroyed the capital, and one after another became dictators. By 207 General Ts'ao Ts'ao had emerged as dictator in the north. When he died in 220 his son removed the powerless emperor and established the kingdom of Wei. The Eastern Han came to an end, and the empire was divided into the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu Han, and Wu. The pattern of the rise and fall of Han was to be repeated in later periods. This characteristic came to be known as the dynastic cycle.
The Chinese show their pride in Han accomplishments by calling themselves the Han people. Philosophies and institutions that began in the Chou and Ch'in periods reached maturity under the Han. During Han times, the Chinese distinguished themselves in making scientific discoveries, many of which were not known to Westerners until centuries later. The Chinese were most advanced in astronomy. They invented sundials and water clocks, divided the day equally into ten and then into 12 periods, devised the lunar calendar that continued to be used until 1912, and recorded sunspots regularly. In mathematics, the Chinese were the first to use the place value system, whereby the value of a component of a number is indicated by its placement. Other innovations were of a more practical nature: wheelbarrows, locks to control water levels in streams and canals, and compasses.
The Han Chinese were especially distinguished in the field of art. The famous sculpture of the "Han flying horse" and the carving of the jade burial suit found in Han period tombs are only two superb examples. The technique of making lacquer ware was also highly developed. The Chinese are proudest of the tradition of historical writing that began in the Han period. Ssu-ma Ch'ien (145?-85? BC) was grand historian (an office that combined the duties of court recorder and astronomer) during the time of Wu Ti. His `Historical Records', which took ten years to complete, established the pattern and style followed by subsequent histories. In the Later Han, the historical tradition was continued by the Pan family. Pan Piao, the father, started to bring Ssu-ma Ch'ien's `Records' up to date. The work was continued by his son Pan Ku (twin brother of the general Pan Ch'ao) and was completed by his daughter Pan Chao, China's earliest and most famous woman scholar. Unlike Ssu-ma Ch'ien, the Pan family limited their work to 230 years of the Early Han. This was the first of the dynastic histories, subsequently written for every dynasty. Pan Chao also wrote a highly influential work on the education of women, `Lessons for Women'. `Lessons' emphasized the "virtues" of women, which restricted women's activities. The Confucianism that the Han Dynasty restored differed from the original teachings of Confucius. The leading Han philosophers, Tung Chung-shu and others, used principles derived from the early Chinese philosophy of nature to interpret the ancient texts. The Chinese philosophy of nature explained the workings of the universe by the alternating forces of yin and yang--dark and light--and the five elements: earth, wood, metal, fire, and water. The Han period was marked by a broad eclecticism. Many Han emperors favored Taoism, especially the Taoist idea of immortality. ( Photo - A silk banner from Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province).
The Xin Dynasty
The Xin was a Chinese dynasty (although strictly speaking it had only one emperor) which lasted from AD 9 to 23. It followed the Western Han Dynasty and preceded the Eastern Han Dynasty.
The sole emperor of the Xin Dynasty, Wang Mang (王莽), was the nephew of Grand Empress Dowager Wang Zhengjun. After the death of her step-grandson Emperor Ai in 1 BC, Wang Mang rose to power. After several years of cultivating a personality cult, he finally proclaimed himself emperor in AD 9. However, while a creative scholar and politician, he was an incompetent ruler, and his capital Chang'an was besieged by peasant rebels in AD 23. He died in the siege, and the Han Dynasty was restored by descendants of the former imperial clan. (Photo: Wang Mang Wikipedia)
Coins from the Xin Dynasty
THE THREE KINGDOMS PERIOD
The Three Kingdoms period 三国时代 Sānguó shídài was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the conquest of the state Wu by the Jin Dynasty in 280. However, many Chinese historians and laymen extend the starting point of this period back to the Yellow Turban Rebellion in 184.
The Three Kingdoms were Wei (魏), Shu (蜀), and Wu (吳). To further distinguish these states from other historical Chinese states of the same name, historians add a relevant character: Wei is also known as Cao Wei (曹魏), Shu is also known as Shu Han (蜀漢), and Wu is also known as Dong Wu or Eastern Wu (東吳). The term "Three Kingdoms" itself is something of a mistranslation, since each state was eventually headed not by kings, but by an emperor who claimed legitimate succession from the Han Dynasty. Although the translation "Three Empires" is more contextually accurate, the term "Three Kingdoms" has become standard among sinologists.
The earlier, "unofficial" part of the period, from 184 to 220, was marked by chaotic infighting between warlords in various parts of China. The middle part of the period, from 220 and 263, was marked by a more militarily stable arrangement between three rival states, Wei, Shu, and Wu. The later part of this period was marked by the collapse of the tripartite situation: first the conquest of Shu by Wei (263), then the overthrow of Wei by the Jin Dynasty (265), and the destruction of Wu by Jin (280).
Although relatively short, this historical period has been greatly romanticised in the cultures of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. It has been celebrated and popularised in operas, folk stories, novels and in more recent times, films, television, and video games. The best known of these is Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a Ming Dynasty historical novel based on events in the Three Kingdoms period. The authoritative historical record of the era is Chen Shou's Records of the Three Kingdoms, along with Pei Songzhi's later annotations of the text.
The Three Kingdoms period was one of the bloodiest in Chinese history. A population census during the late Eastern Han Dynasty reported a population of approximately 50 million, while a population census during the early Western Jin Dynasty reported a population of approximately 16 million. However, the Jin Dynasty's census was far less complete than the Han census, so these figures are in question.
Technology advanced significantly during this period. Shu chancellor Zhuge Liang invented the wooden ox, suggested to be an early form of the wheelbarrow, and improved on the repeating crossbow. Wei mechanical engineer Ma Jun is considered by many to be the equal of his predecessor Zhang Heng. He invented a hydraulic-powered, mechanical puppet theatre designed for Emperor Ming of Wei, square-pallet chain pumps for irrigation of gardens in Luoyang, and the ingenious design of the South Pointing Chariot, a non-magnetic directional compass operated by differential gears.
|Eastern Han Dynasty, 156||10,679,600||56,486,856|
|Shu Han, 221||200,000||900,000|
|Shu Han, 263||280,000||1,082,000||At Shu's demise, the population contained 102,000 armed soldiers and 40,000 various officials.|
|Eastern Wu, 238||520,000||2,567,000|
|Eastern Wu, 280||530,000||2,535,000||At Wu's demise, the population had 32,000 officials, 230,000 soldiers, and 5,000 imperial concubines.|
|Cao Wei, 260||663,423||4,432,881|
|Western Jin Dynasty, 280||2,495,804||16,163,863||After reuniting China, the Jin Dynasty's population was greatest around this time.|
THE PERIOD OF DISUNITY (220-581)
After the fall of the Later Han, the Chinese Empire remained divided for three and a half centuries. The first half-century began with the domination of the Three Kingdoms: Wei under the Ts'ao family in the north, Shu Han under Liu Pei in the southwest, and Wu under Sun Ch'uan in the southeast. Invaders from the north soon overran the kingdoms and set up their own states, but the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), established by one of the barbarian tribes, the Toba, was the only one to last. Four dynasties established by the Chinese ruled in the south during the 4th and 5th centuries. The Three Kingdoms period was made famous by the novel `Romance of the Three Kingdoms', which glamorized the period as an age of chivalry.
THE JIN DYNASTY
The Jīn Dynasty (1115–1234), also known as the Jurchen Dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan (完顏 Wányán) clan of the Jurchens, the ancestors of the Manchus who established the Qing Dynasty some 500 years later. The name is sometimes written as Jinn to differentiate it from an earlier Jìn Dynasty of China whose name is spelled identically in the Roman alphabet. (Photo: Jade Ornament)
The Jin Dynasty was founded in what would become northern Manchuria by the Jurchen tribal chieftain Wanyan Aguda (完顏阿骨打) in 1115. The Jurchens' early rival was the Liao Dynasty, which had held sway over northern China, including Manchuria and part of the Mongol region for several centuries. In 1121, the Jurchens entered into the Alliance on the Sea with the Song Dynasty and agreed to jointly invade the Liao. While the Song armies faltered, the Jurchens succeeded in driving the Liao to Central Asia. In 1125, after the death of Aguda, the Jin broke the alliance with the Song and invaded North China. (Photo: A wooden Bodhisattva)
On January 9, 1127, Jin forces ransacked Kaifeng, capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, capturing both Emperor Qinzong, and his father, Emperor Huizong, who had abdicated in panic in the face of Jin forces. Following the fall of Kaifeng, Song forces under the leadership of the succeeding Southern Song Dynasty continued to fight for over a decade with Jin forces, eventually signing the Treaty of Shaoxing in 1141, calling for the cessation of all Song land north of the Huai River to the Jin and the execution of Song General Yue Fei in return for peace. (Photo: The Chengling Pagoda, Hebei, built 1161 - 1189AD Wikipedia)
The Fenyang Cemetery of Jin Dynasty
THE SIXTEEN KINGDOMS
The Sixteen Kingdoms, or less commonly the Sixteen States, were a collection of numerous short-lived sovereign states in China proper and its neighboring areas from 304 to 439 AD after the retreat of the Jin Dynasty (265-420) to South China and before the establishment of the Northern Dynasties. Originally, the term was first introduced by Cui Hong in the lost historical record, Shiliuguo Chunqiu (the Spring and Autumn Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms) and restricted to sixteen kingdoms of this era, namely the states of Han Zhao, Later Zhao, Cheng Han, Former Liang, Later Liang, Northern Liang, Western Liáng, Southern Liang, Former Yan, Later Yan, Northern Yan, Southern Yan, Former Qin, Later Qin and Western Qin and Xia. The term has been broadened to include all sovereignties from 304 to 439. These do not all exist through the entire period.
A less used term, the Period of Sixteen Kingdoms represents this turbulent era from 304 to 439.
Almost all rulers of the kingdoms were part of the Wu Hu ethnicity and claimed to be the emperors and wangs (kings). The Han Chinese founded the four states: Northern Yan, Western Liang, Former Liang and the state of Wei. Six Chinese rulers of the Former Liang remained titularly under the government of the Jin Dynasty. The Northern Wei Dynasty is not counted as one of the Sixteen Kingdoms even though it was founded during the Period.
The Sixteen Kingdoms Period, also known as the Wu Hu period, was one of the most devastating periods in Chinese history. Following a long period of Chinese dominance since the Qin Dynasty, the Wu Hu uprising took over much of the Chinese heartland. It did not end until Jin reclaimed much of central China while Northern Wei took over the areas north of the Yellow River.
In 304 AD, following the outbreak of civil war in the ruling Jin Dynasty in China, the Wu Hu tribes, led by the Xiongnu, rose up against Chinese rule. By 311 AD, with the Disaster of Yongjia, the Wu Hu tribes under the Xiongnu regime of Han then dominated the North China plain. By 317 AD, Jin forces had been completely driven out of North China. An attempt to recover the Central China plain under general Zu Tì (祖逖） was initially successful in recovering all of Henan and Shantung but ended with Zu's death in 321 AD.
Han-Zhao and Later Zhao
Although the Xiongnu regime of Han (which was changed to Former Zhao) was dominant in North China, the Jie general Shi Le challenged the Xiongnu's dominance. In 329 AD, Shi le overthrew Former Zhao and reunified North China. Jie rule was extremely brutal, reportedly even using many Chinese girls as provisions for the army. Later Zhao's rule finally ended with the ascension of Ran Min in 350 AD.
Rise of Ran Wei
Ran Min, a Chinese, restored native rule to China in 350 AD. However, his rule was opposed by the Jie and other Wu Hu. In response, Ran Min ordered that thousands of Wu Hu be killed. Attempts to overthrow Ran Wei by the Jie and other Wu Hu tribes were largely defeated until the Xianbei invaded Ran Wei in 352 AD and defeated Ran Min.
Former Yan and Former Qin
The regime of Former Yan founded by the Xianbei then proceeded to dominate much of North China. Meanwhile, Di tribesmen conquered the region around Shanxi and formed the regime of Former Qin. In 370 AD, Former Qin invaded and conquered Former Yan, unifying most of North China. By 376 AD, after two campaigns against Former Liang and the state of Dai, Former Qin ruler Fu Jian reunified all of North China. The independence of the last Chinese state, the Jin Dynasty, was now in danger.
Huan Wen's expeditions
The Jin general Huan Wen was determined to reclaim North China for the Chinese Jin Dynasty. Between 346 AD and 369 AD, Huan Wen launched a series of expeditions against the Wu Hu states in the North. Nevertheless, because of lack of support from the Jin court, Huan Wen did not succeed.
Collapse of Former Qin
Attempting to capitalize on his success and conquer all of China, Fu Jian then proceeded to invade the territory of the Jin Dynasty, the last Han Chinese state whose conquest would have make Fu Jian the first non-Chinese ruler of China. However, the Jin army rallied and the Chinese forces scored a massive success on the Fei river, where some 300,000 Former Qin troops were routed by an army of 80,000 Jin soldiers. Former Qin then collapsed. After the battle, Jin forces reclaimed much of Henan and Shantung.
Liu Yu's expeditions
In 406 AD, the Jin general Liu Yu began a series of campaigns aimed at reclaiming the Chinese heartland. These campaigns were extraordinarily successful and by 416 AD Jin forces had reclaimed the two capitals of Luoyang and Chang'an which they had lost a century earlier. However, Chang'an was lost in 417 AD. Nevertheless, Liu Yu's success meant that all Chinese territory up to the Yellow river was now reclaimed, though the North was now under the control of Xianbei Northern Wei.
THE SOUTHERN & NORTHERN DYNASTIES
The Southern and Northern Dynasties 南北朝 Nánběicháo was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589 AD. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spreading of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism. The period saw large-scale migration of Han Chinese people to the lands south of the Yangtze River.
During this period the process of sinicization accelerated among the non-Chinese arrivals in the north and among the aboriginal people in the south. This process was also accompanied by the increasing popularity of Buddhism (introduced into China in the 1st century AD) in both north and south China, along with Daoism gaining influence from the outline of Buddhist scriptures (with two essential Daoist canons written during this period). Although multiple story towers such as guard towers and residential apartments existed in previous periods, during this period the distinct Chinese pagoda tower (for storing Buddhist scriptures) evolved from the stupa, the latter originating from Buddhist traditions of protecting sutras in ancient India.
There were notable technological advances during this period. With the invention of the stirrup during the earlier Western Jin Dynasty, heavy cavalry became standard in combat. Advances in medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and cartography are also noted by historians. The famous Chinese mathematician and astronomer Zu Chongzhi (429–500 AD) belonged to this age, an intellectual and social product of the elite culture shaped and developed in southern China during this period of time.
Northern Wei (386–534 AD)
Eastern Wei (534–550 AD)
Western Wei (535–557 AD)
Northern Qi (550–577 AD)
Northern Zhou (557–581 AD)
THE SUI DYNASTY (581-618)
The prolonged period of disunity finally ended when a general from the northwest united China by establishing the new dynasty of Sui. A second great period of imperial unity was begun. The relationship of the Sui to the succeeding T'ang Dynasty was much like that of the Ch'in to the Han. It served as the unifying foundation on which its successor could build. The first Sui emperor, Wen Ti, introduced a series of economic reforms, such as reduction of the peasants' taxes, a careful census for equitable tax collection, and restoration of the equal allocation system used in the Northern Wei. Every taxable male received a grant of land, part of which was returnable when he ceased to be a taxpayer at age 60 and part of which he could pass on to his heirs. He also revived the Han system of examinations based on Confucian classics. (Photo - Strolling About in Spring, by Zhan Ziqian, Sui era artist).
Sui Wen Ti's premature death might have been caused by his ambitious son Yang Ti, whose grandiose projects and military campaigns ultimately led to the Sui's downfall. Some of his projects were productive, especially the construction of the Grand Canal, which linked up the Huang, Huai, and Yangtze rivers and connected north and south China.
Yang Ti's overly ambitious scheme of expanding his empire led to disastrous wars against Korea. After a series of futile expeditions, the Chinese army of over a million was defeated and forced to flee. In 618, Yang Ti was assassinated in an army coup; one of the coup leaders, Li Shih-min, installed his father as emperor, founding the T'ang Dynasty. After about a decade, during which he was able to secure his father's abdication, he took the throne himself in 626 as the emperor T'ai Tsung.
THE T'ANG DYNASTY (618-907)
The T'ang emperors set up a political system in which the emperor was supreme and government officials were selected on the bases of merit and education. The early T'ang rulers applied the equal allocation system rigorously to bring about a greater equity in taxation and to insure the flow of taxes to the government. A census was taken every three years to enforce the system, which also involved drafting people to do labor. These measures led to an agricultural surplus and the development of units of uniform value for the principal commodities, two of the most important prerequisites for the growth of commerce and cities. (Photo - The Diamond Sutra, printed in 868, the world's first published book using woodblock printing).
The T'ang capital of Chang'an was one of the greatest commercial and cosmopolitan cities in the world at that time. Like most capitals of China, Chang'an was composed of three parts: the palace, the imperial city, and the outer city, separated from each other by mighty walls.
The T'ang was a period of great imperial expansion, which reached its greatest height in the first half of the 8th century. At that time, Chinese control was recognized by people from Tibet and Central Asia in the west to Mongolia, Manchuria (now the Northeast region of China), and Korea in the north and Annam in the south. (Photo - Emperor TaiZong, 626 - 649, receives Ludongzan, ambassador of Tibet, at his court in 641)
The An Lu-shan rebellion
Most of the T'ang accomplishments were attained during the first century of the dynasty's rule, through the early part of Emperor Hsuan Tsung's long reign from 712 to 756. However, late in his reign he neglected government affairs to indulge in his love of art and study. This led to the rise of viceroys, commanders responsible for military and civil affairs in the regions. An Lu-shan was a powerful viceroy commanding the northwest border area. He had both connections at the imperial court and hidden imperial ambitions. In 755 he rose in rebellion. (Photo - A Tang sancai-glazed dish, only the Emperor was allowed to use the colour yellow).
The emperor fled the capital with an ill-equipped army. These troops soon rebelled and forced the emperor to abdicate in favor of his son.
The new emperor raised a new army to fight the rebels. An Lu-shan was assassinated in 757, but the war dragged on until 763. Afterward, the Chinese Empire virtually disintegrated once again. The provinces remained under the control of various regional commanders. The dynasty continued to linger on for another century, but the T'ang empire never fully recovered the central authority, prosperity, and peace of its first century.
The most serious problem of the last century of T'ang was the rise of great landlords who were exempt from taxation. Unable to pay the exorbitant taxes collected twice a year after the An Lu-shan rebellion, peasants would place themselves under the protection of a landlord or become bandits. Peasant uprisings, beginning with the revolt under the leadership of Huang Ch'ao in the 870s, left much of central China in ruins.
In 881 Huang Ch'ao's rebels, now numbering over 600,000 people, destroyed the capital, forcing the imperial court to move east to Luoyang. Another rebel leader founded a new dynasty, called Later Liang, at Kaifeng in Henan Province in 907, but he was unable to unify all China under his rule. This second period of disunity lasted only half a century. Once again, however, China was divided between north and south, with five dynasties in the north and ten kingdoms in the south.
T'ang culture. Buddhist influence in art, especially in sculpture, was strong during the T'ang period. Fine examples of Buddhist sculpture are preserved in rock temples, such as those at Yongang and Longmen in northwest China. The invention of printing and improvements in papermaking led to the printing of a whole set of Buddhist sutras (discourses of the Buddha) by 868. By the beginning of the 11th century all of the Confucian classics and the Taoist canon had been printed. In secular literature, the T'ang is especially well known for poetry. The great T'ang poets such as Li Po and Tu Fu were nearly all disillusioned officials. (Photo - Leshan Giant Buddha, begun 713, completed 803, 71m high).
The T'ang period marked the beginnings of China's early technological advancement over other civilizations in the fields of shipbuilding and firearms development. Both reached new heights in the succeeding dynasty of Sung.
Papermaking; Firearms By the 13th century papermaking spread throughout Europe. Paper was a Chinese invention. It had been adopted by the Persians and then by the Arabs, who brought the art to Europe. (Photo -Mural in Prince Li Xian's tomb where Wu Zetian, China's only female Emperor, is also buried.
Powder (not gunpowder, because guns were not yet known) and fireworks rockets were introduced into Europe in the 1200s. They had been invented in China some years earlier.
The earliest mention of firearms is in a Dutch chronicle dated 1313. It states that firearms were invented in Germany. The first picture of a primitive cannon can be found in an English manuscript dated 1326.
Eighty Seven Celestials, draft painting of a fresco by Wu Daozi (c. 685-758)
THE SECOND ZHOU 690 - 705
Wu Zetian 武则天 Wǔ Zétiān (624 – 705), personal name Wu Zhao (武曌), often referred to as Tian Hou (天后) during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu (武后, Wǔ Hòu) in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant (Huangdi). As de facto ruler of China first through her husband and her sons from 665 to 690, not unprecedented in Chinese history, she then broke all precedents when she founded her own dynasty in 690, the Zhou (周) (interrupting the Tang Dynasty), and ruled personally under the name Sacred and Divine Empress Regnant (聖神皇帝) and variations thereof from 690 to 705. Her rise and reign has been criticized harshly by Confucian historians but has been viewed in a different light after the 1950s.
See Kaixin's - Mu Dan Hua
THE FIVE DYNASTIES & TEN KINGDOMS PERIOD - Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代十国 Wǔdài Shíguó was between 907–960/979 AD and an era of political upheaval in China, between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the founding of the Song Dynasty. During this period, five dynasties quickly succeeded one another in the north, and more than 12 independent states were established, mainly in the south. However, only ten are traditionally listed, hence the era's name, "Ten Kingdoms." This era also led to the founding of the Liao Dynasty.
The Five Dynasties:
- Later Liang Dynasty (June 1, 907–923)
- Later Tang Dynasty (923–936)
- Later Jin Dynasty (936–947)
- Later Han Dynasty (947–951 or 979, depending on whether Northern Han is considered part of the dynasty)
- Later Zhou Dynasty (951–960)
The Ten Kingdoms: Wu (907-937), Wuyue (907-978), Min (909-945), Chu (907-951), Southern Han (917-971), Former Shu (907-925), Later Shu (934-965), Jingnan (924-963), Southern Tang (937-975), Northern Han (951-979).
THE LIAO DYNASTY 907 - 1125
The Liao Dynasty, 907-1125, also known as the Khitan Empire (契丹國 pinyin: Qìdān Guó, Khitan: Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur), was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper. It was founded by the Yelü clan (Chinese: 耶律 Yēlǜ, Khitan language: written i.ra.u.ud, spoken Yaruud) of the Khitan people in the same year as Tang Dynasty collapsed (907), even though its first ruler, Yelü Abaoji, did not declare an era name until 916.
Although it was originally known as the Empire of the Khitan, the Emperor Yelü Ruan officially adopted the name "Liao" (formally "Great Liao") in 947. The name "Liao" was dropped in 983, but readopted in 1066. Another name for China in English, Cathay, is derived from the name Khitan. This is also the origin of the Russian word for China, Китай or Kitay, and that of several other East European languages.
(Photo: glazed stoneware sculpture of a Buddhist Luohan)
Wooden carving of Guan Yin (907 -1125 AD)
The Niujie Mosque built in Beijing during the Liao Dynasty
THE SUNG or SONG DYNASTY (960-1279)
Over 300 years of Sung history is divided into the two periods of Northern and Southern Sung. Because of the barbarian occupation of northern China the second half of the Sung rule was confined to the area south of the Huai River. (Photo - painting of a scholar 11th century).
Northern Sung (960-1126). General Chao K'uang-yin, later known as Sung T'ai Tsu, was said to have been coerced to become emperor in order to unify China. Wary of power-hungry commanders, Sung T'ai Tsu made the military into a national army under his direct control. Under his less capable successors, however, the military increasingly lost prestige. Unfortunately for China, the weakening of the military coincided with the rise of successive strong nomad nations on the borders.
In contrast to the military's loss of prestige, the civil service rose in dignity. The examination system that had been restored in the Sui and T'ang was further elaborated and regularized. Selection examinations were held every three years at the district, provincial, and metropolitan levels.
Only 200 out of thousands of applicants were granted the jinshi degree, the highest degree, and appointed to government posts. From this time on, civil servants became China's most envied elite, replacing the hereditary nobles and landlords.
Sung dominion extended over only part of the territories of earlier Chinese empires. The Khitans controlled the northeastern territories, and the Xi Xia (Western Xia) controlled the northwestern territories. Unable to recover these lands, the Sung emperors were compelled to make peace with the Khitans in 1004 and with the Hsi Hsia in 1044. Massive payments to the barbarians under the peace terms depleted the state treasury, caused hardship to taxpaying peasants, and gave rise to a conflict in the court among advocates of war, those who favored peace, and reformers. (Photo - Star Chart from Su Song's Xin Yi Fa Yao published in 1092).
In 1069 Emperor Shen Tsung appointed Wang An-shih as chief minister. Wang proposed a number of sweeping reforms based on the classical text of the `Rites of Chou'. Many of his "new laws" were actually revivals of earlier policies, but officials and landlords opposed his reforms. When the emperor and Wang died within a year of each other, the new laws were withdrawn. For the next several decades, until the fall of the Northern Sung in 1126, the reformers and antireformers alternated in power, creating havoc and turmoil in government.
In an effort to regain territory lost to the Khitans, the Sung sought an alliance with the newly powerful Juchens from Manchuria. Once the alliance had expelled the Khitans, however, the Juchens turned on the Sung and occupied the capital of Kaifeng. The Juchens established the dynasty of Chin, a name meaning "gold," which lasted from 1115 to 1234, in the north. They took the emperor and his son prisoner, along with 3,000 others, and ordered them to be held in Manchuria. (Photo - Astronomical Clock Tower from Su Song's book, 1092).
Southern Sung (1126-1279). Another imperial son fled south and settled in 1127 at Hangzhou, where he resumed the Sung rule as the emperor Kao Tsung. The Sung retained control south of the Huai River, where they ruled for another one and a half centuries.
Although militarily weak and limited in area, the Southern Sung represented one of China's most brilliant periods of cultural, commercial, maritime, and technological development. Despite the loss of the north, trade continued to expand, enabling a commercial revolution to take place in the 13th century. Cut off from the traditional overland trade routes, Sung merchants turned to the ocean with the aid of such improvements as compasses and huge oceangoing ships called junks. The development of a paper money economy stimulated commercial growth and kept it going.
End of the Southern Sung. While the Sung ruling class and the imperial court indulged themselves in art and luxurious living in the urban centers, the latest nomad empire arose in the north. The formidable Mongol armies, conquerors of Eurasia as far west as eastern Europe and of Korea in the east, descended on the Southern Sung. (Photo - Map of the Tracks of Yu Gong, featuring a graduated scale of 100 Li for each rectangular grid, 1137).
Culture in the Sung period
The Sung period was noted for landscape painting, which in time came to be considered the highest form of classical art. The city-dwelling people of the Sung period romanticized nature. This romanticism, combined with a mystical, Taoist approach to nature and a Buddhist-inspired contemplative mood, was reflected in landscape paintings showing people dwarfed by nature. (Photo - Pillow 12th Century).
In philosophy, the trend away from Buddhism and back to Confucianism, which had begun in the late T'ang, continued. Pure and simple restoration of the ancient teaching was impossible, however, because Confucianism had been challenged by Buddhism and Taoism. Confucianism needed to explain humanity and the universe as well as to regulate human relations within society. In the late T'ang and early Sung, several strands of Confucianism emerged. The great scholar Chu Hsi synthesized elements of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. This reconstituted philosophy became known as Neo-Confucianism, and it was the orthodox state doctrine until the end of the imperial system. Chu Hsi's philosophy was one that stressed dualism, the goodness of human nature, and self-cultivation by education through the continuing "investigation of things."
The Sung scholars and historians also attempted to synthesize history. Ssu-ma Kuang made the first effort at producing a comprehensive history since Ssu-ma Ch'ien of the Han. In 294 chapters, he wrote a chronological account of the period from 403 BC to AD 959, which was abridged by Chu Hsi in the 12th century. Another first in Sung scholarship was the creation of encyclopedias. `Assembled Essentials on the T'ang', a collection completed in 961, became the example for the various types of encyclopedic literature that followed. (Photo - painting of The White Jasmine Branch, 12th century).
The Sung period is famous for porcelain with a celadon glaze, which was one of the most desired items in foreign trade (See Pottery and Porcelain). The development of gunpowder led to the invention of a type of hand grenade. In shipbuilding, the great seagoing junks were admired and imitated by Arab and Western sailors. By far the largest ships in the world at the time, they had watertight compartments and could carry up to 1,000 passengers.
The Sung cities. Oceanic and coastal trade was concentrated in large ports such as Canton, Hangzhou, and Chuanzhou (Marco Polo's Zayton), where large foreign trading communities developed. Koreans dominated the trade with the eastern islands, while Persians and Arabs controlled commerce across the western seas. Along with commercial expansion came the urbanization, or increasing importance of cities, in Sung society. Hangzhou, the Southern Sung capital, had a population of more than 2 million. Commercialization and urbanization had a number of effects on Chinese society. People in the countryside faced the problems of absentee landlordism. Although many city residents enjoyed luxury, with a great variety of goods and services, poverty was widespread. (Photo - Wooden carving of Guan Yin).
A change associated with urbanization was the decline in the status of women of the upper classes. With the concentration of the upper classes in the cities, where the work of women became less essential, women were treated as servants and playthings. This was reflected in the practices of concubinage and of binding girls' feet to make them smaller. Neither practice was banned until the 20th century.
Longquan Celadon wares, 13th century
THE YUAN (Mongol) DYNASTY (1279-1368)
The Mongols were the first of the northern barbarians to rule all of China. After creating an empire that stretched across the Eurasian continent and occupying northern China and Korea in the first half of the 13th century, the Mongols continued their assault on the Southern Sung. By 1276 the Southern Sung capital of Hangzhou had fallen, and in 1279 the last of the Sung loyalists perished. (Photo - Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson and founder of the Yuan Dynasty).
Before this, Kublai Khan, the fifth "great khan" and grandson of Genghis Khan, had moved the Mongol capital from Karakorum to Peking. In 1271 he declared himself emperor of China and named the dynasty Yuan, meaning "beginning," to signify that this was the beginning of a long era of Mongol rule.
In Asia, Kublai Khan continued his grandfather's dream of world conquest. Two unsuccessful naval expeditions were launched against Japan in 1274 and 1281. Four land expeditions were sent against Annam and five against Burma. However, the Mongol conquests overseas and in Southeast Asia were neither spectacular nor were they long enduring.
Mongol rule in China lasted less than a century. The Mongols became the most hated of the barbarian rulers because they did not allow the Chinese ruling class to govern. Instead, they gave the task of governing to foreigners. Distrusting the Chinese, the Mongol rulers placed the southern Chinese at the lowest level of the four classes they created. The extent of this distrust was reflected in their provincial administration. As conquerers, they followed the Ch'in example and made the provincial governments into direct extensions of the central chancellery. This practice was continued by succeeding dynasties, resulting in a further concentration of power in the central imperial government. (Photo - Yuan Banknote with its printing plate, 1287).
The Chinese despised the Mongols for refusing to adapt to Chinese culture. The Mongols kept their own language and customs. The Mongol rulers were tolerant about religions, however. Kublai Khan reportedly dabbled in many religions.
The Mongols and the West. The Mongols were regarded with mixed feelings in the West. Although Westerners dreaded the Mongols, the Crusaders hoped to use them in their fight against the Muslims and attempted to negotiate an alliance with them for this purpose. Friar John of Carpini and William of Rubruck were two of the better known Christian missionaries sent to establish these negotiations with the Mongol ruler. (Photo - Bailin Temple Pagoda built in 1330).
The best account of the Mongols was left by a Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, in his `Marco Polo's Travels'. It is an account of Polo's travels over the long and perilous land route to China, his experience as a trusted official of Kublai Khan, and his description of China under the Mongols. Dictated in the early 14th century, the book was translated into many languages. Although much of medieval Europe did not believe Polo's tales, some, like Christopher Columbus, were influenced by Polo's description of the riches of the Orient.
After the death of Kublai Khan in 1294, successive weak and incompetent khans made the already hated Mongol rule intolerable. Secret societies became increasingly active, and a movement known as the Red Turbans spread throughout the north during the 1350s. In 1356 a rebel leader named Chu Yuan-chang and his peasant army captured the old capital of Nanjing. Within a decade he had won control of the economically important middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, driving the Mongols to the north. In 1368 he declared himself the emperor Hung-wu and established his capital at Nanjing on the lower Yangtze. Later the same year he captured the Yuan capital of Peking. (Photo - Hand Cannon from the period).
Kublai Khan (1215-94). The founder of China's Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty was a brilliant general and statesman named Kublai Khan. He was the grandson of the great Mongol conqueror, Genghis Khan, and he was overlord of the vast Mongol Empire. The achievements of Kublai Khan were first brought to the attention of Western society in the writings of Marco Polo, the Venetian traveler who lived at the Chinese court for nearly 20 years.
Kublai Khan was born in 1215, the fourth son of Genghis Khan's fourth son. He began to play a major role in the consolidation of Mongol power in 1251, when his brother, the emperor Mongke, resolved to complete the conquest of China. He therefore vested Kublai with responsibility for keeping order in conquered territory. After Mongke's death in 1259, Kublai had himself proclaimed khan. During the next 20 years he completed the unification of China. He made his capital in what is now Beijing.
Kublai's major achievement was to reconcile China to rule by a foreign people, the Mongols, who had shown little ability at governing. His failures were a series of costly wars, including two disastrous attempts to invade Japan; they brought little benefit to China. Although he was a magnanimous ruler, Kublai's extravagant administration slowly impoverished China; and in the 14th century the ineptitude of his successors provoked rebellions that eventually destroyed the Mongol dynasty.
Archibishop John of Cilician Armenia, in a painting from 1287. His dress displays a Chinese dragon, an indication of the thriving exchanges with the Mongols during the period.
In 1298 a Venetian adventurer named Marco Polo wrote a fascinating book about his travels in the Far East. Men read his accounts of Oriental riches and became eager to find sea routes to China, Japan, and the East Indies. Even Columbus, nearly 200 years later, often consulted his copy of `The Book of Ser Marco Polo'.
In Marco's day the book was translated and copied by hand in several languages. After printing was introduced in the 1440s, the book was circulated even more widely. Many people thought that the book was a fable or a gross exaggeration. A few learned men believed that Marco wrote truly, however, and they spread Marco's stories of faraway places and unknown peoples. Today geographers agree that Marco's book is amazingly accurate.
Marco Polo was born in the city-republic of Venice in 1254. His father and uncles were merchants who traveled to distant lands to trade. In 1269 Marco's father, Nicolo, and his uncle Maffeo returned to Venice after being away many years. On a trading expedition they had traveled overland as far as Cathay (China). Kublai Khan, the great Mongol emperor of China, asked them to return with teachers and missionaries for his people. So they set out again in 1271, and this time they took Marco.
From Venice the Polos sailed to Acre, in Palestine. There two monks, missionaries to China, joined them. Fearing the hard journey ahead, however, the monks soon turned back. The Polos crossed the deserts of Persia (Iran) and Afghanistan. They mounted the heights of the Pamirs, the "roof of the world," descending to the trading cities of Kashgar (Shufu) and Yarkand (Soche). They crossed the dry stretches of The Gobi. Early in 1275 they arrived at Kublai Khan's court at Cambaluc (Peking). At that time Marco was 21 years old.
Polo at the Court of the Great Khan
Marco quickly became a favorite of Kublai Khan. For three years he governed busy Yangchow, a city of more than 250,000 people. He was sent on missions to far places in the empire: to Indochina, Tibet, Yunnan, and Burma. From these lands Marco brought back stories of the people and their lives.
The Polos became wealthy in Cathay. But they began to fear that jealous men in the court would destroy them when the khan died. They asked to return to Venice. Kublai Khan refused. Then came an envoy from the khan of Persia. He asked Kublai Khan for a young Mongol princess for a bride. The Polos said that the princess' journey should be guarded by men of experience and rank. They added that the mission would enable them to make the long-desired visit to Venice. The khan reluctantly agreed.
Since there was danger from robbers and enemies of the khan along the overland trade routes, a great fleet of ships was built for a journey by sea. In 1292 the fleet sailed, bearing the Polos, the princess, and 600 noblemen of Cathay. They traveled southward along Indochina and the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra. Here the voyage was delayed many months.
The ships then turned westward and visited Ceylon and India. They touched the East African coast. The voyage was hazardous, and of the 600 noblemen only 18 lived to reach Persia. The Polos and the princess were safe. When the Polos landed in Venice, they had been gone 24 years. The precious stones they brought from Cathay amazed all Venice.
Later Marco served as gentleman-captain of a ship. It was captured by forces of the rival trading city of Genoa, and he was thrown into a Genoese prison. There he wrote his book with help from another prisoner. Marco was released by the Genoese in 1299. He returned to Venice and engaged in trade. His name appears in the court records of his time in many lawsuits over property and money. He married and had three daughters. He died about 1323.
THE MING DYNASTY (1368-1644)
Having restored Chinese rule to China, the first Ming emperor tried to model his rule after that of the Han, but the Ming fell far short of the Han's accomplishments. The land under Ming domination was less than under either the Han or the T'ang. The Ming dominion changed little after the first two decades. It was confined mostly to what is known as China proper, south of the Great Wall and east of Xinjiang and Tibet. (Photo - Although the Great Wall was started in the Warring Period and unified in the Qin and Han Dynasties, the majority of the brick and stone Great Wall was build in the Ming Dynasty).
In culture, as well, the Ming lacked the Han's creativity and brilliance. Coming after almost a century of foreign domination, the Ming was a period of restoration and reorganization rather than a time of new discovery. In a sense, the Ming followed a typical dynastic cycle: initial rehabilitation of the economy and restoration of efficient government, followed by a time of stability and then a gradual decline and fall.
The emperor Hung-wu modeled his government on the T'ang system, restoring the doctrine and practices of Confucianism and continuing the trend toward concentration of power in the imperial government, especially in the hands of the emperor himself. He tried to conduct state affairs singlehandedly, but the work load proved overwhelming. To assist him, he gathered around him several loyal middle-level officials, thus creating an extra-governmental organization, the Grand Secretariat. The central bureaucracy was restored and filled by officials selected by the examination system. That system was further formalized by the introduction of a special essay style called the eight-legged essay, to be used in writing the examination. In addition, the subject matter of the examinations was restricted to the Five Classics, said to have been compiled, edited, or written by Confucius, and the Four Books, published by Chu Xi. (Photo - Painting of Hung-wu)
In the field of provincial government, the emperor Hung-wu continued the Yuan practice of limiting the power of provincial governors and subjecting them directly to the central government. The empire was divided into 15 provinces. The first capital at Nanjing was in the economic heartland of China, but in 1421 the emperor Yung-Lo, who took the throne after a civil w ar, moved the capital to Peking, where he began a massive construction project. The imperial palace, which is also known as the Forbidden City, was built at this time.
The Ming produced two unique contributions: the maritime expeditions of the early 15th century and the philosophy of Wang Yang-ming. Between 1405 and 1433, seven major maritime expeditions were launched under the leadership of a Muslim eunuch, Cheng Ho. Each expedition was provided with several seagoing vessels, which were 400 feet (122 meters) high, weighed 700 tons (635 metric tons), had multiple decks and 50 or 60 cabins, and carried several hundred people. During these expeditions, the Chinese sailed the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. They traveled as far west as eastern Africa and as far south as Java and Sumatra. But these missions ended just as suddenly as they had begun. (Photo - City wall of Nanjing).
In philosophy, Wang Yang-ming developed a system of thought that ran counter to the orthodox teaching of Chu Hsi. While Chu Xi believed in learning based on reason and the "investigation of things," Wang Yang-ming believed in the "learning of the mind," an intuitive process.
During the second half of the Ming Dynasty, European expansion began. Early in the 16th century Portuguese traders arrived and leased the island of Macao as their trading post. In 1582 Matteo Ricci, an Italian Jesuit missionary, arrived in Macao. Because of his knowledge of science, mathematics, and astronomy and his willingness to learn the Chinese language and adapt to Chinese life, he was accepted by the Chinese and became the first foreigner allowed to live in Peking permanently. Jesuits followed him and served the Ming emperors as mapmakers, calendar reformers, and astronomers. (Photo - Porcelain Vase from the Jiajing Period, 1521 - 1567).
Unlike earlier brief contacts with the West or the later Western incursions into China, the 16th-century Sino-Western relationship was culturally oriented and mutually respectful. Both the Chinese and the Jesuits tried to find common ground in their thoughts. The Jesuits' activities produced 300,000 converts in 200 years, not a great number among a population of more than 100 million. Among them, however, were noted scholars such as Hsu Kuang-ch'i and Li Chih-tsao, who translated many of the works that Jesuits brought to China. The Jesuits wrote over 300 Chinese works.
In the last century of its existence, the Ming Dynasty faced numerous internal and external problems. The internal problem was tied to official corruption and taxation. Because the Ming bureaucracy was relatively small, tax collection was entrusted to locally powerful people who evaded paying taxes by passing the burden on to the poor. A succession of weak and inattentive emperors encouraged the spread of corruption and the greed of eunuchs. In the 1620s a struggle between the inner group of eunuchs and the outer circle of scholar-officials led to the execution of about 700 scholars. (Photo - Tianqi Era teacups).
Externally, the security of the Ming empire was threatened from all directions. The Mongols returned and seized Peking in 1550, and their control of Turkestan and Tibet was recognized by the Ming in a peace treaty of 1570. Pirates preyed on the east coast, and Japanese pirates penetrated as far inland as Hangzhou and Nanjing. In the 1590s the Ming had to send expeditionary forces to rescue Korea from invading Japanese soldiers under Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The Ming drove back the Japanese forces, but not without depleting the treasury and weakening their defensive network against neighboring Manchuria to the northeast.
In Manchuria the Manchus had organized a Chinese-style state and strengthened their forces under a unique form of military organization called the banner system. However, it was not the Manchus who overthrew the Ming but a Chinese rebel, Li Tzu-cheng, who became a leader among the bandits who had become desperate because of a famine in the northwest in 1628. By 1642 Li had become master of north China and in 1644 he captured Peking. (Photo - The Forbidden City was the official Imperial Household of the Ming & Qing Dynasties).
There he found that the last Ming emperor had hanged himself, ending the "Brilliant" dynasty. Li, however, was not destined to rule. The rule was to pass once again into the hands of a people from beyond the Great Wall, the Manchus. They were invited into China by the Ming general Wu San-kuei to eliminate the rebels. After driving the rebels from the capital, the Manchus stayed and established a new dynasty, the Ch'ing.
Spring morning in a Han palace, by Qiu Ying (1494-1552); excessive luxury and decadence were hallmarks of the late Ming period, spurred by the enormous state bullion of incoming silver and private transactions involving silver.
THE Ch'ING (Qing) DYNASTY (1644-1911)
Like the Mongols in the 13th century, the Manchus (formerly the Juchen) were barbarians who succeeded in ruling the whole of China, but, unlike the 13th-century conquerers, the sinicized Manchus made their rule more acceptable to the Chinese. As a result, Ch'ing rule lasted 267 years, compared with 89 years for the Yuan.
The Pax Sinica 1683-1795
The Manchus took Peking with relative ease in 1644, but they did not gain control of the whole of China until 1683. Thereafter, the Manchus enjoyed more than a century of peace and prosperity, a period that came to be called Pax Sinica (Peace in China). By the end of that period the dynasty had reached the height of its power.
Two strong emperors who were considered models of all Confucian ideals ruled for much of this period: the emperors K'ang-xi (1661-1722) and Ch'ien-lung (1735-96). By recruiting the well-educated in government and promoting Confucian scholarship, these two Manchu rulers firmly established themselves as Confucian rulers in China. Outside China, both were successful conquerers. All of the Ch'ing empire's vast territories, including Mongolia in the north, Xinjiang in the northwest, and Tibet in the southwest, were incorporated into the expanding Chinese Empire during this period.
The Ch'ing adopted the Ming system of government with two exceptions: the insertion of Manchu power at the head of the Chinese state, and the creation of the Grand Council in the emperor Yung-cheng's reign. The Grand Council superseded the Grand Secretariat and became the most powerful body in the government. In provincial government, the Ch'ing created 18 provinces from the 15 Ming provinces. A governor, usually Chinese, headed each province, and a governor-general, usually a Manchu before the 19th century, headed every two provinces. Local landlords and administrators were generally left alone if they submitted to the new rule.
The K'ang-xii era marked the height of Jesuit success in China, with more than 200,000 converts. Thereafter, Jesuit influence waned rapidly because of the rivalry between the Jesuits and other Catholic missionaries and the so-called Rites Controversy, which concerned the Jesuits' willingness to tolerate the converts' performance of ceremonies honoring Confucius. The pope denounced the Jesuit view and prohibited the ceremonies.
The long period of peace and prosperity had some adverse effects on Chinese society. There was a shortage of land, resulting from an increase in the population from 100 million to 300 million at the end of the 18th century. Decadence and corruption spread in the imperial court. There was a decline of the Manchu military spirit, and the Ch'ing military organization deteriorated. The long and illustrious reign of the emperor Ch'ien-lung was marred by the first of many serious rebellions in the Ch'ing era, the White Lotus Rebellion from 1796 to 1804. It was not put down for ten years, and China entered the 19th century rocked by revolt. More devastating were the incursions of Western powers, which shook the foundation of the empire.
19th Century Invasions and rebellions
The first of many Sino-Western conflicts in the 19th century was the first Opium War, fought from 1839 to 1842. It was more than a dispute over the opium trade in China; it was a contest between China as the representative of ancient Eastern civilization and Britain as the forerunner of the modern West. Free trade advocates in the West had protested against the restrictive trading system in force at Canton. They demanded free trade in China, the opening of more ports to Westerners, and the establishment of treaty relations. The Treaty of Nanjing, which ended the first Opium War, opened five ports to the British--the first of the "treaty ports" where Western nations were granted various privileges. A second Opium War, also known as the Arrow War, fought from 1856 to 1860, pitted China against Great Britain and France. (Photo - United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia & Japan dividing China).
The Opium Wars disrupted the old life and economy of southern China. A number of peasant revolts occurred in the 1840s, coming to a head in the Taiping Rebellion, the biggest rebellion in Chinese history. The leader of the Taipings was Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, from a village near Canton. Believing that God had chosen him to save the world, he adopted a confused version of Christianity as his guiding doctrine and set out to overthrow the Manchus and change society. The combination of religious fervor and anti-Manchu sentiment attracted a following that rose to over 30,000 within a short time. In 1852 the T'ai-p'ing T'ienkuo (Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace) was proclaimed. In 1853 the rebels took the city of Nanjing and made it their capital.
Other revolts erupted at about the same time: the Nien Rebellion in the northeast and Muslim rebellions in the southwest and the northwest. Fearing a linkup among the rebels that would engulf all of China, the Ch'ing government created regional armies manned entirely by Chinese and commanded by Chinese of the scholar-gentry class. The commanders of the new forces, all loyal supporters of the dynasty--Tseng Kuo-fan, Tso Tsung-t'ang, and Li Hung-chang--suppressed the rebels with the help of Western weapons and leadership. They annihilated the Taipings in 1864, the Niens by 1868, and the Muslims by 1873.
The internal rebellions were suppressed, but external threats continued. After a brief period of "cooperation" in the 1860s, foreign powers renewed their assault on China, reacting to widespread antiforeign violence. Again, China became embroiled in a series of conflicts: the Tianjin Massacre with France in 1870, the Ili crisis with Russia in 1879, the Sino-French War from 1884 to 1885, and the Sino-Japanese War from 1894 to 1895. Each brought further humiliation and greater impairment of sovereignty. In the last two incidents territory was lost, and an indemnity had to be paid to the victor in the Sino-Japanese War.
China in the 19th century was beset by internal turmoil. It was easy prey to more powerful nations that wanted to exploit every advantage to profit from trade. Chief among these advantages was the opium trade. Official Chinese resistance to opium resulted in two trade wars in which Great Britain, France, the United States, and Russia gained significant commercial privileges. These conflicts were the first Opium War from 1839 to 1842 between China and Britain and the second Opium War (1856-60) fought by China against Britain and France.
Opium had been introduced into China in the 7th century. By the early 18th century opium addiction had become such a severe problem that the government tried to prohibit trade in it. The prohibition was a failure. When the British discovered the value of the opium trade in 1773, they determined to benefit. The Chinese paid the British for the opium, and the British in turn used the money as part payment for goods bought from the Chinese.
In 1839 the Chinese government made a concerted effort to suppress the opium trade. All the opium warehouses in Canton were confiscated. This serious effort, followed by a minor military incident, led to hostilities. In February 1840 the British sent an expedition against Canton.
The conflict, in which the more powerful British were victorious, was ended by the Treaty of Nanjing, which was signed on Aug. 29, 1842, and a supplemental treaty of Oct. 8, 1843. These treaties provided for payment of an indemnity of 21 million dollars by the Chinese, cession of five ports for British trade and residence, and the right of British citizens in China to be tried in British courts. It was at this time that Britain gained control of Hong Kong.
In October 1856 the Canton police boarded a British-registered ship, the Arrow, and charged its crew with smuggling. This incident led to the second war. In this war the British were joined by the French, and an Anglo-French force occupied Canton late in 1857. The Treaty of Tianjin in 1858 temporarily halted the fighting, opened new trading ports, allowed residence in Peking for foreign emissaries, gave freedom of movement to Christian missionaries, and permitted travel in the interior.
The Chinese refusal to ratify the treaty led to an Anglo-French attack on Peking and the burning of the Summer Palace. In 1860 the Chinese signed the Convention of Peking by which they promised to observe the 1858 treaty.
In terms of casualties, it was one of the worst civil wars in history. More than 20 million--possibly more than 30 million--died, and 17 provinces were ravaged by the Taiping Rebellion. This was the most serious of several internal disturbances that took place in China between 1850 and 1873 and that seriously weakened the Ch'ing Dynasty and helped prepare the way for the revolutions of the 20th century.
The leader of the rebellion was Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, an unsuccessful civil-service candidate who came under the influence of fundamentalist Christianity. Thinking of himself as a son of God sent to reform China, he helped found the Association of God Worshipers in about 1846. Preaching that all property should be held by the people, he attracted many followers in Guangxi Province. By January 1851, when the rebellion began, Hung's ranks had swelled from several thousand ragged peasants to more than 1 million disciplined and eager soldiers. They took the city of Nanjing in March 1853 and made it their capital. For several years the rebel armies dominated the Yangtze River valley. They failed, however, to take Shanghai, where the defenders were commanded by an American named Frederick Townsend Ward and the British general known as Chinese Gordon . By 1862 the movement was losing steam, weakened by internal strife and defections. Nanjing fell in July 1864 to the army of Gen. Tseng Kuo-fan, and Hung committed suicide. Sporadic resistance continued for four more years.
Late 19th Century Revolutionary ideas and organizations
The reforms that were sponsored by the imperial government were too little and too late. A drastic change was necessary. The idea of overthrowing the Manchus was suggested by Liang Ch'i-ch'ao in his concept of hsin min (new people). Publishing a magazine in Japan, where he had fled after the Hundred Days, Liang called for the Chinese people to renew themselves and also indicated that the Chinese nation was distinct and separate from the ruling dynasty of the Manchus. Although he did not advocate overthrowing the dynasty, the message was quickly picked up by the more radical leaders who were already leaning toward revolution.
One such leader was Sun Yat-sen, who is now revered as the father of modern China by Nationalists and Communists alike. Born into a peasant family near Canton, the traditional stronghold of anti-Manchu rebels, Sun followed a traditional Chinese path during his early years. He was educated in Hawaii, converted to Christianity, and had a short-lived medical career before switching to politics and attempting to propose a reform program to Li Hung-chang in 1894. After forming a secret revolutionary society and plotting an unsuccessful uprising in Canton in 1894, Sun began a long period of exile outside China. He gained wide recognition as a revolutionary leader in 1896, when his arrest in the Chinese legation in London and subsequent rescue were reported sensationally in newspaper articles.
In 1905, in Japan, he brought together several revolutionary groups and formed the Revolutionary Alliance Society. Its program consisted of the now famous Three People's Principles: nationalism, freeing all China from foreign control; democracy, overthrowing the Manchus and introducing a democratic political system; and people's livelihood. Although Sun himself could not live in China, members of the alliance infiltrated many social organizations there. The revolutionary spirit that had been developed by Sun became especially high among students' and soldiers' groups.
The Empress Dowger
TZ'U-XI (1835-1908). Known in the West as the empress dowager, Tz'u-xi dominated the political life of China for nearly 50 years. As ruler acting for child emperors, she and her cohorts brought a measure of stability to their nation. But, under her, the government was dishonest and did not make changes that were needed to benefit the people. This eventually led to the end of the Ch'ing Dynasty, which ruled from 1644 to 1911, and a revolution.
Tz'u-xi was born in Peking on Nov. 29, 1835. She became a consort of the emperor Xien-feng (ruled 1850-61) and mother of the emperor T'ung-chih. When T'ung-chih became emperor in 1861, he was only 6. She and another consort became co-regents along with a brother of the former emperor. Under this three-way rule the Taiping Rebellion was ended. Other disturbances were put down, and some modernization was brought to China.
Tz'u-xi gradually increased her power within the ruling coalition, and even when the emperor matured she continued to control the government. After the young emperor's untimely death, she saw to it that her 3-year-old nephew was named as heir, though this violated succession law. Thus the two dowagers
continued acting as regents. The other dowager died--presumably murdered--in 1881, and Tz'u-hsi ruled alone. From 1889 to 1898 she lived in apparent retirement in the summer palace. The new emperor's attempts at reform after losing the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), however, brought her back into action--determined to stave off any changes. In 1899 she backed the officials promoting the Boxer Rebellion. After China's defeat at the hand of foreign troops, she fled the capital and accepted humiliating peace terms. She returned in 1902 and belatedly tried to install the reforms she had once opposed. Before her death, on Nov. 15, 1908, she had the emperor poisoned. His successor was a 2-year old who was forced from the throne four years later.
In the summer of 1900 members of a secret society roamed northeastern China in bands, killing Europeans and Americans and destroying buildings owned by foreigners. They called themselves I-ho ch'uan, or "Righteous and Harmonious Fists." They practiced boxing skills that they believed made them impervious to bullets. To Westerners they became known as the Boxers, and their uprising was called the Boxer Rebellion.
Most Boxers were peasants or urban thugs from northern China who resented the growing influence of Westerners in their land. They organized themselves in 1898, and in the same year the Chinese government--then ruled by the Ch'ing Dynasty--secretly allied with the Boxers to oppose such outsiders as Christian missionaries and European businessmen. The Boxers failed to drive foreigners out of China, but they set the stage for the successful Chinese revolutionary movement of the early 20th century.
Foreigners had entered China during an era of imperialism. In the late 1800s Great Britain and other European nations, the United States, Russia, and Japan scrambled for spheres of influence there. In some cases they seized Chinese territories, but usually they only sought the riches of trade and commercial enterprise. At the same time, Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries tried to convert the Chinese to Christianity. These outsiders were resented and feared by the Chinese, who saw Western religion and business practices as a threat to their traditional ways.
By May of 1900, Boxers were wandering the countryside and attacking Western missionaries and Chinese converts to Christianity. In June an expeditionary force, made up of Russian, British, German, French, American, and Japanese troops, was organized to proceed to Peking (now Beijing), put down the rebellion, and protect Western nationals. (Photo - Emperor Xuantong, the last Emperor of China - Movie)
The Chinese dowager empress Tz'u-xi, the aunt of Emperor Kuang-hsu, ordered her troops to block the advance of this expedition. The foreigners were turned back. Meanwhile, Boxers were rampaging in Peking, burning down churches and the houses of Westerners, and killing Chinese Christians. Foreign troops then seized Chinese coastal forts to insure access to Peking. Enraged, the dowager empress ordered the death of all foreigners in China. The German minister to China was assassinated, and Boxer rebels began an eight-week attack on the walled foreign compound in Peking.
In response, the allied foreign governments sent some 19,000 soldiers to Peking, capturing the city on Aug. 14, 1900. The invaders looted the city and routed the Boxers, while the empress and her court fled to the north. By the time the rebellion ended, at least 250 foreigners had been killed. It took a year for the parties to the conflict to agree on a settlement, which was entitled the Peace of Peking. This protocol, which was signed in September 1901, was dictated by the Western powers and Japan in such a way as to humiliate China. Heavy fines were levied against the Chinese government, and existing commercial treaties were amended in favor of the Western powers. The foreign coastal defenses were dismantled.
The failure of the Boxer Rebellion to eject the West and the humiliation of the Chinese by the terms of the Peace of Peking generated more support for nationalist revolutionaries. In 1911 the Ch'ing Dynasty collapsed. Revolutionaries led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen then took over the Chinese government, ending more than 2,000 years of monarchy. (The Photo is of Dr Sun Yat-sen)
The Revolution of 1911
In the industrial city of Wuhan, a soldiers' groupwith only a loose connection to Sun's alliance rose in rebellion in the early morning of Oct. 10, 1911 (since celebrated as Double Ten, the tenth day of the tenth month). The Manchu governor and his commander fled, and a Chinese ommander, Li Yuan-hung, was pressured into taking over the leadership. By early December all of the central, southern, and northwestern provinces had declared independence. Sun Yat-sen, who was in the United States during the revolution, returned and was chosen head of the provisional government of the Republic of China in Nanjing. (The Photo is of Li Yuan-hung)
The Manchu court quickly summoned Yuan Shih-kai, the former commander of the reformed Northern Army. Personally ambitious and politically shrewd, Yuan carried out negotiations with both the Manchu court and the revolutionaries. Yuan was able to persuade the Manchus to abdicate peacefully in return for the safety of the imperial family. On Feb. 12, 1912, the regent of the 6-year-old emperor formally announced the abdication. The Manchu rule in China ended after 267 years, and with it the 2,000-year-old imperial system.
THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA (1912-1949)
Early in March 1912, Sun Yat-sen resigned from the presidency and, as promised, Yuan Shih-kai was elected his successor at Nanjing. Inaugurated in March 1912 in Beijing, the base of his power, Yuan established a republican system of government with a premier, a cabinet, a draft constitution, and a plan for parliamentary elections early in 1913. The Kuomintang (KMT, National People's party), the successor to Sun Yat-sen's organization, was formed in order to prepare for the election. (The Photo is of the Republic's Seal of Office)
Despite his earlier pledges to support the republic, Yuan schemed to assassinate his opponents and weaken the constitution and the parliament. By the end of 1914 he had made himself president for life and even planned to establish an imperial dynasty with himself as the first emperor. His dream was thwarted by the serious crisis of the Twenty-one Demands for special privileges presented by the Japanese in January 1915 and by vociferous opposition from many sectors of Chinese society. He died in June 1916 a broken man. After Yuan's death, a number of his proteges took positions of power in the Beijing government or ruled as warlords in outlying regions. In August 1917 the Beijing government joined the Allies and declared war on Germany. At the peace conference in Versailles, France, the Chinese demand to end foreign concessions in China was ignored.
Sun-yat Sen (1866-1925). Known as the father of modern China, Sun Yat-sen worked to achieve his lofty goals for modern China. These included the overthrow of the Manchu Dynasty, the unification of China, and the establishment of a republic. (The Photo is of Dr Sun Yat-sen in Guangzhou)
Sun Yat-sen was born on Nov. 12, 1866, in Guangdong Province and attended several schools, including one in Honolulu, Hawaii, before transferring to a college of medicine in Hong Kong. Graduating in 1892, Sun almost immediately abandoned medicine for politics. His role in an unsuccessful uprising in Canton in 1895 prompted Sun to begin an exile that lasted for 16 years. Sun used this time to travel widely in Japan, Europe, and the United States, enlisting sympathy and raising money for his republican cause. Sun returned to China in 1911 after a successful rebellion in Wuhan inspired uprisings in other provinces. As leader of the Kuomintang, or Nationalist party, Sun was elected provisional president of the newly declared republic but was forced to resign in 1912.
In 1913 his disagreements with government policies led Sun to organize a second revolution. Failing to regain power, Sun left once again for Japan, where he organized a separate government. Sun returned to China and attempted to set up a new government in 1917 and 1921 before successfully installing himself as generalissimo of a new regime in 1923.
Sun increasingly relied on aid from the Soviet Union, and in 1924 he reorganized the Kuomintang on the model of the Soviet Communist party. Sun also founded the Whampoa Military Academy and appointed Chiang Kai-shek as its president. Sun summarized his policies in the Three Principles of the People--nationalism, democracy, and socialism. He died of cancer in Peking on March 12, 1925. Sun's tomb in Nanking is now a national shrine. (The Photo is of the Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing)
The May Fourth Movement
After World War I The Chinese felt betrayed. Anger and frustration erupted in demonstrations on May 4, 1919, in Beijing. Joined by workers and merchants, the movement spread to major cities. The Chinese representative at Versailles refused to endorse the peace treaty, but its provisions remained unchanged. Disillusioned with the West, many Chinese looked elsewhere for help.
The May Fourth Movement, which grew out of the student uprising, attacked Confucianism, initiated a vernacular style of writing, and promoted science. Scholars of international stature, such as John Dewey and Bertrand Russell, were invited to lecture. Numerous magazines were published to stimulate new thoughts. Toward the end of the movement's existence, a split occurred among its leaders. Some, like Ch'en Tu-Xiu and Li Ta-chao, were beginning to be influenced by the success of the Russian Revolution of 1917, which contrasted sharply with the failure of the 1911 Revolution in China to change the social order and improve conditions. By 1920, people associated with the Comintern (Communist International) were disseminating literature in China and helping to start Communist groups, including one led by Mao Zedong. A meeting at Shanghai in 1921 was actually the first party congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP).
The CCP was so small that the Soviet Union looked elsewhere for a viable political ally. A Comintern agent, Adolph Joffe, was sent to China to approach Sun Yat-sen, who had failed to obtain assistance from Great Britain or the United States. The period of Sino-Soviet collaboration began with the Sun-Joffe Declaration of Jan. 26, 1923. The KMT was recognized by the Soviet Union, and the Communists were admitted as members. With Soviet aid, the KMT army was built up. A young officer, Chiang Kai-shek, was sent to Moscow for training. Upon returning, he was put in charge of the Whampoa Military Academy, established to train soldiers to fight the warlords, who controlled much of China. Zhou Enlai (also Chou En-lai) of the CCP was deputy director of the academy's political department.
Sun Yat-sen, whose power base was in the south, had planned to send an expedition against the northern warlords, but he died before it could get under way. Chiang Kai-shek, who succeeded him in the KMT leadership, began the northern expedition in July 1926. The Nationalist army met little resistance and by April 1927 had reached the lower Yangtze. Meanwhile, Chiang, claiming to be a sincere follower of Sun Yat-sen, had broken with the left-wing elements of the KMT. After the Nationalist forces had taken Shanghai, a Communist-led general strike was suppressed with bloodshed. Following suppressions in other cities, Chiang set up his own government at Nanjing on April 18, 1927. He professed friendship with the Soviet Union, but by July 1927 he was expelling Communists from the KMT. Some left-wingers left for the Soviet Union.
(Photo - Chinese Generals pay tribute to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Beijing in 1928 after the success of the Northern Expedition. From right to left, are Generals Cheng Jin, Zhang Zuobao, Chen Diaoyuan, Chiang Kai-shek, Woo Tsin-hang, Wen Xishan, Ma Fuxiang, Ma Sida, and Bai Chongxi.)
The northern expedition was resumed, and in 1928 Chiang took Peking. China was formally unified. Nationalist China was recognized by the Western powers and supported by loans from foreign banks. (The Photo is of Dr Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek)
The Nationalist Era (1928-1937)
The Nationalist period began with high hopes and much promise. More could have been accomplished had it not been for the problems of Comintern corruption and Japanese aggression. In his efforts to combat them both, Chiang neglected the land reform needed to improve the lives of the peasants. Driven from the cities, the Communists concentrated on organizing the peasants in the countryside. On Nov. 1, 1931, they proclaimed the establishment of the Chinese Soviet Republic in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, with Mao Zedong as chairman. Here the first units of the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army were formed. While conducting guerrilla warfare in these regions, the soldiers carried out an agrarian revolution that was based on Mao's premise that the best way to win the conflict was to isolate the cities by gaining control of the countryside and the food supply. (The Photo is of Mao in 1931)
A military man by temperament and training, Chiang sought to eliminate the Communists by force. He defined his anti-Communist drive as "internal pacification before resistance to external attack," and he gave it more importance than opposition to the increasingly aggressive Japanese. With arms and military advisers from Nazi Germany, Chiang carried out a series of "extermination campaigns" that killed about a million people between 1930 to 1934. Chiang's fifth campaign, involving over half a million troops, almost annihilated the Communists. Faced with the dilemma of being totally destroyed in Jiangxi or attempting an almost impossible escape, the Communists decided to risk the escape. On Oct. 15, 1934, they broke through the tight KMT siege. Over 100,000 men and women set out on of about 6,000 miles (9,600 kilometers) through China's most rugged terrain to find a new base in the northwest. (The Photo is of Chiang Kai-shek)
(Photo - Chiang Kai-shek (right) with future Japanese Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai (center), Pan-Asianist leader Tōyama Mitsuru (left) in Japan 1929.)
In the meantime, the Japanese had made steady inroads into China. The Mukden Incident of 1931, through which Mukden was occupied by the Japanese, was initiated by Japanese officers stationed along the South Manchurian Railway. This was followed by the occupation of Manchuria and the creation of the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932. By the mid-1930s the Japanese had seized Inner Mongolia and parts of northeastern China and had created the North China Autonomous Region with no resistance from the Nationalists. Anti-Japanese sentiment mounted in China, but Chiang ignored it and in 1936 launched yet another extermination campaign against the Communists in Shaanxi. Chiang was forced to give up the anti-Communist drive when his troops mutinied and arrested him as he arrived in Xi'an in December 1936 to plan strategy. He was released after he agreed to form a united front with the CCP against the Japanese, who were making steady inroads into China.
In China, World War II broke out on July 7, 1937, with a seemingly insignificant little battle between Chinese and Japanese troops near Peking, called the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. Within a few days, the Japanese had occupied Peking, and the fighting spread rapidly. The war in China fell into three stages. The first (1937-1939) was characterized by the phenomenally rapid Japanese occupation of most of China's east coast, including such major cities as Shanghai, Nanjing, and Canton. The Nationalist government moved to the interior, ultimately to Chongqing in Sichuan, and the Japanese established puppet governments in Peking in 1937 and in Nanjing in 1940. The second stage (1939-1943) was a period of waiting, as Chiang blockaded the Communists in the northwest (despite the united front) and waited for help from the United States, which had declared war on Japan in 1941. (The Photo is of the Marco Polo Bridge)
In the final stage (1944-1945), the United States provided massive assistance to Nationalist China, but the Chongqing government, weakened by inflation, impoverishment of the middle class, and low troop morale was unable to take full advantage of it. Feuds among the KMT generals and between Chiang and his United States military adviser, General Joseph Stilwell, further hampered the KMT. (The Photo is of the Marco Polo Bridge)
When Japanese defeat became a certainty in the spring of 1945, the Communists seemed in a better position to take over from the Japanese garrisons than the KMT, which was far away in the rear of the formation. A United States airlift of KMT troops enabled them to occupy many cities, but the countryside stayed with the Communists.
After the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, the Allied war effort moved to the east. The Soviet Union joined the war against Japan at the end of July. On August 6 and 9 the United States dropped the world's first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On Aug. 14, 1945, the Japanese surrendered. In China, however, civil war raged over who should take charge of the Japanese arms and equipment. At the end of August an agreement was reached in Chongqing between a CCP delegation and the KMT, but the truce was brief.
In January 1946 a cease-fire was negotiated by United States General George C. Marshall. The Nationalist government returned to Nanjing, and China was recognized by the new United Nations as one of the five great powers. The United States supplied the Chiang government with an additional $2 billion ($1.5 billion had been spent for the war). Although the KMT's dominance in weapons and supplies was enormous, it was kept under guard in the cities, while the Communists held the surrounding countryside. As inflation soared, both civilians and the military became demoralized. The CCP, sensing the national mood, proposed a coalition government. The KMT refused, and fighting erupted again.
The short and decisive civil war that followed was resolved in two main places: Manchuria and the Huai River area. Despite a massive airlift of KMT forces by the United States, Manchuria was lost in October 1948 after 300,000 KMT forces surrendered to the CCP. By the end of 1948 the KMT had lost over half a million men, more than two thirds of whom had defected. In April 1949 the Communists moved south of the Yangtze. (Photo: The former KMT headquarters in Taipei City; the imposing structure directly faced the Presidential Building, was seen as a symbol of the party's wealth and dominance.)
After the fall of Nanjing and Shanghai, KMT resistance evaporated. By the autumn, the Communists had taken all mainland territories except Tibet. Chiang Kai-shek and a number of his associates fled to the island of Taiwan, where they set up what they claimed was the rightful government of China.
THE CHINESE REVOLUTION: COMMUNIST
The Communist Party
The Chinese Communist party is the primary political force in China. Unlike parties in Western democracies, it is a tightly organized movement that controls and leads society at all levels. The party sets policy and controls its execution through government officials who are also party members. The effect is to make the government an organ of the party.
At the time of its founding in 1921, the Chinese Communist party focused on organizing urban workers, but it achieved only limited success in this effort. Orthodox Marxism expected the Communist Revolution to begin among industrial workers. However, Karl Marx had developed his theories based upon highly industrialized economies, and the industrial sector in China was small and relatively primitive. It was Mao Zedong who adapted Marxist theory to the conditions of an underdeveloped, primarily agricultural society . Although Mao's successors downgraded some of his more radical ideas, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Thought--Marxism as it was interpreted by Mao--is still officially designated as the guiding philosophy that is behind both the party and the government. (Photo: Location of the first Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in July 1921, in Xintiandi, former French Concession, Shanghai.)
The Chinese Communist party is organized as a hierarchy, with power concentrated at the top. Above the local units, or cells, is a pyramid-like structure of party congresses and committees at various levels, culminating in the National Party Congress. The national congress is supposed to meet every five years, though this has not always been the case. When it is not in session, direction of the party is in the hands of a Central Committee of about 200 members, which is elected by the congress. The Central Committee, in turn, elects the Political Bureau, which in 1982 consisted of 25 full members and three alternates. It is within the Political Bureau and its elite Standing Committee that power is concentrated and the highest level decisions of state are made. There is also a secretariat that carries on the day-to-day business of the party.
Prior to 1982, the highest party office was that of chairman, held for more than 25 years, through most of the People's Republic's history to that time, by Mao Zedong. In an effort to ensure that the power Mao had enjoyed was never again concentrated in one person, a new party constitution adopted in 1982 abolished the chairmanship and replaced it with the administrative position of general secretary to the Secretariat. The constitution also established a body called the Central Advisory Commission to assist and advise the Central Committee. One of the objects of the commission was to encourage elderly party leaders to continue to be active in various functions of the Communist party. The commission became an obstacle to reform and was abolished in 1992.
Theoretically, party membership is open to anyone over 18 who accepts the party program and is willing to work actively in one of its organizations. Members are expected to abide by the party's discipline and to serve as model workers. The backbone of the party consists of full-time paid workers known as cadres (Chinese, ganbu). The term cadre is also used for public officials holding responsible positions who may or may not be members of the party.
THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
On Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China. The CCP hailed its takeover of China as a people's victory over and liberation from imperial domination (especially that of the United States) and the oppressive KMT regime. The Red Army was renamed the People's Liberation Army. During the early days of the People's Republic, the troops were restrained, foreign-educated Chinese returned to help the country, and most local administrators remained in office.
Proclamation of the Central People's Government of the PRC
The people throughout China have been plunged into bitter suffering and tribulations since the Chiang Kai-shek Kuomintang reactionary government betrayed the fatherland, colluded with imperialists, and lunched the counter-revolutionary war. Fortunately our People's Liberation Army, backed by the whole nation, has been fighting heroically and selflessly to defend the territorial sovereignty of our homeland, to protect the people's lives and property, to relieve the people of their sufferings, and to struggle for their rights, and it eventually wiped out the reactionary troops and overthrew the reactionary rule of the Nationalist government. Now, the People's War of Liberation has been basically won, and the majority of the people in the country have been liberated. On this foundation, the first session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference , composed of delegates of all the democratic parties and people's organization of China, the People's Liberation Army, the various regions and nationalities of the country, and the overseas Chinese and other patriotic elements, has been convened. Representing the will of the whole nation, [this session of the conference] has enacted the organic law of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China, elected Mao Zedong as chairman of the Central People's Government; and Zhu De, Lui Shaoqi, Song Qingling, Li Jishen, Zhang Lan, and Gao Gang as vice chairmen [of the Central People's Government]; and Chen Yi, He Long, Li Lisan, Lin Boqu, Ye Jianying, He Xiangning, Lin Biao, Peng Dehuai, Liu Bocheng, Wu Yuzhang, Xu Xiangqian, Peng Zhen, Bo Yibo, Nie Rongzhen, Zhou Enlai, Dong Biwu, Seypidin, Rao Shushi, Tan Kah-kee [Chen Jiageng], Luo Ronghuan, Deng Zihui, Ulanhu, Xu Deli, Cai Chang, Liu Geping, Ma Yinchu, Chen Yun, Kang Sheng, Lin Feng, Ma Xulun, Guo Moruo, Zhang Yunyi, Deng Xiaoping, Gao Chongmin, Shen Junru, Shen Yanbing, Chen Shutong, Szeto Mei-tong [Situ Meitang], Li Xijiu, Huang Yanpei, Cai Tingkai, Xi Zhongxun, Peng Zemin, Zhang Zhizhong, Fu Zuoyi, Li Zhuchen, Li Zhangda, Zhang Nanxian, Liu Yazi, Zhang Dongsun, and Long Yun as council members to form the Central People's Government Council, proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China and decided on Beijing as the capital of the People's Republic of China. The Central People's Government Council of the People's Republic of China took office today in the capital and unanimously made the following decisions: to proclaim the establishment of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China; to adopt the Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference as the policy of the government; to elect Lin Boqu from among the council members as secretary general of the Central People's Government Council; to appoint Zhou Enlai as premier of the Government Adminstration Council of the Central People's Government and concurrently minister of Foreign Affairs, Mao Zedong as chairman of the People's Revolutionary Military Commission of the Central People's Government, Zhu De as commander-in-chief of the People's Liberation Army, Shen Junru as president of the Supreme People's Court of the Central People's Government, and Luo Ronghuan as procurator general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate of the Central People's Government, and to charge them with the task of the speedy formation of the various organs of the government to carry out the work of the government. At the same time, the Central People's Government Council decided to declare to the governments of all other countries that this government is the sole legal government representing all the people of the People's Republic of China. This government is willing to establish diplomatic relations with any foreign government that is willing to observe the principles of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The first Communist government, the People's Consultative Council, included non-Communists among its 662 members. However, in the top committee, 31 out of 56 seats were occupied by Communists, and the constitution of 1954 drastically curtailed the role of non-Communists. After 1954, more authority was concentrated in the central government under the State Council. Real power, however, lay with the Communist party, especially the Central Committee, then composed of 94 members. This committee held together the triad of power--army, government, and party. The inner circle of the Central Committee was the 19-member Political Bureau and its seven-member Standing Committee.
Land reform: One of the first tasks of the Communist government was land reform, redistributing land from landlords to the peasants. The Agrarian Law of 1950 began the nationwide land reform, which was almost completed by the beginning of 1953.
Social reform: Land reform erased the social distinction between landlord and peasant. The new marriage law of 1950 and the campaigns of the early 1950s removed distinctions within the family. Women were given full equality with men in matters of marriage, divorce, and property ownership. Children were encouraged to denounce parents if they failed to support the Communist line.
Thought reform: Believing that the revolution could not be carried on without reform of people, the CCP launched a massive campaign to change China's entire psychology. The Four Olds campaign was launched to eradicate old ideas, habits, customs, and culture. The Three Anti's movement was directed at officials, with the aim of eliminating corruption, waste, and "bureaucratism." The Five Anti's campaign, directed at the remaining businessmen and bourgeoisie, opposed bribery, tax fraud, cheating, and stealing state property and economic information. For Chinese Christians, The Three Selfs movement stressed self-government, self-support, and self-propagation, the object being to separate the churches in China from their parent denominations abroad. Leading churchmen were forced into denouncing religion as cultural imperialism. The idea of cultural imperialism was extended to art and literature, which henceforth were to serve the people, the class struggle, and the revolution.
Economic planning: Along with the reforms of land tenure, society, family, and even thought, the CCP announced the first five-year plan in 1953 to speed up the socialization of China through a planned economy. The plan's aim was to produce maximum returns from agriculture in order to pay for industrialization and Soviet aid. The means chosen was the collectivization of agriculture. Land and farm implements were pooled into cooperatives and later into collective farms, which controlled the production, price, and distribution of products. By May 1956, 90 percent of the farmers were members of cooperatives.
Similarly, 80 percent of heavy industry and 40 percent of light industry were in government hands by October 1952. The government also controlled all the railways and most steamship operations. To speed China's development even more, Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and others, after overcoming some opposition within the leadership, launched the Great Leap Forward in 1958.
The Great Leap Forward
The Great Leap Forward was designed to overcome the backwardness of China's economy, industry, and technology. It was to be achieved through use of the vast manpower and indomitable spirit of the Chinese. Steel production was to be increased by setting up small-scale "backyard furnaces," and agricultural output was to be raised by combining the collective farms into communes. About 26,000 communes were created by the Communist government, each composed of approximately 5,000 households. ( Photo: Propaganda poster of the steel production objective. The text reads: "Take steel as the key link, leap forward in all fields", the text below is pinyin.)
After a year, the leaders admitted that the success of the program had been exaggerated. The steel produced by the backyard furnaces was of low quality, and the quantity fell short of the projected goal. The people's reluctance to join communes was stronger than expected, and the size of the communes had to be reduced. Domestic life in homes, as well as private plots for family use, had to be restored. The effect of the Great Leap Forward on the people and the economy was devastating. Coupled with three straight years of poor harvests, it resulted in a severe food shortage and industrial decline. For the next several years, while lip service was paid to Mao's thought and to Great Leap-type activism, the real power was in more conservative hands.
PHOTO - With no personal knowledge of metallurgy, Mao encouraged the establishment of small backyard steel furnaces in every commune and in each urban neighborhood. Mao was shown an example of a backyard furnace in Hefei, Anhui in September 1958 by provincial first secretary Zeng Xisheng. The unit was claimed to be manufacturing high quality steel (though in fact the finished steel had probably been manufactured elsewhere). Huge efforts on the part of peasants and other workers were made to produce steel out of scrap metal. To fuel the furnaces the local environment was denuded of trees and wood taken from the doors and furniture of peasants' houses. Pots, pans, and other metal artifacts were requisitioned to supply the "scrap" for the furnaces so that the wildly optimistic production targets could be met. Many of the male agricultural workers were diverted from the harvest to help the iron production as were the workers at many factories, schools and even hospitals. Although the output consisted of low quality lumps of pig iron which was of negligible economic worth, Mao had a deep distrust of intellectuals and faith in the power of the mass mobilization of the peasants. Moreover, the experience of the intellectual classes following the Hundred Flowers Campaign silenced those aware of the folly of such a plan. According to his private doctor, Li Zhisui, Mao and his entourage visited traditional steel works in Manchuria in January 1959 where he found out that high quality steel could only be produced in large scale factories using reliable fuel such as coal. However, he decided not to order a halt to the backyard steel furnaces so as not to dampen the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses. The program was only quietly abandoned much later in that year.
Substantial effort was expended during the Great Leap Forward on large-scale, but often on poorly planned capital construction projects, such as irrigation works often built without input from trained engineers. Mao was well aware of the human cost of these water-conservancy campaigns.
In early 1958, while listening to a report on irrigation in Jiangsu, he mentioned that:
"Wu Zhipu claims he can move 30 billion cubic metres; I think 30,000 people will die. Zeng Xisheng has said that he will move 20 billion cubic metres, and I think that 20,000 people will die. Weiqing only promises 600 million cubic metres, maybe nobody will die."
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a radical movement that closed schools, slowed production, and virtually severed China's relations with the outside world. It was proletarian because it was a revolution of the workers against party officials. It was cultural because it meant to alter the values of society in the Communist sense. It was great, because it was on a mammoth scale. It lasted for two years in its intense form, lingered on for another year and a half, and was not officially declared over until 1977. (Photo: Chinese promotion poster saying: "Destroy the old world; Forge the new world." Classical example of the Red art from the early Cultural Revolution. A worker (or possibly Red Guard) crushes the crucifix, Buddha, and classical Chinese texts with his hammer; 1967.)
The Cultural Revolution had its roots in a power struggle between Mao and his supporters, including his wife, Jiang Qing, and Lin Biao--who believed that the initial fervor of the revolution was being lost--and more conservative, bureaucratic elements within the leadership. One point at issue was the educational system, and particularly the fact that urban youth (especially the children of privileged officials) appeared to have a better chance of getting a university education than the children of rural peasants. Mao feared that Chinese society was becoming rigid, and to prevent this he relied for support on the military and on youth.
In the summer of 1966, a group of Beijing high school girls protested against the system of college entrance examinations. The Central Committee acceded to the students' demand by promising a reform and postponing the 1966 enrollment for half a year. Freed from their studies, students demonstrated in Beijing in August, touching off demonstrations of young people in general. Obviously inspired by Mao, youths wearing red armbands and flashing copies of the "little red book" containing Mao's thought (`Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong'), marched through the streets shouting the slogan, "To bypass the Communist party apparatus and force the hierarchy's political foes into submission." These Red Guards, as they were called, were given free railway passes, and they poured into Beijing and other cities in great numbers throughout 1967.(Photo is of Poster extolling the benefits of living under Mao)
In early 1967 some of the highest ranking leaders, former close revolutionary associates of Mao himself, were criticized and dismissed. Liu Shaoqi, who had been president of the republic, Zhu De, and Deng Xiaoping were among the better known victims. Even Confucius was attacked as having been a hypocritical supporter of the bourgeoisie. Throughout the country, revolutionary committees sprang up, seized power from the local government and party authorities, and harassed--and in some cases attacked--those suspected of being disloyal to Mao's thought. (Photo: Two Chinese citizens branded as class enemies being subjected to a struggle session during the Cultural Revolution.)
Lin Biao, Mao's chosen successor, became the most prominent figure during the Cultural Revolution following 1968. In September 1971, China (and the world) was shocked when a plane crashed in Mongolia and Lin was believed to be one of its passengers. This event followed an alleged series of assassination attempts on Mao's life. It is impossible to examine the events related to Lin from 1968-1971 with cogency and accuracy because of the political sensitivities that surround the event until this day. Lin's years in power, and his disputed death have been of interest to historians worldwide, who have never been able to come to a conclusion on the issue. (The poster, displayed in late 1966 in Beijing, shows how to deal with a so-called 'enemy of the people' during the Cultural Revolution.)
See Kaixin's - Lin Biao
Lin Biao is on the right of Mao
The disorders reached a climax in July 1967 in the city of Wuhan, when the local military commander tried to rally the people against the radicals and troops had to be sent in to restore order. From that time on, steps were taken to quiet the more disruptive portions of the Cultural Revolution, though it was not until 1968 that society returned to something resembling normality. In March 1969 the government issued a directive to open all schools. The situation was so chaotic, however, that the universities were not reopened until September 1970.
The Cultural Revolution greatly affected the CCP leadership. When the long-postponed ninth congress of the CCP was finally convened in April 1969, two thirds of the old members of the Central Committee were missing. Mao's attempt to maintain a state of permanent revolution had been immensely costly. Years of work and progress were sacrificed: A whole generation of youth went without education; factories and farms lay idle. China fell even further behind the industrialized powers of the world. As the Cultural Revolution died down, Zhou Enlai, who had been premier since the founding of the People's Republic, quietly took control. Deng Xiaoping and other "pragmatic" leaders were reestablished. The party and government relaxed their control over the people and granted certain civil rights in a new constitution adopted in 1975.
I was born in 1966, the year China the Culture Revolution began. My mother told me, “when I was just born, a nurse held me in her arms, and said, ‘come, look at this girl, she is so pretty, her eyes are so big’. Another nurse who was in the room, standing in front of the window, said, ‘come here and look at the people marching down the street wearing high caps!!!’ ”
They were the people the Gong Chan Party (The Communist Party) had branded as counter-revolutionary. They were being marched down the street as an example.
I will be writing the story of my life, and my family's life, in the time of the Cultural Revolution. I hope you will be interested in seeing China through my eyes.
International Relations of the People's Republic
The People's Republic has undergone several shifts in foreign policy since 1949. Initially, it was closely tied to the Soviet Union and firmly identified as a member of the socialist camp.
Within a few years, however, the Sino-Soviet relationship had begun to deteriorate, the victim, among other factors, of differing national interests, differing interpretations of Marxism, and Chinese resentment over heavy-handed Soviet attempts at control. By the mid-1960s China and the Soviet Union had become openly hostile toward each other.
China was largely isolated from the rest of the world during the height of the Cultural Revolution, but when the upheavals subsided it began to take a more practical foreign policy line. Trade was opened up with a number of Western countries, China started to play an active role in international organizations, and diplomatic relations were established with countries willing to recognize the People's Republic--rather than the Nationalist government on Taiwan--as the government of China. Most dramatically, contacts were begun with the United States, leading to full diplomatic recognition on Jan. 1, 1979. (Photo: Nixon and Mao in 1972)
Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between China and US January 1, 1979
The United States of America and the People’s Republic of China have agreed to recognize each other and to establish diplomatic relations as of January 1, 1979.
The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.
The United States of America and the People’s Republic of China reaffirm the principles agreed on by the two sides in the Shanghai Communique and emphasize once again that:
--Both wish to reduce the danger of international military conflict.
--Neither should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region or in any other region of the world and each is opposed to efforts by any other country or group of countries to establish such hegemony.
--Neither is prepared to negotiate on behalf of any third party or to enter into agreements or understandings with the other directed at other states.
--The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
--Both believe that normalization of Sino-American relations is not only in the interest of the Chinese and American peoples but also contributes to the cause of peace in Asia and the world.
'The United States of America and the People’s Republic of China will exchange Ambassadors and establish Embassies on March 1, 1979.'
While China's political system changed little by the 1990s, its economy had become the fastest-growing in the world. Relations with the United States became unstable on two fronts. The Chinese government refused to allow the human rights concerns to become an issue in trade talks. Trade itself became a major issue, as exports to the United States exceeded imports. In addition, North Korea's probable possession of nuclear weapons posed an unsettling problem for China and the United States in the mid-1990s.
In China Mao Zedong is remembered and revered as the greatest of revolutionaries. His achievements as ruler, however, have been deservedly downgraded because he was among the worst of politicians. He knew well how to make a revolution, but once in power he could not put his love of revolution aside for the sake of governing.
- Xiaosui and I often discuss this point. We say that Mao was the right person to take power in China, he was the wrong person to wield it.
Mao was born on Dec. 26, 1893, in Shaoshan, Hunan Province. His father was a peasant who had become successful as a grain dealer. Mao's schooling was intermittent. During the Revolution of 1911-12 he served in the army for six months. After that he drifted for a while without goals, but he managed to graduate from the First Provincial Normal School in Changsha in 1918. He then sent to Peking University, where he became embroiled in the revolutionary May Fourth Movement. This movement marked the decisive turn in Chinese revolutionary thought in favor of Marxist Communism as a solution to China's problems.
In 1921 Mao helped found the Chinese Communist party. He was at that time a school principal in Hunan. Two years later, when the Communists forged an alliance with Sun Yat-sen's Nationalist party (the Kuomintang), he left work to become a full-time revolutionary. It was at this time that Mao discovered the great potential of the peasant class for making revolution. This realization led him to the brilliant strategy he used to win control of China: gain control of the countryside and encircle the cities.
The Communists and the Nationalists coexisted in an uneasy relationship until the end of World War II. The Nationalist leader after 1925 was Chiang Kai-shek, who was determined to rule China. He never trusted the Communists, and at times he persecuted them. Mao's first wife was executed by the Nationalists in 1930.
The Chinese Soviet Republic was founded in November 1931 in Jiangxi Province. In 1934 Mao and his forces were driven out, and they went northward in what is known as the Long March. By 1935, however, the Communists and Nationalists forged a united front against the Japanese. Rivalry persisted, but the front held until 1945. The revolution that then began ended in 1949 with the Communists victorious.
In addition to his problems with the Nationalists, Mao's dealings with the Soviet Union's Joseph Stalin were always uneasy. Stalin grew wary of a competing Communist power of China's size on the Soviet borders. Mao eventually came to regard the Soviets as revisionists and felt they were traitors to the cause of world revolution.
Mao's title as ruler of China was chairman of the People's Republic. For the first five years he rarely appeared in public and seemed to be only a ceremonial figure. He never achieved the total control in China that Stalin did in the Soviet Union. Many of his comrades were influential in directing policy, often in ways with which Mao disagreed. In 1955 he emerged from isolation determined to play the decisive role in economic policy and political restructuring.
Failing to gain the allegiance of the intellectuals, he turned to the masses with a program called the Great Leap Forward. While not a complete economic disaster, it had severe consequences. After it disrupted both city and countryside, he was forced to retreat from his policies in favor of his opponents. To counter opposition he launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, urged on by his radical wife, Jiang Qing. This vast upheaval wrecked the Communist party bureaucracy, paralyzed education and research, and left the economy almost a shambles.
Only slowly did China begin to recover. By then Mao was old and ill. Other, more moderate hands guided policy. Zhou Enlai seemed to emerge as the nation's real leader when relations were reestablished with the United States.
personality cult remained strong until his death on Sept. 9, 1976. Shortly afterward, however, a power struggle was under way. Members of the party who had been purged by the Cultural Revolution returned to govern China. Chief among them was Deng Xiaoping.
Passing of the old guard
The year 1976 marked the end of an era. Zhou Enlai died in January. Zhu De, who as chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress had been serving as nominal head of state, died in July. Finally, himself, the chairman of the party and the embodiment of the revolution, died in September. Although many elderly leaders remained in positions of power, the old guard (the veterans of the Long March and the civil war) was clearly passing from the scene. (Photo: Zhou Enlai 周恩来 -1st Premier of the People's Republic of China - In office 1 October 1949 – 8 January 1976
There were no provisions for automatic succession. At one time, Lin Biao had been Mao's designated successor, but Lin had died under mysterious circumstances in 1971. The stage was set for a power struggle, with the initial advantage going to the radical faction. Zhou's death left the moderate pragmatists in a weakened position, and Deng Xiaoping, as their most visible leader, came under immediate attack.
In April the people staged an unusual demonstration to protest the removal, by the police, of memorial wreaths honoring Zhou from Beijing's Tiananmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace leading to the old Forbidden City). With this as an excuse, the radicals blamed Deng for the disorders and dismissed him from office. But the radicals, in turn, lost their protector when Mao died. Within a month, the "Gang of Four" radical leaders, including Jiang Qing, Mao's widow, were arrested, and Deng was reinstated once again. The Gang of Four were subsequently tried and convicted of various crimes against the state. They became a convenient scapegoat for the new leadership, which did not wish to blame China's ills on Mao directly. (Photo: Marshal Zhu De 1st Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China - In office September 27, 1954 – April 27, 1959)
In the following years, the pragmatists consolidated their position. Although he did not take any of the main party or government positions, Deng emerged as the outstanding figure within the leadership. An elderly man himself, he brought in younger men who shared his views. The new policies were confirmed in the party and state constitutions adopted in 1982. These included accelerating China's economic development by the best possible means; for example, by rewarding good work, even if this resulted in some inequalities in society. Steps were also taken to prevent the concentration of power that had marked Mao's time. Thus, the new state constitution limited state leaders to two consecutive terms. (Photo: Deng Xiaoping Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China - In office 22 December 1978 - 12 October 1992)
Nevertheless, the new leadership remained firmly committed to Communism. The 1982 constitution stated again the Four Fundamental Principles that should guide the society: the leadership of the Communist party, the "people's democratic dictatorship," the socialist road, and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. The new constitution allowed a greater measure of political freedom and civil rights, and legal safeguards were introduced. It was evident, however, that there were limits to the new liberalization. After an early period during which considerable freedom of speech was allowed, the post-Mao leadership began to warn against destructive criticism.
The Four Modernizations
The new regime's goal was the development of China's economy by means of the Four Modernizations: of agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology. The Four Modernizations were first announced by Zhou at the tenth party congress in 1973, when the country was just starting its slow recovery from the Cultural Revolution. The new leadership under placed great stress on them, with the aim of bringing China into the front rank among the world's nations. (Photo Reads: "Struggle to Realize the Four Modernizations")
To achieve the ambitious aims of the program, the new leadership replaced the Maoist dogma of stressing the revolutionary spirit, the "red," with the practical value of the "expert." In education, academic achievements were emphasized, and nationwide college entrance examinations were reinstated. In industry, the authority of experts was reasserted. In agriculture, peasants were allowed private plots. Some overambitious projects were begun, and some replanning proved necessary. Nevertheless, the Chinese were cautiously optimistic that they would attain their goals. They set a reasonable economic growth rate of 7.2 percent per year and began a rigorous campaign to slow the rate of population increase. They hoped that these measures would quadruple industrial and agricultural production by the year 2000. In 1987 retired and was succeeded by Zhao Ziyang as general secretary and Li Peng as premier.
DENG XIAOPING (born 1904 - 1997)
During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, China's Communist government publicly humiliated Deng Xiaoping by parading him through the national capital in a dunce cap. Yet, after the deaths of Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong in 1976, he emerged as his country's paramount leader. Whether in exile or in power, Deng was long acclaimed as a reformer who resisted rigid Communist ideology. But his image was tarnished in mid-1989 when he ordered a military crackdown on the student pro-democracy movement. At the same time the government began to build a personality cult around the aging, ailing survivor of purges who had once belittled the similar deification of Mao. Deng Xiaoping was born on Aug. 22, 1904, to a wealthy family in Sichuan Province. At age 16 he went to Paris to study. While there he was befriended by Zhou. After he returned home in 1924, Deng joined the Communist party and was sent to the Soviet Union for another year of study. In the political movement led by Mao, he started out as an underground organizer. He participated in the Long March of 1934-35.
became a vice-premier in 1952, the party secretary in 1954, and a member of the ruling Politburo in 1955. During the Cultural Revolution radical Maoists condemned him as a bourgeois "freak." In 1973 he was rehabilitated under Zhou, and, as the most senior vice-premier, became the effective head of the government during Zhou's later illness. But Mao's supporters were alarmed by his efforts to promote economic reform through "capitalist methods of production." Instead of succeeding Zhou when the premier died, Deng was banished by the radical Gang of Four, an elite group of Mao's supporters led by Mao's wife, Jiang Qing (Shown in the Photo).
The Gang of Four was the name given to a leftist political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and were subsequently charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The members consisted of Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's last wife and the leading figure of the group, and her close associates Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.
The Gang of Four at the trail in 1981
The Gang of Four effectively controlled the power organs of the Communist Party of China through the latter stages of the Cultural Revolution, although it remains unclear which major decisions were made through Mao Zedong and carried out by the Gang, and which were the result of the Gang of Four's own planning. The Gang of Four, together with disgraced Communist general Lin Biao, were labeled the two major "counter-revolutionary forces" of the Cultural Revolution and officially blamed for the worst excesses of the societal chaos that ensued during the ten years of turmoil. Their downfall in a coup d'état on October 6, 1976, a mere month after Mao's death, brought about major celebrations on the streets of Beijing and marked the end of a turbulent political era in China.
After Mao's death, the Gang of Four lost power. Until 1980-81 Deng struggled for supreme control with Hua Guofeng, Mao's chosen successor, but he finally engineered the promotions of his own proteges--Zhao Ziyang as premier and Hu Yaobang as party secretary. In late 1987, to force the resignation of senior leaders, Deng gave up his own committee posts. At the beginning of the year Hu Yaobang had been ousted because his leniency toward dissidents and his support of Western-style democracy were blamed for a rash of student demonstrations for reform. In Deng's next effort to establish the line of succession, Zhao took over the party leadership.(Photo: Students mourn Hu Yaobang)
For the rebellious Chinese students, Hu's disgrace had made him a martyr; his death on April 15, 1989, became the catalyst for more aggressive pro-democracy demonstrations that ended in the massacre of unarmed marchers in Peking (Beijing) on June 4. Deng's other designated heir, Zhao, was removed because he favored concessions to the protesters. A new leader, Jiang Zemin, was chosen for his law-and-order stance during similar demonstrations in Shanghai. General Secretary Jiang next took over Deng's chairmanship of the party's Central Military Commission in November 1989. resigned from his last official post in March 1990. (Photo: President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush welcome Chinese President Jiang Zemin and his wife Wang Yeping to their home in Crawford, Texas -- General Secretary of the Communist Party of China - In office 24 June 1989 - 15 November 2002)
President Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao, born 21 December 1942, in Taizhou, Jiangsu is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang Zemin as the top leader of fourth generation leadership of the Communist Party of China.
Hu possesses a low-key and reserved leadership style.His rise to the presidency represents China's transition of leadership from old, hard-core communists to younger, more pragmatic technocrats. Since his ascendancy, Hu has reinstated certain controls on the economy relaxed by the previous administration, and has been highly conservative in his attitude to political reforms.In foreign policy, Hu advocates for an approach termed "China's peaceful development", pursuing soft power in international relations. Through Hu's tenure, China's global influence in Africa, Latin America, and other developing countries has increased.
Hu has been involved in the Communist party bureaucracy for most of his adult life, notably as party chief for the Tibet Autonomous Region, and then later Secretary of the Secretariat of CPC and Vice-President under Jiang Zemin. Hu's political philosophy is summarily described as aiming to found a basis for Harmonious Society domestically and for Peaceful Development internationally, the former generated by a Scientific Development Concept, which seeks integrated solutions to tackle China's various economic, environmental and social problems.(Wikipedia)
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
15 November 2002
Preceded by Jiang Zemin
President of the People's Republic of China
15 March 2003
Premier: Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao, born 15 September 1942 is the sixth and current Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, serving as China's head of government and leading its cabinet. In his capacity as Premier, Wen is regarded as the leading figure behind China's economic policy. He also holds membership in the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, the country's de facto top power organ, where he is ranked third out of nine members.
Wen has a professional background in geology and engineering. He holds a postgraduate degree from the Beijing Institute of Geology, where he graduated in 1968. He was subsequently sent to Gansu province for geological work, and remained in China's hinterland regions during his climb up the bureaucratic ladder. He was transferred to Beijing to work as the head of the Party General Office between 1986 and 1993, and accompanied General Secretary Zhao Ziyang to Tiananmen Square during the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. In 1998, he was promoted to the post of Vice Premier under Zhu Rongji, his mentor, and oversaw the broad portfolios of agriculture and finance.
Since taking office as Premier in 2003, Wen, along with President Hu Jintao, has been a key part of the fourth generation of leadership in the Communist Party of China. Soft-spoken and known for his strong work ethic, Wen has been one of the most visible members of the incumbent Chinese administration, and has been dubbed "the people's premier" by both domestic and foreign media.
Described as having a commoner background and a populist approach to policy, Wen's domestic agenda marked a considerable shift from the previous administration. Instead of concentrating on GDP growth in large cities and rich coastal areas, Wen advocated for a more balanced approach in developing China's hinterland regions, and advancing policies considered more favourable towards farmers and migrant workers. Internationally, Wen played a key role in China's response to the global financial crisis and subsequent stimulus program.(Wikipedia)
Premier of the People's Republic of China
Assumed office 16 March 2003
Xi Jinping (born 15 June 1953) is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, the President of the People's Republic of China, and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. As General Secretary, he is also an ex officio member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee, China's de facto top decision-making body. Son of communist veteran Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping rose through the ranks politically in China's coastal provinces. He served as the Governor of Fujian between 1999 and 2002, then as Governor and CPC party chief of the neighboring Zhejiang between 2002 and 2007. Following the dismissal of Chen Liangyu, Xi was transferred to Shanghai as the party secretary for a brief period in 2007. Xi was promoted to the central leadership in October 2007, groomed to become Hu Jintao's successor. Xi is now the leader of the People's Republic's fifth generation of leadership.He has called for a renewed campaign against corruption, continued market economic reforms, an open approach to governance, and a comprehensive national renewal under the neologism "Chinese Dream".
A Brief History of China from Huang Di (the first Emperor) to Chairman Mao
Five thousands years have passed since the first Chinese writing. China has lived under 24 dynasties and about 400 Emperors The past is the mirror of Today. Anciet Chinese Proverb.