Chinese Civilization


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Chinese Civilization

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION: In Asia, a civilization developed many thousands of years ago that still endures to this day. This civilization is the Chinese Civilization. Like the Indus Valley Civilization, China’s strength lied in the fact that it was cut off from the rest of the world. Surrounded by oceans, mountains, and by the Gobi Desert, their homeland was virtually inaccessible to outside invaders. Having little contact with the outside world, the Chinese Civilization grew a strong sense of nationalism. They believed that China was the most important and greatest of all civilizations, and that they were the Center of the Earth. China has a long, rich and mysterious history - almost 5,000 years of it! China is recognized as one of the four great ancient civilizations of the world, together with ancient Egypt, Babylon and India. Moreover, it is the only ancient civilization that has continued to this very day. China was one of the cradles of the human race. The Chinese nation is not only the most populous but also one of the oldest in the world. Chinese society has progressed through five major stages - Primitive Society, Slave Society, Feudal Society, Semi-feudal and Semi-colonial Society, and Socialist Society. The rise and fall of the great dynasties forms a thread that runs through Chinese history, almost from the beginning. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1st, 1949, China has become a socialist society and become stronger and stronger. PRIMITIVE SOCIETY: Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, but the Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. The period from about 1,700,000 years ago to the establishment of the Xia Dynasty in the 21 century BC is known as the Primitive Society. As people who lived during this period developed the use of stone tools, this age is also called the Stone Age. According to the different implements people used then, the age is divided into two periods: the Paleolithic Age and the Neolithic Age. The Paleolithic Age was characterized by the use of some simple tools. It is said that Yuanmou Man lived 1,700,000 years ago and was the earliest man in China known to the people. Lantian Man and Peking Man also lived during the Paleolithic Age. The Neolithic Age was a more advanced period compared to the Paleolithic Age. People built houses and began to farm by using grinding stones. Extraordinary advancements were made
  2. 2. during this period, whether in spinning and carving skills, or in vehicle making techniques, and music. The famous Yangshao Culture and Longshan Culture belonged to this age. SLAVE SOCIETY: (Xia Dynasty - Shang Dynasty - Zhou Dynasty) In China, slave society began around the 21st century B.C. The Chinese have been ruled by a succession of dynasties. A dynasty is a family that passes the right to rule the nation from one generation to the next. Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in Chinese history. The establishment of the Xia Dynasty (21st - 17th century BC) is an important milestone in the history of Chinese civilization and marks the end of the Primitive Society and the beginning of the Slave Society. With the Xia Dynasty, China entered slave society. The following Shang (1600-1046 B.C.) and Western Zhou (1046-771 B.C.) dynasties saw further development of slave society. This era was followed by the Spring and Autumn (770-476 B.C.) and Warring States (475-221 B.C.) periods, characterized by the decline in power of the ruling house and struggles for power among regional powers, marking the transition from slave society to feudal society. During these years, agriculture and animal husbandry developed greatly and the skills of silkworm-raising, raw-silk reeling and silk-weaving spread widely. Bronze smelting and casting skills reached a relatively high level, and iron smelting became increasingly sophisticated. During the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods, there was a great upsurge of intellectual activity, producing many famous philosophers, such as Lao Zi, Confucius, Mencius and Mo Zi, and the well-known military scientist Sun Wu. In the year 221 BC, Qin defeated the other six states which existed during the Warring States Period and unified China. Thus, history moved forward to a new age called the Qin Dynasty. FEUDAL SOCIETY: (Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, Northern and Southern Dynasties, Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Liao Dynasty, Western Xia Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty) In 221 B.C., Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, established a centralized, unified, multi-national feudal state. Qin Dynasty was the first unified, multi-national and power- centralized state in the Chinese history. It lasted from 221 BC to 207 BC. Although surviving only 15 years, the dynasty held an important role in Chinese history and it exerted great influence on
  3. 3. the following dynasties. This period of feudal society continued until after the Opium War in 1840. During these 2,000 years, China's economy and culture continued to develop, producing a rich heritage of science and technology, literature and the arts. The four great inventions of ancient China - paper-making, printing, the compass and gunpowder - have proved an enormous contribution to world civilization. Chinese civilization peaked at Tang Dynasty (618-907) when Tang people traded with people all over the world. This is why Chinese residing overseas often call themselves Tang Ren, or the People of Tang. The Qing (Manchu) Dynasty (1644-1912) was China's last dynasty. At the beginning, the Qing court carried out a series of policies to revive the social economy and alleviate the class contradiction. By the middle of the 18th century, the feudal economy of the Qing Dynasty reached its peak, spanning the reign of Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Yongzheng and Emperor Qianlong. So that period was usually called 'the golden age of three emperors'. After the middle period, all kinds of social contradictions increasingly surfaced and Qing began to decline. Under the corrupt ruling of the later rulers, various rebellions and uprisings broke out. SEMI-FEUDAL S AND SEMI-COLONIAL SOCIETY: In 1840, anxious to continue its opium trade in China, Britain started the Opium War against China. When the Opium War broke out, the Qing court was faced with troubles at home and aggression from abroad. Qing Dynasty established by the Manchu was once glorious for some 200 years but declined at the beginning of the 19th century, during which the British Empire output a great deal of opium to China, which aroused opium prohibition by the Qing authority. To proceed with the opium output, the British Empire started the First Opium War (Britain's invasion of China, 1840-1842) and the defeated Qing government was forced to sign the unequal “Treaty of Nanjing”, including ceding Hong Kong to British as colony. Then In the Second Opium War (1856-1860) against the British and French allied forces, China was weakened further and lost more and more in sovereignty and territory. After the war, the big foreign powers forcibly occupied "concessions" and divided China into "spheres of influence"; thus, China was transformed into a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society. The Chinese Revolution led by Sun Yat-sen in 1911 overthrew the Empire of Qing, bringing two thousand years of Chinese feudal monarchy to an end and the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) was founded based on the Chinese Revolutionary Party at the same year.
  4. 4. SOCIALIST SOCIETY: (Republic of China (1912–1949), 1949 to present) In 1911, the bourgeois democratic revolution (the Xinhai Revolution) led by Sun Yat-sen abolished the feudal monarchy, and established the Republic of China, therefore starting the modern history of China. The monarchical system that had been in place in China for more than 2,000 years was discarded with the founding of the provisional government of the Republic of China. The Revolution of 1911 is of great significance in modern Chinese history. In 1949, Chinese Communist Party established the People's Republic of China, driving Kumingtang Party to Taiwan Island. Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China In 1978, China adopted the Open Door policy, ending the 5000 thousand's history of self seclusion. CONCLUSION: Modern China is experiencing a completely new era in which respect for science and inventions and encourage creativity have become the guiding principles of society. Looking back at the contributions China's civilization has made to the world, we have reason to believe that a more prosperous and stronger China will surely make new contributions to the civilization of mankind.