The civilization of China is one of the oldest in the world, dating back for nearly 4, 000 years.
Since the early times Chinese were deeply concerned with achieving good government.
Following the ideals and ethics of the philosopher Confucius, they developed a system in which government officials were chosen by merit.
The Chinese Lasting Traditions
It endured for hundreds of years, surviving the rise and fall of many ruling houses and the constant threat of invasion.
China’s first civilization, like those in the Near East and India, developed along a great river – The Yellow River (Huang Ho)
Timeline of Chinese Civilization
XIA (2205-1766 B.C.E., 440 years)
Agriculture and first writing. In Henan, palace-like buildings and tombs have been excavated, the earliest known bronze vessels have also been found. "....., the Neolithic period is represented in the area by profuse remains of stone tools and pottery. These can be matched by many countries, but they were followed in this part of China by a bronze age culture unrivalled anywhere in the world in the technical skills of its vessels and implements."
SHANG (1766-1122 B.C.E., 645 years )
Also known as Yin. Much of the information available on Shang society comes from inscriptions made on the shoulder-blades of oxen and shells of turtles, known as the "oracle bones". Over 150,000 fragments of oracle bones have now been identified.
ZHOU (1122-221 B.C.E., 902 years)
Developed iron tools, society, money and written laws. Confucius lived approximately 551-479 BC. About 300 years after his death, Confucius' teachings were made the dominant creed of the Han dynasty, and have since influenced the thought and behavior of the people in China, Japan and other parts of Asia. Among his teachings: "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." Buddha , originally Siddhartha Gautama, founder of Buddhism, lived in India at about the time of Confucius. About 500 years after Confucius died, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea.
QIN (221-206 B.C.E., 16 years)
King Zheng was born in 259 and died in 210 B.C. at age 50. After having annexed six other independent kingdoms of the Warring States Period, in 221 B.C. he founded the first unified feudal empire in Chinese history and began the Qin Dynasty. He proclaimed himself "Shihuang Di", meaning, "the First Emperor". Though the dynasty lasted only 15 years, many of the institutions of later Chinese imperial governments first took shape in this period.
HAN (206 B.C.-220 C.E., 426 years )
Art, literature, philosophy, music and statecraft flourished in the golden age of Han. Paper first mentioned in 105 A.D. Confucius' teachings were made the dominant creed and cornerstone of Chinese thought. Buddhism from India was introduced to China. (The Roman Empire was found during the Han dynasty, and came to an end before Tang.)
PERIOD OF DISUNITY (220-589, 370 years)
For 370 years following Han's collapse, a number of kingdoms and dynasties emerged and fought each other for domination. The regimes emerged in this period include: the Three Kingdoms of Wei, Shu and Wu (220-280), the Jin Dynasty (265-420), and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589). Prolonged fighting caused much suffering among the people. Against this background, popularity of Buddhism and Taoism grew substantially.
SUI (581-618, 38 years)
Reunification, major civil service reforms, victory in taming the Turks of Central Asia, fortified the Great Wall, rebuilt the capital city of Luoyang, completed Grand Canal, the longest man-made river in the world.
TANG (618-907, 290 years)
The second emperor, Li Shimin, an exceptionally talented statesman and military strategist, started his reins in 627 and made Tang probably the most glorious dynasty in Chinese history. Empire greatly expanded; period of excellence in sculpture, painting and poetry; oldest extant printed book published in 868; influence by Central Asia in dance and music. Japan copied much of Tang culture and institutions, and adopted Chinese characters as her form of written language. The capital city of Chang'an was a cosmopolitan city of wealth and splendor unparallel in the world.
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960, 54 years)
Tang's collapse was followed by fifty-some yeas of chaos. In this period, known as the Age of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms , fifteen regimes emerged in quick succession. First use of paper money was reported.
Song (960-1279, 320 years)
Enjoyed calm and growth between 960 and 997, a new class of wealthy common people emerged, and printing (movable type) invented. Zhu Xi synthesized Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism into a new ideology. In the next 200 years Song was beleaguered by invasions from three formidable ethnic minority kingdoms: Liao of the Khitan, Xia of the Tibtan/Tangut, and Jin of the JurchenTartarss tribes. Mongols first annexed northern China, and in 1279 exterminated Song. Historians divided Song into Northern Song (960-1126) and Southern Song (1127-1279) based on the location of the capital. In the Southern Song period, China's inventions - gunpowder, the compass, pottery, porcelain, and printing technology - began to spill into Europe via sea route.
Yuan (1271-1368, 98 years)
Genghis Khan (1162-1227), the Mongol conqueror, united the Mongol tribes, annexed northern China, central Asia, Iran, southern Russia, eastern Europe and created the largest empire in history. In 1279 Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, exterminated Song and established the Yuan dynasty with its capital in Beijing. This is the first alien regime to rule China. Kublai Khan kept Chinese government institutions intact, continued the Confucian ideology and restored the civil service examination. He also facilitated commercial and cultural exchanges between China and the outside world. Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant, spent 20 years in China (1275-1295). His travelogue was the only account of the Far East available to Europeans until the 17th century.
Ming (1368-1644, 277 years)
Mongols were driven out by native Chinese; Beijing flourished as new capital; "With hindsight we can see that the Ming dynasty, whose emperors had ruled China since 1368, was past its political peak by the early seventeenth century; yet in the years around 1600, China’s cultural life was in an ebullient condition that few, if any, other countries could match."
Qing (1644-1911, 267 years)
Ming conquered by nomads from Manchuria, China once again under non-Chinese rule; culture flourished, but conservatism eventually led to the dynasty's demise; western powers, Russia and Japan defeated China to impose their requests for trade and other advantages; nationalistic revolutionaries led by Sun Yatsen overthrew Qing in 1911 and ended the last dynasty of China.
Qing (1644-1911, 267 years)
"Thus ended the world’s most remarkable span of imperial history. It was 2133 years since Shi Huangdi had first unified China. His hope of countless emperors from his own line had been soon frustrated, but the generations of rulers following him on that same imperial throne had been as near to countless as history is likely to come. One loses a normal sense of time in writing or reading of China. Comparison with two of the world’s other great empires can serve perhaps to put her dynasties into some sort of perspective. The Roman Empire was founded during the Han dynasty and came to an end in the gap between the Han and the Tang. The British Empire began early in the Qing dynasty and barely survived it."
Republic of China (1911- )
Intense efforts by diverse elite groups to refashion China into a modern state; chaos and wars among local warlords and political factions; bitter strife between the Nationalists and Communists. Japan invaded China with unprecedented brutality. Defeated by the U.S., Japan surrendered in 1945, and struggle between the Nationalists and Communists restarted. Defeated by the Communists in 1949, the Nationalists evacuated to the island of Taiwan and has since developed Taiwan into one of the most prosperous economies in Asia.
People's Republic of China (1949- )
The Communists defeated the Nationalists and founded the People's Republic in 1949. As of this writing in 2005, China is fast changing and emerging as a major economic power.
China is situated in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific in the east. The third largest country in the world, next to Canada and Russia, it has an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, or one-fifteenth of the world's landmass.
The Chinese border stretches over 22,000 kilometers on land and its coastline extends well over 18,000 kilometers, washed by the waters of the Bohai Sea, the Huanghai, the East China and the South China Seas. The Bohai Sea is China's only inland sea.
Full Country Name: People's Republic of China Area: 9,596,960 sq km (mainland) Population: 1.25 billion (mainland) Capital City: Beijing (pop 13.8 million) People: Han Chinese (93%), plus 55 ethnic minorities Official Language: Putonghua (Beijing Mandarin dialect) Religion: Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Muslim, Christian Government: Communist republic Current Head of State: Hu Jintao GDP: US$4.5 trillion GDP per Head: US$3600 Growth Rate: 7.8%
National Flag: The national flag of China was adopted at the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held in September 1949, shortly before the founding of the People's Republic of China.The flag of the People's Republic of China is red in color and it has five yellow stars. The color red symbolizes the spirit of the revolution, and the five stars signify the unity of the people of China under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party . The flag first went up in Tiananmen Square on October1, 1949, upon the formal announcement that People's Republic of China was founded.
National Emblem: The design of the national emblem of the People's Republic of China, published by the Central People's Government on September 20, 1950, shows Tiananmen under the light of five stars, and it is framed with ears of grain and cogwheel. Tiananmen is the symbol of modern China because the May 4th Movement of 1919, which marked the beginning of the new-democratic revolution in China, was launched there.
National Anthem: The words for the national anthem were written by Tian Han, and the music was set by Nie Er in 1935. Originally known as the March of the Volunteers , it was the theme song of The Sons and Daughters in Times of Turmoil, a film that depicted how Chinese intellectuals marched bravely to the front in the War of Resistance Against Japan during the Second World War.
Sonorous, militant and inspiring, the song describes the wrath of the Chinese people against imperialist aggression and their determination to protect their motherland against foreign, invaders. During the Second World War it was also sung by people of other countries who sympathized with the Chinese people in their anti-Japanese struggle. In 1949 it was appropriately chosen to be the national anthem of the People's Republic of China.
Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves; With our very flesh and blood Let us build our new Great Wall! The Peoples of China are in the most critical time, Everybody must roar his defiance. Arise! Arise! Arise! Millions of hearts with one mind, Brave the enemy's gunfire, March on! Brave the enemy's gunfire, March on! March on! March on, on !