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History of China


China has one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The Chinese have had a troubled past filled with uprisings and revolts and occasional periods of peace and prosperity. Yet in spite of the unfavorable conditions, arts and sciences, religion and philosophy have flourished. The China of today is a communist state with pro-development policies and a distinct leaning towards free market capitalism. However structures like the Great Wall are witness to the ancient times. The sheer length and size and it's innumerable guard posts clearly indicate that the history of Great Wall was one of troubled times when raids by barbaric horsemen and neighboring states were common.

The important periods of Chinese History are differentiated by the names of the leading Dynasties, which were in power at that time.

The different Eras of Chinese History as documented are -
  • The Pre-Imperial Era (ending in 222 BC)

  • Early Imperial Era (221 BC – 220 AD)

  • Intermediate Era I (220-581 AD)

  • Middle Imperial Era (581-907 AD)

  • Intermediate Era II (907-979 AD)

  • Third Imperial Era (960-1367 AD)

  • Modern Era (1368 AD to present)

Historians estimate around 23 periods of Chinese history, these historical periods were either dominated by a particular Dynasty or a group of rulers belonging to a collective conglomerate in power.

The Important Periods of Chinese History according to the famous Dynasties -
  • Xia Dynasty (2257 – 1127 BC)

  • Shang Dynasty (1765 – 1122 BC)

  • Zhou Dynasty (1121 – 222 BC)

  • Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BC)

  • Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD)

  • Sanguo Dynasty (220 – 280 AD)

  • Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 AD)

  • Sui Dynasty (581 – 618 AD)

  • Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD)

  • Song Dynasty (960 – 1267 AD)

  • Liao Dynasty (907 – 1125 AD)

  • Xixia Dynasty (1032 – 1227 AD)

  • Kin Dynasty (1115 – 1234 AD)

  • Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1277 – 1367 AD)

  • Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD)

  • Qing Dynasty (1644 -1911)

A Concise Chinese History, from Imperial times to the Present People's Republic of China -

Not much is known about Chinese History before the Shang Period. It is assumed that a Chinese script first came into form during the Shang Rule. The Zhou period is known as an era of great turmoil when various Warring States opposed the Central Leadership. A Feudal administrative system was followed among the states.

Paradoxically this period is one of the most productive in Philosophy and Literature. The writings by followers Confucius are Lao Tzu are said to have originated from this period. The advent of the Qin Dynasty ended the feudal era and established the first Imperial Chinese State . The rule of the Emperor was totalitarian and any deviation from the prescribed code of law was strictly dealt with.


The following Han Rule is said to be one of the golden periods in History. Buddhism was introduced in China and a Confucian canon was produced. The leadership of the Han Rulers was then challenged by the Sanguo or Three Kingdoms Dynasty. This period is assumed to be the time of the Taoist Rising since people were disappointed in the fact that Confucianism failed to keep the Han Empire together. A series of inconsequential periods, of general disharmony and unremarkable governance followed.

The Tang Dynasty was then established. The Emperor assisted by Chinese civil servants or Mandarins, ruled the vast territories. This was a relatively peaceful time and Buddhism and Chinese poetry flourished. An important event in this period was also the growing cosmopolitanism because of China's trade with countries and civilizations across the world.

The Mongol uprising from the North, led by the enterprising Kublai Khan , swept over China in the mid-13 th century. This is a well-documented period in Chinese History , not just by native historians but also by foreign travelers like the impressionable Marco Polo . The Mongol period was followed by the rule of the Ming Dynasty . The Chinese Government of this period was well-organized and effectively maintained peace and established fruitful trading relationships with foreign countries. There is documented evidence of visits by European Missionaries and the influence of Christian theology on Chinese thinkers .

The Ming Period is also credited with the distinctive Blue pottery and the development of the Chinese Novel. The Qing Dynasty followed, when once again problems regarding governance arose. This is one of the most difficult periods of Chinese History . There was a brutal siege by Japan . European countries hoping to profit from trading in Opium also attacked the country. An ineffective militia and dissatisfied internal state of affairs brings the Chinese dynastic rule to an end. The Kuomintang has a brief period of power, after which from 1911 onwards, the Republic of China was formed. In 1949, Mao Zedong announced the formation the People's Republic of China.

Last Updated on: October 12th, 2017