China History

China History

Archaeological finds indicate that the area around today’s capital Beijing was settled around 500,000 years ago (Homo erectus pekinensis). Probably large parts of today’s China were already populated by humans in the Paleolithic Age. Tools and ceramics from the Yanshao culture are known from the Neolithic period (approx. 6th to 4th millennium before the beginning of the Christian era), whose settlement area was in the area around the Huang He River. The following Longshan culture in the 3rd millennium BC. already included the technique of bronze casting.

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Around the 16th century BC Evidence attests to the first Chinese high culture of the Shang Dynasty, the focus of which was on the Great Plain and in parts of the Yangtsekiang Valley. Finds point to cities that were fortified by walls. There was a feudal system that, along with the rulers and the nobility, also gave the priesthood a powerful position. A symbol font with around 2,000 characters was used.

The empire of the Shang was founded around 1000 BC. Replaced by the Chou dynasty, this empire expanded until around 770 BC. and represented a hierarchically structured feudal state. Over the next few centuries, independent principalities gained more and more power over the kings of the Chou dynasty, from around 480 BC. began the so-called “time of the fighting empires”, in which over 100 small states fought each other. Nevertheless, there was a cultural unity, shaped, among other things, by the philosophical teachings of Confucius (Kong Fu Zi, 551-479 BC) and Laozi. Over the centuries, the number of minor empires decreased, from around 247 BC. the Qin Empire under Emperor Zheng succeeded in subjugating the other empires. Zheng founded as “Shih Huang-ti” (illustrious emperor) in 221 BC. the Chinese Empire with the capital Chang’an (Xi’an). Until 210 BC he was able to enlarge the empire to the west and north (Manchuria) and had it secured by a large coherent wall (the forerunner of the Great Wall) against the attacks of the Huns coming from the north (Hsiung-Nu). Inside, the emperor ruled autocratically, deprived the nobility and put the administration of the country in the hands of officials. The currency, dimensions and writing of the empire were standardized. This did not happen without popular opposition, against which the emperor acted rigorously (213 BC. Confucius’ works burned).

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After the death of Emperor Zheng, the Qin Dynasty quickly lost power due to the ongoing uprisings of the people. A leader of the rebels, Liu Pang, founded around 207 BC. the until 220 AD ruling Han Dynasty, in which feudalistic and centralistic elements were initially united. The construction of the Great Wall continued after new territorial gains in the south and east of the country, the administration of the increasingly centralized country was in the hands of the so-called “tangerine”, the imperial officials. Confucianism gained in importance again, as Buddhism was popular with the population. From the middle of the 2nd century AD. was engaged in lively trade with other Asian countries in western China via the so-called “Silk Road”, at times the trade relations reached into the Mediterranean.

After the end of the Han Dynasty in 220 AD there was no unified empire for a long period until the end of the 6th century AD. the country was characterized by religious and territorial power struggles, which led to loss of territory and economic decline of the individual empires. Then followed from 581 AD. the Sui dynasty, which again established a centralized empire with the capital Chang’an. Emperor Weng-Ti succeeded in repelling the Huns who had invaded the north of the country and built a trading and war fleet that made China a naval power. To connect the interior of the country, the 1500 km long so-called Kaiser Canal was built, which connected the Yellow River and the Long River. The Tang dynasty that followed from 618 under Emperor Goazu was characterized by stability and a series of reforms, including that of civil servants: the mandarins had to prove their suitability and education in rigorous tests. Buddhism had become the religion that governed the state. The heyday of culture led to the production of porcelain and around 870 to the invention of printing. Competing empires such as the Tibetan Empire and peasant uprisings led to the fall of the Tang Dynasty towards the end of the 9th century century. Competing empires such as the Tibetan Empire and peasant uprisings led to the fall of the Tang Dynasty towards the end of the 9th century.

The unity of the empire fell apart: in 907 the alliance of the “Five Dynasties” (Liang, Tang, Ch’in, Han, Chu) ruled in the north of the country, and several smaller empires were established in southern China. Only Emperor Taizong united again from 960 China and founded the Song dynasty, which was the dominant political power until 1279. The Chin empire of the Djudj people founded in Manchuria in 1126 led to a shift in the political center of the Song empire to the southern part of China. In 1138 the imperial residence was relocated to Hangzhou (today: Shanghai).

In the 13th century the Mongols conquered all of China under Genghis Khan or his successors and made it part of the Mongolian empire. Kublai ascended to the Chinese throne as Emperor Shizu in 1280 and founded the Mongolian-Chinese Yuan dynasty with Khanbaluk (now Beijing) as a political center. The country opened up under the Mongol emperors, European travelers visited the emperor’s court. The practiced religious tolerance led, among other things, to the fact that Islam could spread in some regions in western China. In 1325, a great famine in China led to the death of around eight million Chinese, which corresponded to about 12% of the population at that time.

In 1368, the Mongols’ foreign rule was ended by uprisings. Emperor Taizu, a Buddhist monk, founded the Ming Dynasty, which produced a total of 17 emperors. Agricultural reforms, the expansion of the maritime trade fleet and the “Grand Canal” led to an economic recovery in the country, at the same time the country increasingly sealed itself off from external influences. Against the constant Mongol attacks in the north of the country, the “Great Wall” was strengthened and extended to a length of around 6,000 km. Under the Ming emperors, the class of officials lost political power. From the beginning of the 17th century, the Ming dynasty began to lose importance, famines led to a series of popular uprisings. The Manchu invaded from the north, a connection of tribes living in Manchuria to the weakened empire before and conquered Beijing. They founded the Qing Dynasty (also: Manchu Dynasty), which was dominant in China until 1912. In 1662 the Manchu ruled all of China, and the country experienced a political and economic heyday under its emperors. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the empire was expanded to include the island of Taiwan, Mongolia, Tibet and Burma. In the mid-18th century, the Chinese population was around 300 million people.

Despite the at times marked xenophobia of the Chinese emperors, trade relations with the European powers Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and Great Britain had developed since the beginning of the 16th century. The British and Portuguese in particular had established a trading base in China. At the end of the 17th century, European trade in China was limited by appropriate measures. The British East India Company’s trade in opium, which was imported illegally by India and led to a rapid increase in drug addicts in China, flourished in the first half of the 19th century. In 1839, the Chinese Emperor Dao Guang passed a law that prohibited the possession of opium. At the same time, British stocks in the port of Guangzhou were destroyed. This procedure triggered the so-called “opium war” between the two countries, which lasted until 1842 and ended with Britain’s victory. The Nanking peace treaty stipulated that China would have to open several ports for British trade, cede Hong Kong to Britain and pay a large war indemnity. Other western powers, such as France and the United States, also concluded similar contracts with China in the following decades (the so-called unequal contracts), which were signed by the Chinese leadership under duress. The general freedom of trade and the opening of Chinese rivers to ships belonging to foreign companies meant that the Chinese economy suffered great losses as a result of the country’s inundation with foreign goods to foreign companies meant that the Chinese economy suffered great losses as a result of the country’s inundation with foreign goods. The general freedom of trade and the opening of Chinese rivers to ships belonging to foreign companies meant that the Chinese economy suffered great losses as a result of the country’s inundation with foreign goods.

In 1858, the Amur River between Russia and China was set as the state border, causing the Empire to lose territories. China also suffered a defeat in the conflict with Japan over the island of Formosa (Taiwan) and Korea (1st Sino-Japanese War 1894/95). Korea and Formosa Island were occupied by Japan. China lost further territories to European powers (Annam in Vietnam to France, Macao to Portugal, Burma to Great Britain) and lost its power in Asia.

Domestically, the Chinese empire was weakened by uprisings in the second half of the 19th century, such as the Taiping uprising, which claimed the lives of around 25 million people. Towards the end of the century, a group of Chinese nationalists joined forces in the struggle against the division of China into spheres of interest of the great powers and triggered the so-called “Boxer Rebellion” (1899), which led to the murder of many Europeans. The uprising got its name from the secret society responsible for the staging, “Fist fighters for law and unity”. As a result, troops from the “United Eight States” (USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Austria, Russia) intervened and put down the uprising. Russia occupied Manchuria with its troops,

In October 1911, a revolution by bourgeois forces wishing to establish a republic overthrown the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi. A little later, the Republic of China was proclaimed, and Sun Yat-sen, a leader of the bourgeois movement, became the first president for a short period. He was soon replaced by General Yuan Shikai as President.

Sun Yat-sen founded the National Chinese People’s Party (Kuomintang, KMT) in mid-1912, the basis of which was an underground movement founded in 1905, which was instrumental in the 1911 revolution. The party propagated the “Three Principles of the People” (nationalism, democracy, socialism) and strived for parliamentary democracy. It won the elections in January 1913, but was unable to assert itself against Yuan Shikai’s claim to sole rule, which dissolved Parliament and established a military dictatorship.

After the assassination of the President in 1916 (who was crowned emperor, which led to mass uprisings in China), so-called “warlords”, regionally competing military leaders, took power in China. When, after the end of the First World War, according to AbbreviationFinder, the formerly German territories in China became the property of Japan, an extensive protest movement formed in China, which was supported, among other things, by the Communist Party (KP) founded by Mao Tse -tung and others in 1921. Together with the Kuomintang of Sun Yat-sen, it fought the military rulers in China. After Sun Yat-sen’s death, Chiang Kai-shek took over the leadership of the KMT. In 1927 he proclaimed the Democratic Republic of China in Nanking. The alliance between the KMT and the Communist Party broke,The Kuomintang troops emerged victorious from the ensuing civil war between the supporters of the two parties. Meanwhile, Japan occupied Manchuria in 1931 and proclaimed the state of Manchuko headed by the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, who was controlled from Japan. Supporters of the Chinese Communist Party withdrew to Shanxi Province in northwestern China, and Mao Tse-tung became Chairman in 1935.

The CP and the Kuomintang reunited in the struggle against Japan after the second Sino-Japanese war broke out in July 1937 (until 1945). Japanese troops had started to occupy areas in eastern China in order to compensate for the country’s raw material poverty. China was mainly supported by the Soviet Union, and after Japan sided with Germany in 1941, the country also received supplies from the western powers of the United States and Great Britain. Before Japan surrendered in September 1945, around 9 million people died in China. China got back its territories lost to Japan (including Taiwan).

After the end of the occupation, the alliance between the two Chinese parties broke up again. While the north of the country was largely under the control of the communists led by Mao Tse-tung, southern China was in the hands of Chiang Kai-shek. In the fall of 1949, Chiang Kai-shek and his followers (around two million) had to flee to Taiwan. In March 1950, they proclaimed the Republic of China in Taiwan.

The Chinese Communist Party took political power in the country and its leader Mao Tse-tung became the absolute head of state. In October 1949, he proclaimed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Tiananmen Square in Beijing and began to transform the population in the “spirit of socialism”. The first measures included extensive agricultural reform, the nationalization of industry, and the persecution and detention of opposition figures. A support pact was signed with the Soviet Union a year later. Also in 1950 Chinese troops occupied Tibet, which had separated from China in 1912. China supported North Korea in the Korean War (1950-53), after which the UN imposed a trade embargo on the People’s Republic of China.

At the end of the 1950s, the first failures in the economic reform programs (“big leap forward”) came, leading to the so-called three bitter years 1960-62, in which a large part of the population lived in poverty and suffered from hunger. Mao Tse-tung was forced to resign as president, but remained the party leader of the CP.

In the 1960s there was a break in good relations with the Soviet Union because the Chinese government was unwilling to recognize the USSR’s claim to leadership among the communist states. In 1964, China carried out the first successful atomic bomb tests (in the Takla Makan desert). There were repeated conflicts with the neighboring country of India over the Kashmir and Ladakh regions. In addition, India has granted exile to the spiritual and political leader of Tibet (Dalai Lama) since 1959. Domestically, Mao Tse-tung prevailed against the moderate forces in the Chinese Communist Party and declared the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” against them. This led to civil war-like conditions in China: the actions of the so-called “Red Guards”, which consisted mainly of young people, led to an almost complete destruction of the party apparatus, which was replaced by revolutionary committees. Hundreds of thousands of intellectuals and (alleged) counter-revolutionaries fell victim to the “wave of personal cleansing”. In China and especially in Tibet, almost all monasteries, cultural monuments and temples were destroyed in the course of the fight against the old values ​​and traditions. Mao Tse-tung’s adversary in the CP, Deng Xiao-ping, had to resign from his party and government posts in 1967. By contrast, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, who had been in office since 1949, was able to hold his office (until 1975). By contrast,

In 1969 the Cultural Revolution ended with armed violence. China oriented itself to the west, was admitted to the UN in 1971 and was given a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. At the same time, the Republic of China (Taiwan) lost its status as the legitimate government of China.

After Mao Tse-tung’s death in 1976, the so-called “gang of four” around Mao’s wife tried to seize political power. With the help of the military, Zhou Enlai’s successor as Prime Minister, Hua Gofeng, was able to assert himself, who also took over the party leadership until 1980. Deng Xiao-ping, one of the five deputy party leaders, who was rehabilitated in 1973, became the driving force of Chinese economic and foreign policy in China. As part of a socialist market economy, he called for liberalization and opening up of the Chinese economy to the west. In parallel to the economic opening, there was an improvement in political relations with the industrialized countries. Diplomatic relations were established with the United States in 1978 and a trade agreement was signed.Relations also began to normalize with Japan, which was to become one of the most important trading partners as a result, and the Soviet Union. In contrast, tensions arose repeatedly with Vietnam and Taiwan, which became increasingly isolated.

In the early 1980s, China’s population was around one billion, and the number continued to grow. The Chinese government passed laws that provided for the one-child family. If they are not observed, the parents face fines or massive disadvantages in the allocation of housing. In the fourth constitution from 1982, Deng Xiaoping’s reform course was officially laid down as a political guideline.

In the mid-1980s, a democracy movement developed mainly in the cities of China, which was predominantly supported by students. Influenced by the “perestroika” movement of the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a mass demonstration took place in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in May 1989, and the demonstrators demanded more democracy and respect for human rights. The government then deployed the military and disbanded the demonstration by force of arms, killing at least 400 civilians. The opposition groups in the country, which had formed in recent years, were dissolved, their members arrested and partially executed. Even within the Chinese Communist Party, politicians have been removed from office because of their overly liberal stance.

The Chinese leadership’s response provoked massive protests in the western world and temporarily put the country in political isolation. But China’s importance as a sales market and as the most populous country in the world brought about rapid reintegration. Even after Deng Xiaping’s death in 1997, the Chinese leadership remained on the one hand on the course of a liberal economy and on the other hand on suppressing all democratic movements in its own country.

In June 1997, Great Britain returned its former Hong Kong crown colony to China. The existing economic system in Hong Kong, now “Special Administrative Region”, essentially left the Chinese leadership in place, but the Hong Kong parliament was replaced by a Beijing-friendly one.

In 1998, the Chinese leadership was forced – not least due to the consequences of the Asian economic crisis – to open up the Chinese market further and to lower import duties. The aim was to join the WTO (World Trade Organization), which then took place in 2001. At the same time, criticism from international human rights organizations has increased, accusing the government of repeatedly violating human rights against thousands of Chinese.

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In 1999 Portugal returned the Macao colony (16.9 km²) to China. As in Hong Kong, the former colony was assured that the economic form would be maintained for an initial period of 50 years (according to the “one country – two systems” principle).

The Chinese People’s Congress passed a population planning law in 2002, calling on the government to modify the one-child policy that has been pursued since 1970. The Central Committee of the Communist Party (CP) approved an amendment to the state constitution in October 2003. It now has basic rights to strike and freedom of movement and a “right to privacy”. There are also new, less restrictive “marriage registration rules”.

Chinese officer Yang Liwei orbited the earth 14 times in October 2003 with the “Shenzou 5” rocket; China is the third nation (besides Russia and the USA) to succeed in manned space travel. – From the end of the year, an avian flu epidemic led to mass extinctions in poultry farms.

In 2008, five new “super ministries” were created, which will in future address domestic political priorities. The government responded to the increasing reports of inhumane working conditions (a system of slave labor in brick production was discovered in mid-2007) with China’s first labor contract law. This is also intended to combat the enormous quality defects in export products; there have been several international recalls since 2007, eg B. because of toxic ingredients. Even in 2008, over 50,000 infants fell ill with poisoned milk powder in China.

The NPC Standing Committee (National People’s Congress) passed a law in 2006 requiring all death sentences to be confirmed by the Supreme Court. Due to several spectacular wrongful convictions, there was a public debate about the death penalty, which provincial courts in particular often operate excessively.

At the three gorges of the Yangtsekiang near Yichang in central China, the largest dam on earth was completed in 2006 after only twelve years of construction with the Three Gorges Dam. The controversial project is primarily intended to avert an impending energy shortage in economically strengthened China. Environmental damage, geological risks and the relocation of around 1.3 million people had to be accepted for the gigantic plant.

In spring 2008 there was another serious crisis between Tibet and China: after the struggle for freedom by Tibetan demonstrators, there was bloody unrest. China managed to almost completely shut off Tibet, sending thousands of soldiers and refusing to report abroad. – By contrast, direct political talks were held with Taiwan for the first time in June 2008 after ten years.

A severe earthquake shook southwest China in May 2008. The natural disaster has cost an estimated 50,000 lives. Many structures, including dams, have been damaged. An estimated five million people lost their homes. It was the worst earthquake in China in 32 years.

In the run-up to the Olympic Games, which took place in Beijing from August 8th to 24th, 2008, critical voices from all over the world had been heard. The focus of the discussion was on human rights violations, in which the human rights organization Amnesty International recognized and raised a discrepancy between the ideals of the Olympic Movement and the political reality of China. In the wake of the Tibet crisis in the spring, several countries had considered boycotting the games. Concerns were also raised about poor air quality in Beijing. 10 708 athletes from 28 sports finally fought for 302 gold medals. American swimmer Michael Phelps won eight gold medals; with a total of 14 gold he is now the most successful athlete in the history of the Olympic Games.IOC President Jacques Rogge’s assessment of the Beijing Games was largely positive. At the same time, Rogge conceded the IOC’s impotence in dealing with the hosts. In particular, on press censorship and suppression of protests, he said the situation was “not perfect”. Many foreign journalists criticized the restricted reporting harshly. However, there is also progress, it said. However, there is also progress, it said.However, there is also progress, it said.

As a result of an open territorial dispute over the Diaoyu / Senkaku Islands claimed by China and Japan after the Japanese government bought three of the seven islands, tensions increased significantly from August 2012.

There are still violations of minimum standards under the rule of law across China. There is still political prosecution, very frequent death sentences, and cases of ill-treatment and torture. Freedom of the press, expression and religion are severely restricted. The Internet has become the real forum for expression and education in China. The public questioning of the Chinese Communist Party’s monopoly on power continues to be severely punished. China is particularly tough on demands for independence or greater autonomy, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang.

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