China is one of the oldest civilizations, with a history of about 4,000 years. Man appeared on the territory of China about 1.7 million years ago, as evidenced by the remains of Pithecanthropus, the “Yuan Mou Sinanthropus”, discovered during excavations in Yunnan Province.
About 600 thousand years ago, another group of ancient people, called the Peking Synantrops, lived in the vicinity of Peking. Representatives of this culture walked on two legs, were able to make and use primitive tools, knew how to produce and store fire. About 10 thousand years ago, Neolithic sites were already widespread throughout China. At the Neolithic sites of Hemudu in the province of Zhejiang and in Xi’an, which existed 6-7 millennia ago, archaeologists have found cultivated brown rice and chumiza, as well as agricultural implements.
By the end of the XIV century. BC. in the middle reaches of the Huang He, a state was formed, known as Yin. The state of Yin waged long wars of conquest with neighboring tribes, as a result of which its territory expanded even by the 11th century. BC e. covered the modern provinces of Henan, Shanxi, partly Shaanxi, Hebei. In the Yin era, a culture developed that laid the foundation for the Chinese civilization of the times of reliable history. The beginnings of the lunar calendar appeared, writing arose – the prototype of modern hieroglyphic Chinese writing. Yin was conquered by the Zhou tribe, ethnically, apparently, close to the Yin people. Check a2zdirectory for old history of China.
In the era of the Western Zhou (XI – VIII centuries BC), agriculture and animal husbandry flourished. Farming tools improved, many agricultural crops appeared, sericulture and silk weaving reached a high level. Bronze products were widely made, the casting technology of which the Chinese mastered about five thousand years ago. Divinatory inscriptions appeared on shields made of tortoise shells and on animal bones, as well as on bronze vessels.
The culture of Western Zhou is known for highly artistic monuments of literature and art, as well as works on philosophy, politics and history. By the end of this period, the slave system had reached a significant development. This was followed by the era of Eastern Zhou or Spring and Autumn (VIII – V centuries BC), and after it – the era of the Warring States (V – III centuries BC). They became a period of decline and disintegration of slaveholding relations, they were replaced by the feudal system. During the period of Spring and Autumn, the technology of casting steel already existed, the metal began to be used for the manufacture of axes, plows and other tools. At the same time, the custom arose to use cattle for cultivating the land. During the periods of Spring and Autumn and the Warring States, an unprecedented revival of philosophical thought was noted, a whole galaxy of outstanding thinkers appeared – Laozi, Confucius, Mencius, known military leader of those times Sun Wu. They had a significant impact on the socio-political thought of subsequent generations. As a result of the wars, the state was divided into 7 strong and 15 weaker kingdoms. Strong kingdoms had armies of millions, so by the middle of the 3rd century. BC. only they remained on the historical stage. These were the kingdoms of Qin, Zhao, Han, Chu, Wei, Yan and Qi.
The Qin kingdom, initially considered relatively weak, began to strengthen from the middle of the 4th century BC. and by this time posed a serious threat to the neighbors. In the III century. BC. the Qin ruler Ying Zheng seized the kingdoms one by one and in 221 BC. becomes sole ruler of China. This monarch went down in history under the name of Qin Shi Huangdi, which means “the first highest monarch.” Qin Shi Huangdi implemented a series of reforms that united and strengthened the country.
The feudal relations formed under him were preserved in China for over 2000 years. At this time, the walls of the northern kingdoms were connected and the Great Wall of China was created. As a result of the uprisings of the masses that arose in 209-206 BC. e. on the basis of cruel oppression, increased taxes, labor and military service, the Qin empire ceased to exist. In 206 BC. e. Liu Bang founded the mighty Han Dynasty. In the era of the Han Dynasty, handicrafts, trade and agriculture achieved outstanding development. Large irrigation facilities were built, significant progress was made in metal smelting and silk weaving. Trade developed, lively foreign trade relations were established. The population at that time reached 50 million people. The years of the reign of Wudi Liu Che (from 140 to 187 BC) became the period of power and prosperity of the Han dynasty, centralized power was expanded from practically controlled Central China to the western lands (present-day Xinjiang and Central Asia). He twice sent Ambassador Zhang Qian to the Western lands to pave the way from Chang’an (the modern city of Xi’an in the Shaanxi province) through the western spurs of Xinjiang to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. On it, merchants carried excellent products from Chinese silk to the West in a continuous stream. This route was later called the “Silk Road”. With the development of close ties between West and East in China in the 1st century. Buddhism began to spread.
The Han Dynasty lasted until 220 AD. With the death of the Han Empire, a qualitatively new phase begins in the history of China, which is standardly defined as the era of the early Middle Ages. Period from III to VI centuries. is divided into the era of the Three Kingdoms (220 – 264), when three sovereign kingdoms (Wei, Shu and Wu) reappeared on the territory of China, entering into confrontation with each other; Western Jin (265 – 316) – a new short-term unification of the country and the restoration of a centralized empire; the era of the Southern and Northern dynasties (317 – 589), when China was partially conquered by several tribal unions led by the Tobians (Xianbeis) and the Huns (Xiongnu).
In 618, Li Yuan founded the Tang Dynasty. His son, Emperor Li Shimin (regnal years: 626 – 649) pursued a progressive policy and led feudal China to the pinnacle of power. Peace and order in the country during the years of the Tang Empire made it possible to maximize the efforts of the people in the sphere of production. Agriculture, handicrafts and trade flourished. New advances were made in the technology of weaving, dyeing, pottery, metallurgy, and shipbuilding. The whole country was covered with a network of land and water routes. China has established broad economic and cultural ties with Japan, Korea, India, Persia, Arabia, and many other states. The Tang Dynasty was followed by the Song Dynasty, founded in 960 by the general Zhao Kuangyin.
During the reign of Song, China occupied a leading position in the world in astronomy, science and technology. For example, new astronomical instruments were invented, the previously invented compass began to be used in navigation, monumental works on architecture, physics, biology, geology appeared, a calendar was compiled. The technique of book printing from carved boards was further developed after Bi Sheng was the first in the world to invent a method of printing with a movable typesetting type, which became a revolution in the history of printing.
In 1127, the capital of the Sung Empire, the city of Kaifeng, was captured by the Jurchens. The Jurchen invasion was a kind of prelude to an even more formidable event – the conquest of China by the Mongols. By 1279 they had conquered the whole country. The Mongol feudal lords established heavy economic, political, and national oppression in China, which temporarily slowed down the social development of the country. All the main historical centers of the country’s economic activity were almost completely destroyed: the population was exterminated or taken prisoner, cities were destroyed, arable land was turned into pastures for grazing horses. From the first half of the XIV century. a wave of popular uprisings passed through the country, eventually destroying the Mongol dynasty.
In 1368, the Ming dynasty was founded by one of the leaders of the anti-Mongol uprising, which already in the first decades of its existence completely restored the centralized imperial form of government, achieved relative stabilization of the internal political and economic situation in the country, and returned China to its former international prestige. In 1421, the capital of the empire was officially transferred to Beijing.
From the beginning of the XVI century. the southern coastal regions of China and the islands adjacent to them were subjected to a series of pirate raids by European fleets. In 1514, the Portuguese squadron opened fire on the coast guard of the city of Guangzhou, thereby starting Sino-Portuguese military conflicts, which ended in 1557 with the annexation of the Macau Peninsula by Portugal, on which the first European colony in China, Macau, was founded. In 1603, Spanish soldiers landed on the island of Luzon, exterminating all the Chinese living there (more than 25,000 people). From the 20s. 17th century Dutch ships constantly ply off the coast of China, attacking the islands, robbing Chinese settlements and taking their inhabitants into slavery. In 1624, the southern part of the island of Taiwan was captured by the Dutch.
The reason for the death of the Ming dynasty was the popular rebel movements and internecine conflicts. Once again, the situation of an internal political crisis led to expansion from outside, now carried out by the Manchus. The conquest of China by the Manchus was not an invasion in the truest sense of the word. The Manchurian army was invited by the Chinese generals, who were desperate to put down the peasant uprisings on their own. Under the Manchus, the Qing dynasty came to power in China. Kangxi is the most famous emperor of the Qing Dynasty. During his reign (1661 – 1722), Taiwan was united and the intervention of tsarist Russia was rebuffed. To strengthen control over Tibet, Kangxi developed a whole series of rules, the core of which was the final approval of the right of the Central Government to appoint the leaders of Tibet. Under him, the area of the territory of China exceeded 11 million km2. The general conservatism and ignorance of the Manchu ruling circles became one of the primary reasons for the stagnation of Chinese spiritual culture with the gradual degeneration of all its constituent traditions and phenomena. The degradation of China’s spiritual culture was accompanied by the degradation of the Manchu ruling regime, which reached its apogee in the second half of the 19th century. These decades passed in the context of incessant anti-government and anti-Manchu speeches.
At the beginning of the XIX century. the British launched a wide trade in opium in China and exported silver from here. As a result, the Qing government experienced growing financial difficulties and took steps to eliminate opium smuggling. In order to preserve the opium trade, in 1840 the British government unleashed aggression against China. The Chinese people courageously fought against the invaders, but the capitulatory tactics of the Qing government ultimately led to the conclusion of the humiliating Treaty of Nanjing with England, which infringed on China’s national sovereignty. After the Opium War, England, the USA, France, Russia, Japan and other imperialist powers forced the Qing government to conclude unequal treaties. As a result, China gradually found itself in the position of a semi-colonial and semi-feudal state.
The occupations of the imperialists and the policies of the Qing caused great indignation among the Chinese people, among whom revolutionary movements began to emerge. In 1911, the Xinhai Revolution, led by Sun Yat-sen, overthrew the more than 200-year-old Qing dynasty. Thus ended almost two thousand years of history of the reign of feudal imperial dynasties, the Republic of China was proclaimed.
The October Revolution in Russia brought the ideas of Marxism-Leninism to China. In 1921, Mao Zedong and others – 12 delegates representing the communist cells of various regions of the country, held the 1st National Congress in Shanghai, which marked the creation of the Communist Party of China (CCP). During the New Democratic Revolution, the CPC led the Chinese people’s stubborn struggle, which included 4 historical stages: the Northern Expedition (1924 – 1927), the Agrarian Revolutionary War (1927 – 1937), the War of Resistance against Japanese Invaders (1937 – 1945), and War of Liberation (1945 – 1949). On October 1, 1949, at a solemn rally in Beijing on Tiananmen Square, in the presence of 300 thousand people, Chairman of the Central People’s Government Mao Zedong officially proclaimed the formation of the PRC. In February 1950, the Treaty of Friendship was signed.
In the initial period of the PRC, the government successfully completed the land reform in areas where more than 90% of the rural population lived, 300 million peasants received land under the division with a total area of 47 million hectares. During the first five-year plan (1953-1957), amazing successes were achieved in the national economy. In 1954, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China was adopted – the first constitution of the socialist type in the history of the country. It proclaimed the equality of citizens before the law, guaranteed the social and economic rights and political freedoms of workers. In August 1966, the “Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPC on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” was adopted, which contained a call to “destroy those in power who are in the ranks of the party and follow the capitalist path.” The revolution, which lasted from May 1966 to October 1976.
The 11th Congress of the Communist Party of China, held in 1977, officially announced the end of the “cultural revolution” and emphasized the need to boost the economy and modernize the country. At the same time, many of the political guidelines and slogans of the period of the “cultural revolution” were retained in the decisions of the congress. At the same congress, Deng Xiaoping was reinstated in all previously held leading positions in the party and government. Since 1979, under his leadership, China has embarked on a policy of reform and expansion of foreign relations. Comprehensive modernization of the country was put at the forefront, through consistent reforms in broad areas of the economic and political system in China, the main directions of socialist modernization with Chinese characteristics were gradually determined.
During the years of the policy of reform and openness, China’s social image and the country’s international authority have changed significantly, the economy began to develop rapidly, the living standards of the people rose noticeably, and the internal situation was the most favorable in all the years of the PRC. In 1989, Jiang Zemin was elected General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and in 1993 – Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, he led the group of leaders of China’s third generation. At the highest party and state post, he consistently defended and creatively inherited the course and policy of reform and openness, initiated by Deng Xiaoping. Political stability in the country, a developed economy, and active foreign policy activities of China have won the support of the broad masses of the people. In November 2002, at the first plenum of the 16th National Congress of the CPC, Hu Jintao was elected General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee.