Which Chinese dynasty first conquered Manchuria

China story


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 inhabited by humans in the Paleolithic Age. Tools and ceramics of the Yanshao culture are known from the Neolithic Age (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.

From around the 16th century BC. Evidence of the first Chinese advanced civilization of the Shang dynasty, the center of which was in the Great Plain and in parts of the Yangtze River valley. Finds indicate cities that were fortified by walls. There was a feudal system that gave the priesthood a powerful position alongside the rulers and the nobility. A symbol font with around 2,000 characters was used.

The Shang empire was established around 1000 BC. Replaced by the Chou dynasty, this empire expanded until around 770 BC. and represented a hierarchically structured feudal state. In the course of the next 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 warring states", 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 small empires decreased, starting around 247 BC. succeeded the Qin empire under the emperor Zheng to subjugate the other empires. Zheng founded as "Shih Huang-ti" (Illustrious Emperor) in the year 221 BC. the Chinese Empire with the capital Chang'an (Xi'an). Until 210 BC. he was able to enlarge the territory of the empire towards the west and north (Manchuria) and had it secured against the attacks of the Huns coming from the north (Hsiung-Nu) by a large continuous wall (the forerunner of the Great Wall). Inside, the emperor ruled autocratically, disempowered the nobility and placed the administration of the country in the hands of civil servants. The Empire's currency, dimensions and writing were standardized. This did not happen without resistance from the population, against which the emperor acted rigorously (burning of the works of Confucius in 213 BC).

After the death of Emperor Zheng, the Qin dynasty quickly lost power due to the ongoing popular uprisings. A leader of the rebels, Liu Pang, founded around 207 BC. which until 220 AD ruling Han dynasty, in which feudalist and centralist elements were initially united. The construction of the Great Wall was continued after new territories were gained in the south and east of the country, the administration of the increasingly centralized country was in the hands of the so-called "mandarins", the imperial officials. Confucianism gained in importance again, and Buddhism gained popularity among the population as a second religious denomination. From the middle of the 2nd century AD. there was brisk trade with other Asian countries in western China via the so-called "Silk Road", and at times trade relations extended as far as the Mediterranean region.

After the end of the Han Dynasty in AD 220. there was no unified empire for a long period of time, until the end of the 6th century AD. the country was shaped by religious and territorial power struggles, which led to territorial losses and the economic decline of the individual empires. Then followed from 581 AD. the Sui dynasty, which reestablished a centralized empire with the capital Chang'an. Emperor Weng-Ti succeeded in driving out the Huns who had invaded the north of the country and building a merchant and war fleet that made China a sea power. In order to connect the interior of the country, the so-called Kaiser Canal, which is around 1500 km long, 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 number of reforms, including the civil service: The mandarins had to prove their suitability and education in strict tests. Buddhism had become the state-determining religion. The cultural heyday led to the production of porcelain and around 870 to the invention of the printing press. Competing empires such as the Tibetan Tufan Empire and peasant revolts 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 the south of China. Only Emperor Taizong reunited China in 960 and founded the Song Dynasty, which was the dominant political power until 1279. The Chin Empire of the Judschen people, founded in Manchuria in 1126, led to a relocation of 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 the whole 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 the political center. The country opened up under the Mongol emperors, and European travelers visited the court of the emperors. The practiced religious tolerance led, among other things, to the fact that Islam was able to spread in some regions of western China. In 1325, a major famine in China resulted in the deaths of around eight million Chinese, roughly 12% of the population at the time.

In 1368 the foreign rule of the Mongols 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 sea merchant fleet and the "Great Canal" led to an economic recovery in the country, while at the same time the country increasingly isolated itself from outside influences. Against the constant Mongol attacks in the north of the country, the "Great Wall" was reinforced and extended to a length of around 6,000 km. Under the Ming emperors, the class of civil servants lost political power. From the beginning of the 17th century, the Ming dynasty began to decline, and famine led to a series of popular uprisings. From the north, the Manchu, a union of tribes living in Manchuria, advanced into the weakened empire and conquered Beijing. They founded the Qing dynasty (also: Manchu dynasty), which was dominant in China until 1912. In 1662 the Manchus ruled all of China, and under their emperors the country experienced a political and economic heyday. In the 17th and 18th centuries the territory of the empire was expanded to include the island of Taiwan, Mongolia, Tibet and Burma. In the middle of the 18th century, the Chinese population was around 300 million people.

Despite the sometimes pronounced 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 trading bases in China. At the end of the 17th century, European trade in China was restricted by appropriate measures. The British East India Company's trade in opium, illegally imported from India and leading 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 prohibiting the possession of opium. At the same time the supplies of the British in the port of Guangzhou were destroyed. This process triggered the so-called "Opium War" between the two countries, which lasted until 1842 and ended with the victory of Great Britain. The Nanking peace treaty stipulated that China had to open several ports for British trade, cede Hong Kong to Great Britain and pay high war compensation. Other Western powers such as France and the USA also concluded similar treaties with China in the following decades (the so-called Unequal Treaties), which the Chinese leadership signed under duress. The general freedom of trade and the opening of the Chinese rivers to the ships of foreign companies meant that the Chinese economy suffered major losses as the country was flooded with foreign goods.

In 1858 the Amur River was established as the state border between Russia and China, and the empire lost territory as a result. 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 the island of Formosa 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 position of power in Asia.

Domestically, too, the Chinese Empire was weakened in the second half of the 19th century by uprisings such as the Taiping uprising, which claimed around 25 million lives. Towards the end of the century, a group of Chinese nationalists united in the fight against the division of China into spheres of interest of the great powers and triggered the so-called "Boxer Uprising" (1899), which led to the murder of many Europeans. The uprising got its name from the secret society "Pugilists for Law and Unity", which was responsible for the production. Thereupon troops of the "United Eight States" (USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Austria, Russia) intervened and put down the uprising. Russia and its troops occupied Manchuria, which was divided between Russia and Japan in 1905.

In October 1911, a revolution by bourgeois forces who wanted to establish a republic led to the overthrow of 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 its first president for a short period of time. A little later he was replaced by General Yuan Shikai in the office of President.

Sun Yat-sen founded the National China People's Party (Kuomintang, KMT) in mid-1912, based on an underground movement founded in 1905 that played a key role in the 1911 revolution. The party propagated the "three principles of the people" (nationalism, democracy, socialism) and strived for a parliamentary democracy. She won the elections in January 1913, but could not prevail against the claim to sole rule of Yuan Shikai, who dissolved parliament and established a military dictatorship.

After the assassination of the president in 1916 (he was crowned emperor, which led to mass uprisings in China) so-called "warlords", regionally competing military leaders, took power in China. When the former German territories in China passed into the possession of Japan after the end of the First World War, 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 Sun Yat-sen's Kuomintang, she fought against the military rulers in China. After Sun Yat-sen's death, Chiang Kai-shek took over the management of the KMT. He proclaimed the Democratic Republic of China in Nanking in 1927. The alliance between the KMT and the Communist Party broke up, and the Kuomintang troops emerged victorious from the civil war that followed between the supporters of the two parties. In the meantime Japan occupied Manchuria in 1931 and proclaimed the state of Manchuko with the last Chinese emperor Pu Yi at its head, who was controlled from Japan. The supporters of the Chinese Communist Party withdrew to Shanxi Province in northwest China, and Mao Tse-tung became chairman in 1935.

The CP and the Kuomintang reunited in the fight against Japan after the second Sino-Japanese war broke out in July 1937 (until 1945). Japanese troops had begun occupying areas in eastern China in order to compensate for the scarcity of raw materials in their own country. China was mainly supported by the Soviet Union, after Japan had sided with Germany in 1941, the country also received supplies from the Western powers USA and Great Britain. By the time Japan surrendered in September 1945, around 9 million people had died in China. China got back the territories it had 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 over political power in the country and its chairman Mao Tse-tung became the absolute head of state. He proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC) on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in October 1949 and began to re-educate the population in the "spirit of socialism". The first measures included extensive agrarian reform, the nationalization of industry, and the persecution and imprisonment of opposition activists. A year later, an assistance pact was signed with the Soviet Union. Also in 1950, Chinese troops occupied Tibet, which had broken away from China in 1912. In the Korean War (1950-53) China supported North Korea, whereupon the UN imposed a trade embargo on the People's Republic of China.

At the end of the 1950s, the first failures of the economic reform programs ("Big Leap Forward") became apparent, and there were 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 had to give up his office as president, but remained party leader of the Communist Party.

In the 1960s there was a break in good relations with the Soviet Union because the Chinese leadership 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 over the regions of Kashmir and Ladakh with neighboring India. In addition, India had granted exile to the spiritual and political leader of Tibet (Dalai Lama) since 1959. Domestically, Mao Tse-tung was able to assert himself against the moderate forces in the Chinese Communist Party and proclaimed 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 were mainly composed 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 temple complexes were destroyed in the course of the struggle against the old values ​​and traditions. Mao Tse-tung's adversary in the Communist Party, Deng Xiao-ping, had to resign in 1967 from his office in party and government. On the other hand, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, who had been in office since 1949, was able to stay in office (until 1975).

In 1969 the Cultural Revolution was ended by force of arms. China oriented itself towards the west, was admitted to the UN in 1971 and received 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 usurp political power. With the help of the military, Zhou Enlai's successor as prime minister, Hua Gofeng, who also took over the party leadership until 1980, was able to prevail. Deng Xiao-ping, rehabilitated in 1973 and one of the five vice chairmen of the party, became the driving force behind Chinese economic and foreign policy. As part of a socialist market economy, he called for, among other things, the liberalization and opening 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 USA in 1978 and a trade agreement was signed. Relations also began to normalize with Japan, which was to develop into one of the most important trading partners as a result, and the Soviet Union. On the other hand, tensions arose repeatedly with Vietnam and Taiwan, which became increasingly politically isolated.

In the early 1980s, China's population was around 1 billion, and the number continued to grow. The Chinese government enacted laws that provided for the one-child family. Failure to comply could threaten the parents with fines or massive disadvantages in the allocation of housing. In the fourth constitution of 1982, Deng Xiaoping's reform course was officially established as a political guideline.

In the mid-1980s, especially in the cities of China, a democracy movement was formed, which was mainly supported by students.Influenced by the "perestroika" movement of the Soviet head of state and party leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a week-long mass demonstration took place on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in May 1989, the demonstrators demanded more democracy and the observance of human rights. The government then deployed the military and used gun violence to break up the demonstration, killing at least 400 civilians. The opposition groups in the country that had formed in recent years were disbanded, their members arrested and some of them executed. Politicians have also been removed from office within the Chinese Communist Party because of their overly liberal stance.

The reaction of the Chinese leadership provoked massive protests in the western world and the country temporarily fell into political isolation. But China's importance as a sales market and as the most populous country in the world resulted in rapid reintegration. Even after Deng Xiaping's death in 1997, the Chinese leadership stuck to the course of a liberal economy on the one hand and the suppression of any democratic movements in their own country on the other.

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

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

In 1999, Portugal returned the Macau colony (a 16.9 km² territory) to China. As in Hong Kong, the former colony was guaranteed to maintain the economic system for an initial 50 years (based on the principle of "one country - two systems").

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 in place since 1970. The Central Committee (ZK) of the Communist Party (CP) approved an amendment to the state constitution in October 2003. In it there are now basic rights to strike and freedom of movement as well as a "right to privacy". There are also new, less restrictive "marriage registration rules".

The Chinese officer Yang Liwei orbited the earth 14 times in October 2003 with the "Shenzou 5" rocket; China is the third nation (alongside Russia and the USA) to have successfully completed manned space travel. - From the end of the year, an avian flu epidemic led to mass deaths in poultry farms.

In 2008 five new "super-ministries" were created to deal with domestic political priorities. The government responded to the increasing number of 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 product recalls since 2007 B. because of toxic ingredients. Even in 2008, over 50,000 infants in China fell ill from poisoned milk powder.

In 2006, the Standing Committee of the NPC (National People's Congress) passed a law according to which in future all death sentences must be confirmed by the Supreme Court. Several spectacular misjudgments led to a public debate about the imposition of the death penalty, which provincial courts in particular often pursue excessively.

At the three gorges of the Yangtze River near Yichang in central China, the Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam in the world, was completed in 2006 after only twelve years of construction. The main aim of the controversial project is 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 facility.

In spring 2008 there was another serious crisis between Tibet and China: After the freedom struggle of Tibetan demonstrators, there was bloody unrest. China succeeded in almost completely sealing off Tibet, dispatched thousands of soldiers and refused any foreign reporting. - By contrast, direct political talks were held with Taiwan for the first time in ten years in June 2008.

A severe earthquake shook southwest China in May 2008. The natural disaster is estimated to have killed 50,000 people. Many structures, including dams, were damaged. It is estimated that five million people lost their homes. It was the heaviest quake China has seen in 32 years.

Even in the run-up to the Olympic Games, which took place in Beijing from August 8th to 24th, 2008, there had been critical voices from all over the world. The discussion focused 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 Tibetan crisis in spring, several countries considered boycotting the Games. Concerns were also raised about poor air quality in Beijing. Finally, 10,708 athletes from 28 sports competed for 302 gold medals. The American swimmer Michael Phelps won eight gold medals; with a total of 14 gold medals, 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 admitted the powerlessness of the IOC in dealing with the hosts. Regarding press censorship and the repression of protests in particular, he said the situation was "not perfect". Many foreign journalists criticized the limited reporting. However, there is also progress, it said.

Due to 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 considerably from August 2012.

There are still violations of rule of law minimum standards across China. There are still political prosecutions, the death penalty being very frequent, and cases of ill-treatment and torture. Freedom of the press, freedom of opinion and freedom of religion are severely restricted. The Internet has become the real forum for expression and formation in China. Publicly questioning the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly of power continues to be punished severely. China is also cracking down on demands for independence or greater autonomy, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang.