Home Mission Diplomatic Activity China-EU Bilateral Contacts Video Gallery News Letter Key Documents
Home > Welcome to China > Welcome to China
              Ancient Times (from antiquity to 1840 A.D.)                
              Modern Period (1840-1919)
              New Democratic Revolution (1919-1949)
              The People's Republic of China (1949-present)
          Ancient Times (from antiquity to 1840 A.D.)
          From archaeological findings we know that about 500,000-1,000,000
          years ago, there were primitive human beings such as Yuanmou Man,
          Lantian Man and Peking Man in the wide expanse known today as China.
          After the long period of primitive existence, the Xia Dynasty, the
          first in Chinese history, was established in the 21st century B.C.,
          heralding the beginning of a slave society in China. The following
          Shang and Western Zhou dynasties saw further development of the
          slave society. Then came the Spring and Autumn and Warring States
          periods (i.e., the Eastern Zhou Dynasty), periods of transition from
          slave to feudal society.
          In 221 B.C., Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty,
          ended the rivalry among the independent principalities in the
          Warring States Period and established the first centralized,
          unified, multinational state in Chinese history--the Qin Dynasty.
          Subsequently, one dynasty replaced another. They included the Han,
          Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Sui, Tang, Five
          Dynasties, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing. China remained a feudal
          society until the Opium War in 1840.

A Brief Chinese Chronology

Dynasty                                  Date
----------                                   ---------
Xia                                          c.21-16th century B.C.
Shang                                     c.16-11th century B.C.
Western Zhou                        c.11th century B.C.-770 B.C.
Eastern Zhou                         770-221 B.C.
(Spring and Autumn and
Warring States periods)
Qin                                         221-207B.C.
Western Han                         206B.C.-A.D.24
Eastern Han                          25-220
Three Kingdoms                   220-265
(Wei, Shu and Wu)
Western Jin                           265-316
Eastern Jin                            317-420
Southern and  Northern Dynasties  
Sui                                          581-618
Tang                                       618-907
Five Dynasties                       907-960
Northern Song                       960-1127
Southern Song                      1127-1279
Yuan                                      1271-1368
Ming                                       1368-1644
Qing                                       1644-1911

          Ancient China was fairly well developed in both economy and culture.
          During the apex of the Chinese feudal society--the Han and Tang
          dynasties--agriculture, handicrafts, weaving and shipbuilding were
          advanced. Transportation both by land and water was convenient;
          extensive economic and cultural relations were established with
          Japan, Korea, India, Persia, and Arabia. Papermaking, printing,
          gunpowder and the compass, four major creations of ancient Chinese
          science and technology, are embodiments of the wisdom and power of
          the Chinese people which have exerted an enormously profound
          influence on the history of mankind. Meanwhile, famous thinkers in
          ancient China such as Lao Zi and Confucius were influencing the
          traditional Chinese culture and even the world civilizations. Sun
          Zi's Art of War remains an invaluable reference for people of the
          military and economic circles; Cao Xueqin's Dream of Red Mansions is
          considered the representative work of Chinese classical literature
          and continues to inspire research and study both at home and abroad.
          Great achievements were also made in the fields of astronomy,
          mathematics, geography and medicine. The Gan Shi Xing Jing (Gan Shi
          Catalogue of Stars) of the Warring States Period is the earliest
          catalogue of fixed stars in the world. Zhang Heng of the Han Dynasty
          invented the armillary sphere and seismograph. During the Southern
          and Northern Dynasties Zu Chongzhi calculated the value of PI to be
          between 3.1415926 and 3.1415927. He was the first person in the
          world to have accurately calculated the value of PI to seven decimal
          places. The Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica) by Li
          Shizhen of the 16th century, records more than 1,800 kinds of herbal
          medicines and over 10,000 prescriptions.  
          Modern Period (1840-1919)
          The Opium War, which started in 1840, was a turning point in Chinese
          history. In the 17th and 18th centuries the major countries of
          Europe were looking around for markets for their merchandise and
          colonies. To protect its opium trade, Britain launched the war of
          aggression against China in 1840. In 1842 the corrupt Qing court
          signed the humiliating Treaty of Nanking with Britain, bartering
          away China's national sovereignty. This marked the reduction of
          China to a semicolonial, semifeudal country.
          The Revolution of 1911, a bourgeois democratic revolution led by Dr.
          Sun Yat-sen, ended the rule of the Qing Dynasty. Thus, the monarchy
          that had existed in China for 2000 years came to an end, and the
          provisional government of the Republic of China was founded.  
           New Democratic Revolution (1919-1949)
          In 1919 the May 4th Movement against imperialism and feudalism took
          place. In this movement, the Chinese working class for the first
          time appeared on the political scene. In 1921, at its first National
          Congress, delegates representing Communist groups from all parts of
          China including Mao Zedong, Dong Biwu, Chen Tanqiu, He Shuheng, Wang
          Jinmei, Deng Enming and Li Da, met in Shanghai and rounded the
          Communist Party of China. The Chinese people led by the Communist
          Party participated in a bitter struggle for many years, which
          included four periods: the Northern Expedition (1924-27), Agrarian
          Revolutionary War (1927-37), War of Resistance Against Japan
          (1937-45), and the National Liberation War (1945-49). In 1949 the
          Chinese people finally ended the rule of the Kuomintang headed by
          Chiang Kai-shek, achieving the victory of the New Democratic
         The People's Republic of China (1949-present)
          On October 1, 1949, 300,000 people gathered at Tiananmen Square in
          Beijing for the ceremony formally declaring the new state. Mao
          Zedong, chairman of the Central People's Government, solemnly
          proclaimed the rounding of the People's Republic of China.
          After a period of economic recovery in the first three years
          (1950-1952) following the rounding of the People's Republic, and
          then the basic realization of the socialist transformation of
          agriculture, the handicrafts industry, and capitalist industry and
          commerce between 1953 and 1956, the leading role of public ownership
          of the means of production had been defined, and the transition from
          new democracy to socialism realised. During the ten years from 1957
          to 1966 China began large-scale socialist construction. Overall,
          great achievements were made in the national economy during this
          decade in spite of some serious mistakes in the economic
          construction. The nation's total industrial fixed assets quadrupled
          between 1956 and 1966, and the national income increased by 58
          percent in constant prices. The output of essential industrial
          products, such as steel, coal, crude oil, generated electricity and
          metal-cutting machine tools increased by several or, in some cases,
          even a dozen times, and some new and developing industries such as
          electronics and petrochemicals were established; work in science and
          technology, particularly in atomic energy, jet technology,
          computers, semiconductors and automatic control, progressed rapidly.
          The "cultural revolution," which lasted for ten years from May 1966
          to October 1976, brought great calamity to the country and the
          people, causing the most serious setbacks and most damaging losses
          to both since the rounding of the People's Republic of China.
          Drawing on the support of the broad masses of the Chinese people,
          the Communist Party of China smashed the Jiang Qing
          counter-revolutionary clique in October 1976. The end of the
          disastrous "cultural revolution" marked the beginning of a new era
          in Chinese history. Since the Third Plenary Session of the CPC
          Eleventh Central Committee at the end of 1978, China has instituted
          a policy of reform and opening to the outside world. The errors of
          the "cultural revolution" and the earlier "Leftist" deviations were
          rectified. The focus was shifted to modernization centred around the
          economy; a socialist modernization road with Chinese characteristics
          was defined.

Suggest to a friend