History of China

By | April 28, 2022

According to historyaah, the territory of China was inhabited by humans during the Lower Paleolithic period. In one of the caves of Zhoukoudian near Beijing, the bone remains of Sinanthropus were found, which lived there several hundred thousand years ago. In the Neolithic era, with the transition to agriculture and a settled way of life, populations arose that were the ancestors of modern Chinese. In total, three main regions are distinguished during the formation of Neolithic cultures in China – in the south of the country on the territory of the modern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, in the middle reaches of the Yellow River and its tributary Weihe. It was in the middle reaches of the Yellow River that the Yangshao culture arose, which became the cradle of Chinese civilization.

The history of China, recorded in written sources, has approx. 3600 years old and dates back to the Shang Dynasty, which was founded in the 16th century. BC. Information about the Shang Dynasty was preserved in the inscriptions on shields made of tortoise shells and animal bones, intended for predictions. However, the first dynasty, according to traditional Chinese historiography, was not the Shang dynasty, but the Xia dynasty, which ruled from the 21st to the 16th century. BC, despite the fact that there is no archaeological and documentary evidence about it. Nevertheless, it is believed that on the verge of 3 and 2 thousand BC. in the middle reaches of the Huang He, a large union of Xia tribes was formed, within which an early state formation arose.

A few centuries later, one of the tribes that make up the union wins the struggle for power. Its leader, Cheng Tang, founded the new Shang-Yin dynasty, which lasted for St. 500 years. During the Shang-Yin era (16th-11th centuries BC), significant social progress was made, and society entered the Bronze Age. During this period, agriculture, sericulture and silk weaving developed rapidly, bronze products were made, divinatory inscriptions appeared on animal bones, shields made of tortoise shells, and also on bronze vessels. The first slaves also appeared in society. See ehistorylib for more about China history.

After the fall of the Shang dynasty, a new slave-owning system, known as the Western Zhou dynasty (11th century – 770 BC), was established in China. According to inscriptions on bronze objects and historical sources such as the Shijing (Book of Songs) and Shujing (Book of History), Western Zhou was a relatively advanced society, and the level of productive forces was much higher than in the Shang era..

The reign of Western Zhou ended in 770 BC, when the invasion of the nomadic tribes “di” forced the rulers to move the capital from west to east – from Haojing (now Xi’an, Shaanxi province) to Loi (now Luoyang, Henan province). From that moment on, the ruling dynasty became known as the Eastern Zhou. The Eastern Zhou period chronologically coincided with two eras – Chunqiu (Spring and Autumn) (770-476 BC) and Zhangguo (Warring States) (475-221 BC). It was a time of decline and decay of the slave system. Constant slave uprisings and popular riots hastened its collapse. During the Chunqiu period, there was St. 140 states. After many years of wars of the Zhangguo period, only 7 states remained – Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin.

Only the ruler of the Qin dynasty managed to successfully complete a series of campaigns against his rivals, and in 221 BC. he announced the creation of a unified empire and took the title of Qin Shi Huang. The first emperor of the Qin Dynasty ended separatism and created a highly centralized state, the first in Chinese history. Qin Shi Huang began long-term external wars, the purpose of which was to seize new lands and their population. In order to carry out aggressive campaigns, a large number of peasants were cut off from agriculture, who were also used to implement large state projects, such as the construction of a palace, tombs and the Great Wall of China. These actions of Qin Shi Huang caused peasant unrest, and in 209 BC. a year after the death of Qin Shi Huang, a peasant uprising took place under the leadership of Chen Sheng and Wu Guang,

In 206 BC Liu Bang, one of the leaders of the peasant uprisings, unified the country and founded the Western Han Dynasty. The new state became one of the largest empires in the world along with Rome and Parthia. Starting from ser. 2 in. BC. After Emperor Wu Di ascended the throne, Han China entered its heyday. Under him, the empire resumed wars with its neighbors. Their result was the expansion of the territory of the Han Empire far beyond the boundaries of the ancient Chinese kingdoms of the 3rd century BC. BC. There was a rapid economic development of the Han Empire. In agriculture, iron tools and plows were used everywhere, using buffalo as draft power. Large irrigation facilities were built. Metal smelting and silk weaving developed rapidly.

However, with the aggravation of social contradictions, peasant uprisings became more frequent. In 18 AD there was a powerful peasant uprising of the “Red Eyebrows”, which lasted for several years. In 25, one of the representatives of the ruling dynasty, Liu Xu, who penetrated the ranks of the peasant rebels, restored the Han dynasty. But it has already become known as Eastern Han, as its capital has moved to Luoyang, east of the former capital of Chang’an. However, unsuccessful wars with neighbors and contradictions within the ruling class continued to weaken the empire. In 184, the Yellow Turban rebellion began under the leadership of Zhang Jiao.

Although the rebels were defeated, this uprising undermined the strength of the ruling dynasty, and in the beginning. 3 in. the country broke up into three independent kingdoms – Wei, Shu and Wu, which existed until the Jin dynasty in 280 united the country. However, the unity of the country was short-lived. Popular uprisings were followed by protests by the non-Chinese population of the northern part of the country. Various nationalities – Xiongnu (Huns), Qiang, Di, Xianbei create their own states. The mass migration of the ancient Chinese to the south begins. Soon there is a confrontation between the North captured by nomads and the purely Chinese South. The Jin Dynasty was succeeded by the Southern Dynasties (420-589) and the Northern Dynasties (386-581).

However, the process of political fragmentation was halted by the unification of the country under the rule of the Sui dynasty in 581. But after its fall in 618, a single Tang empire arose. The Tang period (618-907) was the golden age of Chinese history. The existence of a single Chinese state, in which the Chinese constituted the majority of the population, became an incentive for a new stage in their consolidation. During this period, science and culture achieved great success. However, at the end of the Tang Dynasty, a peasant uprising led by Huang Chao broke out in the country. As a result, the Tang Empire broke up into several independent kingdoms (Five Dynasties), which were replaced by the Song Dynasty in 960.

One of the characteristic features of the Song Dynasty is the development of cities, some of them, such as Bianlian (now Kaifeng) and Hangzhou, become the largest trade and craft centers in East Asia. The period of the Song dynasty was marked by a long struggle with the intensified nomads from the north, among whom in the 11th century. the main place was occupied by the Khitans. During military clashes, the Khitan captured large areas of northern China. In the 12th century Sung China waged a fierce struggle with the Jin Empire, created by the ancestors of the Manchus, the Jurchens. In the 1st quarter of the 12th c. the entire Northern China was under the rule of the Jurchens, and in 1141 the Sung emperor Gaozong recognized himself as a vassal of the Jurchens.

In the 1st floor. 13th c. the Mongol state appeared, which first defeated the Jurchens and then began to conquer the territory of China. K ser. 13th c. the territory of the Mongolian state stretched from Baghdad in the west to the Yangtze River in the south. In 1271 Kublai Khan completed the defeat of the Sung Empire and founded the Yuan dynasty with its capital in Dadu (on the site of present-day Beijing). The Mongol conquest brought enormous destruction to China, as well as to other countries of Asia and Europe, and for a long time delayed the forward historical development of Chinese society. K ser. 14th c. China’s economy was in a depression. As a result, in the 1350s. anti-Mongol uprisings swept the whole country. In 1368, the commander of one of the rebel detachments, Zhu Yuanzhang, announced the creation of a new Ming dynasty.

The Minsk rulers tried to strengthen the position of China, but in the 16-17 centuries. China is in a difficult position on the international stage. The Mongols resumed raids on the northern borders, Japanese pirates constantly attacked coastal cities. In the northeast, a tribal union of Manchus emerged, headed by Nurkhatsi, who began military operations against the Ming Empire in 1618. The beginning of the war with the Manchus coincided with the intensification of the popular masses against the rulers. Peasant uprisings constantly flared up in various parts of China. In 1639, Li Zicheng created a huge peasant detachment, which, after successful actions against the authorities in Hebei, moved to the capital, and in 1644, after the capture of Beijing, the Ming dynasty ceased to exist. However, the Chinese ruling elite conspired with the Manchu rulers and opened the way for them to the territory of China through the Shanghaiguan passage in the Great Wall of China. Under the onslaught of the Manchus, the detachment under the command of Li Zicheng was forced to leave the capital, and the young prince Fulin ascended the throne under the name of Emperor Shunzhi, initiating Manchu rule in China under the name of the Qing dynasty.

In the 17th and 18th centuries during the wars of conquest, the Dzungar Khanate was conquered, Tibet was annexed. Thus, the territory of the Qing Empire was finally formed, which lasted until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911. By the end. 18th century the capitalist powers, above all Great Britain, are trying to penetrate China for a market for their goods. Great Britain imposed the Opium War, which had begun in 1840, on the Qing Empire. As a result of the defeat in this war in 1842, the unequal Treaty of Nanking was signed with Great Britain, and then similar treaties with France and the USA. In 1851, the national oppression of the Manchu dynasty caused popular uprisings in the south of the country, led by Hong Xiuquan, who founded the Taiping state in 1853. It lasted more than 10 years, but in 1864 the Taiping movement was suppressed by the Manchus, used by the imperialist powers. In con. 19th century foreign powers increased their penetration into China. In 1884, France unleashed a war by invading China and Vietnam. In 1894 the Japanese started a war against China and Korea. As a result, China was defeated in both wars, and under the Treaty of Shimonoseki ceded vast territory to Japan, agreed to pay indemnity, give Japan the right to invest capital and build factories in China’s open ports. After the Sino-Japanese War, the issue of national salvation became even more acute and led to the development of a reform movement. Bourgeois reformers led by Kang Yuwei launched this movement, called the “100 Days of Reform.” These ideas were reflected in the decree of Emperor Guanxu issued in 1898, however, it was soon brutally suppressed by opposition forces led by Empress Cixi. The reformers did not support the Yihetuan (or “Boxer Rebellion”) movement that unfolded in 1899–1900. As in the period of suppression of the Taiping movement, the rebellion was crushed with the help of foreign armies of 8 powers. After the defeat of the Yihetuan movement, the bourgeois revolutionaries led by Sun Yat-sen began to fight not for reforms, but for the overthrow of the Manchu Qing dynasty. In 1905, Sun Yat-sen founded the United Union (Tongmenghui), a revolutionary organization of the Chinese bourgeoisie, which, after the victory of the Xinhai Revolution, was transformed into the Kuomintang. His political program consisted of 4 points: 1) the expulsion of the Manchus; 2) the revival of China; 3) creation of a republic; 4) equality of rights to land. On October 10, 1911, revolutionary-minded officers and soldiers in the city of Wuhan rebelled and took over the city. As a result of the uprising that engulfed the whole country after that, Manchu rule was overthrown. On January 1, 1912, in Nanjing, Sun Yat-sen took the oath as provisional president of the Republic of China.

Under the influence of the October Revolution in 1919, an anti-imperialist anti-feudal movement, known as the May 4th Movement, began in China. The impetus for it was the decision of the Paris Peace Conference to transfer to Japan special privileges in the province of Shandong, which Germany had previously enjoyed. As a result, student demonstrations began in China, followed by workers’ strikes, which forced the authorities to refuse to sign the Versailles Peace Treaty. The “May 4th Movement” created the basis for the formation of the Communist Party of China, and on June 1, 1921, the First Congress of the CPC was held in Shanghai, which was attended by 13 delegates, incl. Mao Zedong.

In 1923 the CCP decided to create a revolutionary united front and help Sun Yat-sen reorganize the Kuomintang. However, after the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925, the contradictions between the CPC and the Kuomintang began to escalate. On May 30, 1925, the massacre of demonstrators in Shanghai provoked protests throughout the country, and the revolution of 1925–27 began. But in April 1927, Chiang Kai-shek carried out a counter-revolutionary coup, and the Kuomintang party came to power.

In August 1927, under the leadership of the communists Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, He Long, Ye Ting, and Liu Bocheng, an armed uprising was organized in Nanchang. The CPC took a course towards carrying out an agrarian revolution and organizing new armed uprisings. In September 1927, on the border of the provinces of Hunan and Jiangxi, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the “autumn harvest” uprising was organized and the Red Army was formed, which created the revolutionary base of Jingganshan there. The Kuomintang launched three military campaigns against this base. While the Kuomintang was fighting the CCP, in 1931 Japan occupied Northeast China, created the puppet state of Manchukuo on the occupied territory, and directly threatened the northern regions of the country. At this time, Chiang Kai-shek launched a new campaign to encircle and suppress the Central Revolutionary Base in Jiangxi. In October 1934, the Red Army, pursued on the heels of the enemy, was forced to leave Jiangxi and make the Long March, 12,500 km long, through the climatically harsh regions of the country. As a result, the size of the Red Army was reduced from 300,000 to 30,000, and the CPC from 300,000 to 40,000. In January 1935, the CPC held an expanded meeting of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee in Zunyi (Guizhou Province), at which Mao Zedong became the leader of the CPC and the Red Army. In October 1935, the Red Army entered Northwestern China and set up a revolutionary stronghold there, Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia, with its capital in Yan’an (Shaanxi Province).

The turning point in the war against Japan was the “Xi’an events” on December 12, 1936. The Northeastern Army under the command of Zhang Xueliang and the 17th Army under the command of Yang Hucheng were sent to Northwest China, but under the influence of anti-Japanese sentiments of the masses of Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng accepted the CCP’s proposal for a united anti-Japanese front and arrested Chiang Kai-shek, who refused to accept it. At this time, a CCP delegation led by Zhou Enlai arrived in Xi’an to negotiate to resolve the incident, as a result of which Chiang Kai-shek was released and returned to Nanjing, the second period of cooperation between the Kuomintang and the CCP began to resist Japanese aggression.

In the summer of 1937, Japanese troops launched a military invasion of the interior regions of China. The protracted national liberation war of the Chinese people against Japanese imperialism began, which ended only in August 1945. It ended with the defeat of the USSR of Japan’s main armed forces in China, the Kwantung Army, and the surrender of Japan.

But despite the agreement signed in Chongqing in October 1945 between the CCP and the Kuomintang to prevent a civil war, in July 1946 the Kuomintang, with US support, unleashed a civil war in China. However, the CPC managed to win the peasants over to its side, implementing the slogan “to each plowman his own field” in the liberated territories. In addition, along with the workers and peasants, the middle and petty bourgeoisie came out on the side of the CPC. The Chinese Civil War hastened the political and economic collapse of the Kuomintang government. As a result, to the con. 1949 The People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) liberated all of mainland China except Tibet.

On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed and the Central People’s Government was established. In the early years of the existence of the PRC, socio-economic measures were taken. In June 1950, the Land Reform Law of the People’s Republic of China was adopted. As a result of the agrarian reform, more than 46 million hectares of former landowners’ land were distributed. To solve the main tasks of restoring the national economy, the leadership of the PRC nationalized the main means of production by confiscating all the property of the comprador bourgeoisie (bureaucratic capital) and eliminating the domination of foreign capital in the country. On the basis of property confiscated from bureaucratic capital, as well as former enterprises of Japanese capital and enterprises owned by war criminals,

In 1952, the CPC Central Committee formulated the party’s general line during the period of transition to socialism, the essence of which consisted in the simultaneous implementation of two interrelated tasks—industrialization and the transformation of private and capitalist property. To implement the general line of the CPC, the First Five-Year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the PRC for 1953–57 was drawn up. His main task was to create the basis for the socialist industrialization of China. In September 1954, the first session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) was held, which adopted the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. The most important event in the life of the country was the Eighth Congress of the CPC (September 1956), which approved the general line of building socialism. However, later in the PRC there were significant changes in economic policy, which meant a complete transition to a mobilization economy.

At the 2nd session of the Eighth Congress of the CPC (May 1958), the slogan was approved: “Straining all forces, striving forward, build socialism according to the principle: more, faster, better, more economical.” This meant the abolition of the previous line of the party, calculated for a relatively long period – from 1952 to 1967, and the adoption of a set of measures – a “great leap” in industry and the creation of people’s communes in agriculture, aimed at achieving an overestimated pace of building a socialist society. In August 1958, an expanded meeting of the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee was held in the resort town of Beidaihe on the shores of the Bohai Bay. At this meeting, decisions were made to sharply increase steel production to 27-30 million tons in 1959 and to 60 million tons in 1960 and to create people’s communes in the Chinese countryside. Revision of the main line of the party, decisions of the 8th Congress of the CPC and an attempt to implement the “Great Leap Forward”, the creation of people’s communes in the countryside had grave consequences for the Chinese economy. Due to the rejection of the principles of material interest, since 1960 industrial production began to decline sharply, the harvest, especially of grain crops, decreased significantly to 150 million tons per year, with an increase in the population by 100 million people. As a result, famine began in the country in 1960, which led to an absolute decline in the population of China for the first time in the 20th century.

In the beginning. 1960s emergency measures were taken to eliminate the consequences of the Great Leap Forward. The policy of “settlement” of the national economy was carried out under the leadership of Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi. At the cost of high costs to ser. 1960s succeeded in restoring the economy, which had been undermined by various unjustified experiments. In December 1964, the 1st session of the NPC of the 3rd convocation was held, at which the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou Enlai, announced the accomplishment of the task of regulating the economy and put forward a program for the development of the national economy, called the “Program of 4 Modernizations” (industry, defense, science and technology).

However, the “cultural revolution” that began in May 1966 and lasted more than 10 years dealt a blow to the implementation of this program. It disrupted China’s normal development process and caused great damage to the country. The “Cultural Revolution” was launched by Chairman of the CPC Central Committee Mao Zedong and was directed against his political opponents, primarily against Chinese President Liu Shaoqi and General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Deng Xiaoping, who in many documents of the “cultural revolution” were called “persons in power in party and those who follow the capitalist path. As a result, during the “cultural revolution” political opponents of Mao Zedong were isolated, public organizations (the party, trade unions, Komsomol) were eliminated from the political arena. Among the victims of the “cultural revolution” were many prominent party leaders and military leaders, numerous staff members at various levels. In the struggle for power in 1974–75, the leading role was taken by the so-called. “gang of four”, led by Jiang Qing – the wife of Mao Zedong. After the death of Mao Zedong in September 1976, she tried to seize supreme power in the country, but in October 1976 the Politburo of the CPC Central Committee managed to remove the “gang of four” from power, arrest Jiang Qing and persons close to her, and make numerous personnel changes in top positions in the Central Committee CCP, state and army.

As a result of the changes that had taken place already in 1977, Deng Xiaoping managed to return to all previously held posts in the party and government and in his practical activities to implement the thesis he put forward about focusing on the economy as the only right step towards overcoming the crisis and reviving the country. The main provisions of Deng Xiaoping’s program were presented by him in a report at the 3rd Plenum of the 11th CPC Central Committee in December 1978. The decisions of the 3rd Plenum of the CPC Central Committee on improving the economic mechanism and regulating the economy stimulated the development of a system of family contracts and production responsibility in the Chinese countryside. which contributed greatly to the recovery of the economy.

The Comprehensive Development Program of the People’s Republic of China, the reform strategy was considered and adopted at the XII Congress of the CPC (September 1982). It was decided that China would build socialism with Chinese characteristics. The main fundamental point in the theory of reform of the economic system in China was the new setting of the goals of economic reform under socialism. Over the course of more than 20 years of reform, three main economic slogans have been developed, corresponding to the three main stages of the reform. At the first stage (December 1978 – September 1984), the slogan “planned economy is the basis, market regulation is the supplement” was put forward. During this period, the main attention was paid to the countryside, but experiments were also carried out in the city to expand the economic independence of enterprises, and special economic zones (SEZs) were created. For the second stage (October 1984 – December 1991) of the deployment of reforms, the slogan “planned commodity economy” was used. At this stage, the center of gravity of the reform shifted from the countryside to the city, state-owned enterprises became the main link in the whole reform, and the main focus of the transition to the market was paid to price reform. At the same time, the reform began to gradually spread to the social sphere, the development of science, technology and education. The third stage, which runs from the beginning. 1992 to the present, goes under the slogan “socialist market economy”. At this stage, a new economic system is being formed, where the main thing is the further expansion and development of the market, the creation of a new enterprise management system, as well as the formation of a new system of macroregulation and state control.

In the spring of 1989, mass unrest and demonstrations unfolded in the PRC, which actually became an expression of dissatisfaction among various social strata and groups with the progress and results of reforms, the lag in the pace of reform of the political system from economic reform. Dissatisfaction with the progress of the reforms led people to demonstrations and rallies on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, on the streets and squares of other Chinese cities. The Chinese leadership decided to use the army to suppress popular unrest. On the night of June 4-5, 1989, tank columns under the command of General Yang Baibing entered Beijing, swept away all the barricades built by the demonstrators and established order in the city. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Zhao Ziyang was removed from his post and replaced by Jiang Zemin, who for more than 10 years has personified the leader of the “third generation”.

In the beginning. 1997, the main organizer of all Chinese reforms of the 1980-90s died. Deng Xiaoping. However, after his death, there were no fundamental changes in the political life of China. The 15th Congress of the CPC, held in September 1997, approved the political system of the People’s Republic of China with its basis in the form of People’s Congresses as the main body of legislative power, declared that Western political models were unacceptable for China, and confirmed the CCP’s monopoly on power with the existing system of consultations and cooperation between the CCP and other parties. through the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Council (CPPCC).

History of China