The History of China Part II
Song and Border Dynasties
Following the fall of the Tang Dynasty in 907, a period of wrestling known as the Five Dynasties and ten kingdoms followed. The Song Dynasty was established in 960, but the Khitani Liao Dynasty had existed in Mongolia and parts of northern China since 907. The Tangut Dynasty West Xia was founded in 1038 in the area where Gansu and Shaanxi are today, west of Liao. Liao was a troubled state for Song to relate to, so Song allied in 1121 with the Jurchen nomads in the north to attack Liao. This led Jurchen to establish his own state, Jin (J ¨©n½ð), which took over after Liao. The Jin Dynasty broke the alliance with Song in 1125, and by 1127 the northern boundary of the Song State had been pushed south.
In the first third of the 13th century, fighting between the Mongols during the Genghis Khan, the Jin Dynasty and the West Xia began. The Mongols repeatedly sent forces into these states. The final conquest of North China first occurred in 1227, during Genghis Khan’s last campaign.
According to Sourcemakeup, the Song dynasty and the Mongols had been allies up to that point, but battles broke out between them. Genghis Khan’s grandson Khubilai Khan completed the conquest of China and created a new dynasty under the motto yu¨¢nÔª (“new beginning”), ie the Yuan dynasty in 1275.
The Song Dynasty began a period of rich cultural development, especially in the arts and philosophy. New Confucianism dates from this time. China’s ancient monuments were explored (bronzes, inscriptions, seals, tombs) – art collectors, encyclopedists, travelers and librarians gathered and arranged the huge material. During the Yuan, China was a leading part of the Mongolian empire, and extensive trade across large distances led to a rich exchange of culture and technology.
Ming Dynasty (1368¨C1644)
The Ming Dynasty was not founded as the “conquest dynasties ” of Yuan, Liao and Jin by nomadic peoples from the north (Mongols, Kitans and Jurassians), but by Chinese Buddhist monk and peasant leader Zhu Yuanzhang. The dynasty saw a strengthening of the monarchy, which subsequently came into sharp conflict with the literary academies.
The Ming dynasty was relatively isolated from the outside world. China had sent ships as far as the East African coast at the beginning of the dynasty, before European ships reached it, but shortly afterwards, the emperor decided that travel by large ships to other countries was too expensive and banned them.
Qing Dynasty (1644¨C1911)
The founders of the Qing Dynasty had both co-operated and been at odds with the previous Ming Dynasty from their point of origin in Manjury, northwest of China. Their rule was based on a stratification along ethnic divides, where the Chinese were subjugated to the man-fleets. Innovation in technology and agriculture led to strong population growth during this period. It was also a whole new foreign policy situation for China through increased contact with the outside world, especially with the Russian Empire in the north and the European naval powers along the coast.
At the beginning of the 19th century was a time of great social upheaval, especially the Taiping rebellion and the Opium wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860). The wars of opium led to China being opened up to the rest of the world through the treaty ports.
Towards the end of Qing, an attempt was made to establish a constitution and people’s assembly, but without any significant success. The revolution in 1911 led to the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912.
Republic of China (1911¨C1949)
With the fall of the Qing Dynasty, a form of parliamentarism was introduced in China. Communists were already active in the 1920s.
China’s relations with Japan were tense at all times, and there were often acts of war between the two nations. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, China formally joined World War II.
China’s prestige increased during the war, and they participated in important meetings with the Allies. The country also got a permanent seat on the UN Security Council after the war was over. Inland, the nationalists had weakened and the communists had strengthened their position. There were still sparks between the two factions after the war, and US attempts at mediation did not advance.
The Communists won the civil war and established the People’s Republic of China, while the Republic of China continued on Taiwan.
People’s Republic of China (1949¨C)
At the establishment of the People’s Republic, Mao Zedong was the head of state for the first ten years. During this period, China gained a close relationship with the Soviet Union, much as a consequence of US support for Taiwan. Major political steps were taken in the social conditions, especially for the peasants. These gripes, including the big leap, largely failed, and ended in starvation for many people.
The People’s Republic conquered Tibet and made preparations for the conquest of Taiwan that was never carried out. After Josef Stalin’s death, the relationship between the two communist superpowers expired, and they began to move in very different directions.
After Mao’s death in 1976 and the end of the cultural revolution, there was a fight for war within the Communist Party. Two factions were central: the ideologically Maoist and the pragmatic. It was the last faction led by Deng Xiaoping that eventually took over and opened up for the course the country has followed to this day.