History of China

History of China

The history of China begins with the early humans (Homo erectus) of the Paleolithic. Since then, the country has had an uninterrupted history of settlement. The focus was initially on the catchment area of ​​the Hwangho (Yellow River). It was not until the Song Dynasty (960–1269) that the north was overtaken by the south. Around 60 million people were already living in China at the time of Christ’s birth. Due to natural disasters, triggered primarily by the relocation of large rivers, the population continued to decline.

The earliest archeologically tangible empire was that of the Shang between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. The first exact historical date in Chinese history is the year 841 BC. When a king of the Zhou had to flee from insurgents. Qin Shi Huangdi 221 BC BC created the first empire. He also started building the Great Wall of China to protect China from nomadic peoples from the north. According to the Chinese view of rule, the emperor sat as the “Son of Heaven” in the center of the cosmos. His empire in the middle of the world only knew vassals and was always superior to others in its self-image. Foreign expeditions such as that of Admiral Zheng He in the Ming period (1368–1644) there were no conquests, but a demonstration of one’s own abilities. Confucius’ doctrine of virtue, which was developed in the pre-imperial period, shaped the state and social order until the fall of the empire. At times, Confucianism received competition from Daoism (Chinese philosophy and religion) and Buddhism.

In the 7th century AD, under the Tang Dynasty, China rose to become an empire that stretched as far as the Pamirs, as well as Korea and Tibet. During the Tang period, China’s “golden age,” there were many contacts to the west via the Silk Road. The capital Chang’an (Xi’an) grew into a metropolis of millions. In the 13th century the Mongols conquered the country and Kubilai , the grandson of Genghis Khan , founded the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). After his return (1295), Marco Polo reported on the splendid court holding in Beijing. Around 1500 Europeans got to know Chinese achievements directly, e.g. B. the sericulture (silk), the production of paper and the porcelain.

In the 17th century, China reached its greatest expansion under the Manchu emperors (Qing dynasty). However, the Europeans, who wanted to open up China forcibly for trade (Opium War 1840–42, Lorcha War), and severe internal unrest, especially the Taiping uprising (1851–64), shook the empire. Its powerlessness was demonstrated by the so-called Boxer Rebellion (1900/01), when major foreign powers openly intervened militarily.

In 1912 China became a republic with Sun Yat-sen as the first president, although warlords challenged him for rule. The National Chinese (Guomindang) under Chiang Kai-shek reestablished national unity, but got caught up in a civil war against the communists under Mao Zedong , which only rested during the Sino-Japanese War 1937-45.

After the Communist victory, Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic in 1949; the national Chinese withdrew to Taiwan. In 1951, China incorporated Tibet. Under Mao’s direction, the Communist Party (CCP) carried out the radical restructuring of economic and social conditions (Maoism). Failed experiments like the Great Leap Forward (1958–60 / 61) cost millions of lives. The Cultural Revolution (1966–76) shattered the country. In terms of foreign policy, China fought with the Soviet Union over the leadership of the world communist movement.

Only after Mao’s death (1976) and the elimination of the radical left »Gang of Four« did the country open up under the leadership of the »pragmatist« Deng Xiaoping . The exchange with the western industrialized countries and the “socialist market economy” propagated by the CCP unleashed the domestic productive forces and promoted technical progress. In 1997 the British Hong Kong was incorporated into the People’s Republic, in 1999 Macau , which had been under Portuguese sovereignty until then. The CCP did not give up its leading role in the state and also defended it with violence, as the crackdown on the so-called democracy movement in 1989 showed. As party leader and head of state (from 2012/13), Xi Jinping concentrated as much power in his hand as Mao. China’s claim to foreign policy leadership in Asia is becoming ever more open.

History of China


According to homeagerly, the only party of importance is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP; founded in 1921), the leading role of which is enshrined in the constitution. The CCP is organized according to the principle of democratic centralism and exercises its leadership and control function at all levels of society through the close (also personal) amalgamation of party and state. The admitted small “democratic” parties have little influence.


The umbrella organization is the All-China Trade Union Confederation (founded in 1925; more than 300 million members). The unions operating under this were broken up by Chiang Kai-shek in the late 1920s , with the exception of those who were active in CCP-ruled areas, and were rebuilt in 1948 on the Soviet model. They were paralyzed during the Cultural Revolution and did not reorganize until 1978. The individual trade unions united in the umbrella organization are primarily committed to increasing production and labor productivity. Other tasks are the monitoring and improvement of working conditions and in-company training. In the companies, the entire social area is entrusted to the trade unions.