The history of China in a nutshell….
So for all you readers of my blog I will attempt to condense the essence of China in several paragraphs.
China has been a country of great wealth and prosperity since ancient times. Before Greece and soon after Egypt had become a full-fledged civilization, China was fast become a great empire-a civilization of great sophistication. China before and during the Warring States Period (500-200BC) was not the most cohesive country. Since it covered such a large area it was natural that there were many social divides. Different emperors with different ideologies ruled their own provinces, and these rulers would spar with each other over territory creating a time of chaos for the Chinese People.
Towards the end of the Spring and Autumn Period directly proceeding the Warring States Period a scholar by the name of Kongzi (Confucius) started to write a series of books on the way to balance (Dao) called the Dialects, these books he believed would lead China to peace and prosperity, and unify his country under one beloved empire. His philosophies preached restraint and duty to ones place in society, meaning that people prescribing to Confucianism would be at ease with the way things were and dutifully accept their responsibilities to China and the greater good. Although Kongzi like other great philosophers never reached acclaim in his lifetime, later after the destructive times of the Warring States his writings reached the hands of the new rulers of China, the Han. The Han Dynasty saw great potential in the teachings of Kongzi and set his philosophies into effect by making Confucianism the official philosophy of China, and instating the study of Kongzi’s work a requirement of being high up in China’s government. Since the Dialects preached that knowledge was the key to happiness and a flourishing society, China grew into an enviable society inventing the printing press, and gunpowder.
Later empires built on the Confucian state creating more amazing feats for China. China after Kongzi was a more unified state. Although there were threats to its well being they were mostly internal and the empire survived. From time to time the Mandate of Heaven would be overturned but China’s identity remained the same. Surrounding barbarians were held off using tactics similar to those found in The Art of War. China’s last resort was always war.
Encompassing many varied regions China did not feel the need to be expansionist like other European countries. As England, France and Spain colonized many parts of the globe, China still looked inward. It was the Empire of the Sun-the only part of the world that mattered, others were simply inferior. This is where China floundered. Because it was unwilling to associate itself in trade negotiations with other countries, which were quickly transitioning to industrialized, China, fell behind the curb. It’s ignorance of European innovations and foreign policy made it weak in the face of a growing western power. The Qing Dynasty was the last Dynasty to see the light of day.
The West and East came head to head in the Opium Wars a series of conflicts regarding the availability of Opium in China’s markets. The continued desire for premium opium in the England was incongruous with the Empires desires to make an embargo on all imports of exports of the drug, which had taken the China by storm, creating an unmotivated workforce. The wars were also about more than just opium; China had refused to enter into trade negotiations that weren’t considered “tribute” to the empire with Europeans. As a result England had staged many “nice” attempts win over the Qing Empire only to be met with polite condescension. England was not one to be messed with, and in the Opium wars China was forced to acknowledge a new world order, one where Western countries were a threat to China’s very existence. Russia and Japan also were a major cause of concern to China in the 19th century. China was entering into another period of constant conflict.
China’s conflict with outside forces forced the people of China to look for new methods of modernization. Stuck in their old ways China would surely be overrun by other Asian countries like Japan and USSR-Soviet Russia. Taking pointers from Marxist communism-Chinese revolutionaries latched on to these ideals in hopes that like Russia they could transition China into an industrialized country.
China did not emerge from constant conflict until after the Cultural Revolution in 1949 in which the communists won the civil war and the Qing dynasty was thrown to the curb. China’s culture and values had been reestablished and China was in a position of great weakness. As Maoist China came into power the communist structure started to take hold. Like Russia under Stalin, communism came at great costs. In rural areas a large percentage of China’s population died off in famines caused by the governments seizure of agricultural outputs. The motivation of workers waned and China’s GDP fell. It appeared that China along with other communist countries would remain in economic limbo. In the early 1990’s things started to change for China’s economy, with new policies aiming at lowering inflation and opening the economy to new markets and a more capitalist approach, business in China boomed. The GDP grew immensely and China was propelled into a new age of success. (Please take in mind I made no references to books or websites. This is off the top of my head, so if it sucks…sorry.)