Chinese History Cheat Sheet Shang

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Chinese History Cheat Sheet

  • 1600-1027 B.C.E.

  • Based in the Yellow River Valley

  • Trade centered

  • Use of bronze

  • Ethnocentric, patriarchal, ancestor worship, fortune telling

  • System of writing, pictograms


  • 1027-771 B.C.E.

  • longest lasting dynasty

  • Mandate of Heaven

  • Establishment of bureaucracy

  • Civil wars led to the “Warring States Period” 480-221 B.C.E. 3 Chinese philosophies came from this time period:

  • Confucianism (system of ethics based on good behavior according to rank, filial piety, three submissions, hierarchy, the sage and learning are valued, tradition and family, benevolence, frugality)

  • Legalism (people are evil, need strict laws and harsh punishments)

  • Daoism (belief in the “way” and inaction, started by Lao Tzu)


  • 221-206 B.C.E.

  • shortest dynasty

  • began work on the Great Wall

  • China gets its name from Qin

  • Established by Shi Huangdi (first emperor)

  • Used legalism, strict laws and harsh punishments

  • Dictatorial and highly centralized


  • 206-220 C.E.

  • existed during Roman Empire

  • Silk Road fostered trade between the two

  • Paper making, metals

  • Spread Buddhism, currency, language,

  • Confucianism

  • Roads, fortifications, canals

  • Tax collecting

  • Collapsed because of floods, famine, inflation, peasant unrest, bandits, government corruption, outside invaders


  • 589-618 C.E.

  • reunified China, expanded its borders

  • Confucianism

  • Built Grand Canal and extended the Great Wall of China

  • Collapsed because of overextension


  • 618-907

  • not Chinese, Turkic people from Central Asia

  • Buddhist heritage

  • Largest empire

  • Forced neighbors (Vietnam, Korea) into tribute system

  • Fostered trade along Silk Road and Indian Ocean

  • Cosmopolitan society

  • Poetry

  • Avoided overcentralization

  • Used crossbow and stirrups

  • Monopoly on silk disappeared

  • Blamed upheavals on Buddhist monks, wanted to restore Confucian values of hierarchy and social harmony, role of women, marriage. Ended in hatred of barbarian outsiders.


  • 960-1127

  • East Central China

  • industry, printing, science, math, seafaring, the compass, the junk, gunpowder

  • rejected barbaric influences

  • used civil service exam

  • developed Confucian ties with Korea and Japan

  • prosperity increased population

  • urban centers, elites were modern

  • decline in the status of women with Confucian revival (Neo-Confucianism) and footbinding, lower class women enjoyed more freedom but were still secondary in status to men.

  • Chan or Zen Buddhism (Japan) focused on meditation


  • 1279-1368

  • Mongol, established by Kublai Khan (visited by Marco Polo)

  • Cosmopolitan (multi-ethnic), brought in Arabs and Jews from Mongol Empire to help in administration

  • Tax farming

  • Increase in trade (with the West on the Silk Road), science, technology

  • Made Beijing the capital

  • Merchants were privileged, urbanization, bad for peasants

  • Collapsed because of decrease in population, plague, and power conflict with Mongol princes.


  • 1368-1644

  • slowdown in technological advancements

  • nationalistic

  • influx of silver

  • expansionistic (forced tribute from Vietnam and Korea) , voyages of Zheng He (muslim eunuch, effective ambassador, brought back giraffes, huge ships, survey of Indian survey, personal project Emperor Yongle-built Forbidden City)

  • blue and white porcelain

  • Jesuit missionaries (Matteo Ricci) and Dutch East India Company were transmitters of European culture and technology.

  • Disease, migration, inflation, and invitation for the Manchus to put down civil unrest caused collapse


  • 1644-1911

  • Manchus, from Manchuria

  • International, encouraged trade

  • Tea diplomacy

  • Canton system

  • McCartney Mission

  • Opium War

  • Extraterritoriality

  • Increase in population led to environmental degradation.

  • Government corruption, empty treasury

  • Increase in banditry and social unrest

  • Taiping Rebellion led to decentralization, power zones, foreign influence

  • Boxer Rebellion

  • Empress Dowager Cixi

  • Henry Pu Yi-the last emperor


  • 1912-1949

  • Revolution of 1912 led to overthrow of Qing empire

  • Sun Yat-sen, leader of the Guomindang (National People’s Party) influenced by nationalism, socialism and democracy. Elected president in 1911 but had no military forces and was quickly overthrown.

  • Yuan elected president and wanted to crush Guomindang.

  • 1920-1929 warlord era, opium trade, only the treaty ports prospered

  • Sun makes comeback in the 1920s, impressed by Lenin but dies and Chiang Kai-Shek takes power, he wants to crush warlords and communists. Wanted to modernize but had incompetent corrupt officials

  • 20 years after the fall of the Qing Empire, China in poverty, corruption, and suffering natural disasters.

Mao Zedong (Tse-tung)

  • 1949-1976

  • entered communist party in 1921, influenced by Stalin, wanted to redistribute land to peasants. Reliance on peasants was departure from Marx and Lenin.

  • Advocate of woman’s rights

  • Used guerilla warfare

  • 1934 Long March, out of 100,000 only 4,000 made it to southern mountains to the North.

  • 1937 Japan controls Korea, Manchuria, Taiwan, Beijing

  • Chinese resist Japanese under communists

  • During Rape of Nanking (genocidal massacre of Chinese by Japanese in the city of Nanking in1937), Chiang orders a “scorched earth policy” and hasYellow River dikes blasted and kills over 1,000 of his own people. Drafts 3 million but had only 1 million rifles, increased farmers taxes and increase in famine.

  • Communists defeat nationalists in 1949, established People’s Republic of China, main ally the Soviets.

  • First Five Year Plan made China an industrial power.

  • 1958 Great Leap Forward, intensified collectivization of agriculture and led to crop failure, famine and killed roughly 15 million.

  • Communists destroyed traditional culture of family farms and Confucian values (hierarchy abolished). One child policy instituted to control population.

  • Dissenters and class enemies persecuted.

  • 1966 Cultural Revolution made to rekindle revolutionary fervor in youth. Used censorship and indoctrination. The Little Red Book, a collection of Mao’s sayings, was one acceptable source of knowledge. Led to criticism and imprisonment of teachers, intellectuals and party leaders who were sent to forced labor camps where they would be “reeducated.”

  • Death in 1976, followed by economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping.

Deng Xiaoping

  • 1976-1997

  • transformed economy to include free market capitalism and foreign investment

  • allowed for limited business and property ownership, reforms were very successful.

  • Fastest growing economy in the world

  • The government remains communist in a social and political sense.

  • 1989 protests for democratic reforms in Tiananmen Square led to government massacre.

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