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Beijing History

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Chinese History

Chairman Mao Zedong, influential figure in Chinese history
Chinese History – The rise and fall of Empires

Chinese people like to boast that they have the longest history of any civilisation on earth. It’s true, many elements of Chinese culture (characters, dragons, jade) can be traced back over 5,000 years.

The opening lines of the historical novel ‘Romance Of The Three Kingdoms’ sums up Chinese history very neatly:

“The Empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide.
Thus it has ever been”

Ever since Sima Qian wrote the history of the deposed Qin dynasty in 109BC, Chinese history has been the story of the rise and fall of dynasties – periods of relative stability when the dynasty was strong intersperesed with years or even decades of war as the dynasty crumbled and fell.

Chinese History – Beginning a new period of stability

Seen in this light, recent Chinese history is the story of the collapse of the Qing dynasty, followed by around four decades of chaos (~1912-1949) until a new regime finally gained control and cemented its position.

Chinese history – Storybook and cultural yardstick

Chinese history is replete with tales of corrupt tyrants, upstanding bureaucrats and bandits ascending the throne. It’s also a window onto the Chinese mind. All Chinese people know plenty of Chinese history, and it’s the yardstick by which they judge the present. If you want to understand the way Chinese people see things, you have to see the history they use to appraise the present.

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