China is one of the oldest civilizations on this earth. This is, after all, the country that gave us Peking Man, who lived three-quarters of a million years ago. More realistically, the Chinese figure their civilization dates back just 5,000 years.
The Chinese base their history through the ages on dynasties, and generally consider the Xia Dynasty (2000 – 1200 BC) to be the first dynasty. The last dynasty was the Qing Dynasty which ended in 1911 when the youngster Pu Yi abdicated as the last emperor of China.
In decades past, China was considered a Third World country. No more. In the 21st century, it is emerging as a Super Power. To understand how China got to the point it is today, it is important to understand its past.
- The People’s Republic of China is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party of China.
- Its capital city is Beijing.
- The PRC also claims Taiwan—which is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), a separate political entity—as its 23rd province, a claim controversial due to the complex political status of Taiwan and the unresolved Chinese Civil War.
- China’s political system was based on hereditary monarchies, known as dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythological Xia of the Yellow River basin.
- Since 221 BC, when the Qin Dynasty first conquered several states to form a Chinese empire, the country has expanded, fractured and been reformed numerous times.
- The Republic of China, founded in 1911 after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, ruled the Chinese mainland until 1949.
- In the 1946–1949 phase of the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Communist Party defeated the nationalist Kuomintang in mainland China and established the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949.
- The Kuomintang relocated the ROC government to Taiwan, establishing its capital in Taipei.
- China is also a member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the WTO, APEC, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the BCIM and the G-20.
- As of 2012, it is the world’s second-largest economy, after the United States, by both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP), and is also the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods.
- However, in the later part of the Qing Dynasty, China’s economic development began to slow and Europe’s rapid development in the Industrial Revolution enabled it to surpass China.
- Under the succeeding Tang and Song dynasties, Chinese technology and culture entered a golden age.
- In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, which would last until Mao’s death a decade later.
- Under Jiang and Zhu’s ten years of administration, China’s economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 11.2%.
- China also has five subdivisions officially termed autonomous regions, each with a designated minority group; four municipalities; and two Special Administrative Regions (SARs), which enjoy a degree of political autonomy.
- China is also a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), along with Russia and the Central Asian republics.
- They sought to change some traditional aspects of Chinese culture, such as rural land tenure, sexism, and the Confucian system of education, while preserving others, such as the family structure and culture of obedience to the state.