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next   To help restore order after the Ming Dynasty’s last emperor hanged himself, the Chinese invited foreign Manchu soldiers into their country. As the Manchus quashed resistance, they confiscated land and declared a new dynasty, the Ch’ing, by 1673.
Shang (1523-1027 BC)  
Chou (1027-221 BC)  
Ch'in (221-206 BC)  
Han (206 BC-AD 220)   Ch’ing emperors were autocratic, controlling almost completely the administration’s bureaucracy. Like the Ming and other dynastic emperors, they were land hungry and in time occupied Manchuria, Mongolia, Sinkiang, and Taiwan. They also made protectorates out of Tibet, Nepal, Burma, Vietnam, and Siam.
Three Kingdoms (220-581)  
Sui (581-618)  
T'ang (618-907)  
Sung (907-1279)  
Yüan (1279-1368)   In an age of missionary zeal, the West sent priests and preachers who sought converts but also helped the Ch’ing map its great lands as China reached its maximum historical reach. And with 300,000,000 people, it was the world’s most populous and, arguably, wealthiest country.
Ming (1368-1644)  
Ch'ing (1644-1912)  
Opening the Door (1844-1911)  
The Period of Revolution (1912-1949)  
Mao's Dynasty (1949-1976)   This period proved, however, to be China’s zenith. The country had difficulty keeping pace with industrialized countries. New farming techniques, including the introduction of potatoes and maize from America, proved too little to keep pace with its population growth. Strained resources, pressure by European powers, and severe flooding wracked China’s strength.
Raising the Bamboo Curtain (1972-1979)  
Into the Next Millennium (1979-)  
  China’s port cities were increasingly dominated by merchant fleets of the West. One of their prized imports was the drug opium. Imperial measures to curb its spread led to the Opium Wars of the middle part of the nineteenth century. These China lost, resulting in Britain, France, Japan, and others carving up China’s coast. Millions of Chinese peasants were thrown out of work
Chinese "Boxer"
c. 1900
Ch'ing Period

Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration



In this cauldron of the disaffected, anti-foreign sentiment boiled, and from it spilled the Taipings, a zealous Confucian-Christian group numbering in the millions. The Taipings rebelled and, by 1853, they captured the city of Nanking. Here they declared the formation of a new state and Nanking its “Heavenly Capital.” But their victory ended in 1864 as government forces, aided by European armies finally crushed the rebellion.

Sobered by these experiences, China plotted a course for modernizing but found it difficult to sail against the tide of centuries of tradition. All the while foreign powers continued to slice territory from the coast, and in 1900 another rebellion erupted. Known as the Boxers, these anti-foreigner peasants laid siege to the embassy district of Peking. Despite the support of Ch’ing’s Dowager Empress, this uprising was routed by a coalition of foreign armies, further humiliating China and costing it dearly in territory and revenue.
The Emperor began new reforms with greater earnest, modernizing government and the education system. But time had run out on imperial rule. In 1911 the province of Wuchung declared its independence, and other provinces quickly followed. In 1912 China declared itself a republic.