about 1766 BC
The Shang dynasty ruled a kingdom centered in the Huang He
about 1027 BC
The Zhou (Chou) people overthrew the Shang dynasty and set up
their own dynasty. The weak central government was supported by
semi-independent eastern warlords.
about 500 BC
Confucius advanced a revolutionary new system of ideas and
values. His philosophy guided China for over 2000 years and remains
The Qin (Ch’in) dynasty founded a tradition of a strong
central government. The Great Wall of China was begun.
The Sui dynasty completed a canal between the Yangtze valley
and northern China, which later became part of the Grand Canal. The canal
helped unify the country after several centuries of disorder and upheaval.
Chinese culture enjoyed another renaissance under the Tang
(T’ang) dynasty. Xi’an, the Tang capital, was the largest city in the world,
with over one million residents.
After a struggle for power, the Song (Sung) dynasty reunified
China. The Song rulers institutionalized neo-Confucianism and implemented
civil service examinations.
Mongols conquered all of China. Kublai Kahn established the
The Venetian trader Marco Polo visited China.
The Mongols were driven from China. Following Mongol rule, the
Ming dynasty developed a distaste for all foreign cultures.
The Manchus founded the Qing (Ch’ing) dynasty, but retained
the Ming system of government.
Chinese attempts to halt illegal opium smuggling by Europeans
led to China’s defeat in the Opium War. Great Britain gained Hong Kong and
increased trading rights in China.
Millions of Chinese died during the Taiping Rebellion.
Secret societies and nationalist groups attacked Westerners
during the Boxer Rebellion. Western armies crushed the rebellion.
The last Qing emperor was removed from the throne, and the
Republic of China was established.
Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists defeated Communists and
northern warlords to reunite China.
Mao Zedong led Chinese Communists on the Long March to
northern China, where they regrouped from a series of defeats to Nationalist
The Japanese army attacked China. Japan controlled most of
eastern China by the next year.
Following a united effort to defeat Japan, the Communists and
Nationalists renewed their civil war.
The People’s Republic of China was established. The
Nationalist government withdrew to the island of Taiwan.
The Cultural Revolution caused widespread economic and social
upheaval in China.
Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai both died. Deng Xiaoping began his
rise to power the following year.
China and Great Britain signed the Sino-British Joint
Declaration outlining the terms by which the British territory of Hong Kong,
located on China’s southern border, will be returned to Chinese sovereignty in
Portugal agreed to return its territory of Macau, located near
Hong Kong, to China in 1999.
Hundreds of students protesting for greater democracy were
massacred in and around Tian’an Men (Tiananmen) Square in Beijing.
China conducted military exercises in the Taiwan Strait,
increasing tensions with Taiwan.