China for Physicists China has money. China is hungry for science and technology. China thus will host and support many international conferences for physicists. Is the money the only item we can expect from China?
- Chen Ning Yang used claim his interest in symmetry problems came from Chinese
architecture. He used to show photos of Chinese decorations whenever he gave
- Murray Gell-Mann's search for the quarks started from the concept of
"Eight-fold Way," known to be derived from Buddhism. However, this concept
could have come from the eight-angled object called "octagon" most commonly
seen in Chinese decorations. You may ask Gell-Mann directly whether China
has anything to do with his "Eight-fold Way."
- Hideki Yukawa was able to read the original writings on Taoism by
Laotze and his disciples. It said that his original ideas
in physics were formulated according to this ancient philosophy. It is
well known how he developed the concept of mesons. Some Japanese
physicists say that Yukawa formulated the concept of the string model.
I am inclined to accept this view, but I choose not to elaborate
on this at this time. You may visit my
- I make some people happy and make some other people angry by saying Einstein's
relativity has something to do with the ancient Chinese philosophy called Taoism.
Einstein was not a Taoist, but it is well known that he had a Kantian base
because he was very enthusiastic about Immanuel Kant's philosophy when he was
The question is in what way Kantianism and Taoism are the same, and in what way they are different. If different, Einstein was leaning toward Taoism which does not require "Ding an Sich" or absolute frame. See my webpage dedicated to this problem.
Yellow River and the Cradle of Chinese CivilizationThe Yellow River flows from China's west and reaches the north of the Shandong Peninsula (south-east of Beijing), and then dumps its water to the Yellow Sea. The River passes through a flat land in the central land of China. This region has its own Chinese name difficult to pronounce, but the area is around the city of Xian, 2000 km south-west of Beijing and 300 north-west of Shanghai. We shall call this area the Xian region.
- Because the Xian region is flat, the Yellow River changed its route many times
throughout the history, creating many minor waterways throughout the region.
Needless to say, these waterways provides an excellent transportation network.
The River also spreads fertile soils. Thus, many people with different
life-styles came to this region and started constructing the civilization
- As early as 4000 BC (6000 years ago), there was a settlement of the people
whose life-style was similar to that of American Indians. Thus, they
were Mongolians. They had a degree of pottery technology. They knew how
to make things from muds and clays by baking them.
- Unfortunately, they left no written materials. The recorded history of China started somewhat later.
The Earliest Dynasties and Feudalism
- Xia Dynasty (2070 -- 1600 BC). The earliest dynasty in China.
Many tribes came to the Xian region through the waterways provided by
the Yellow River and its branches. They started constructing communities.
They attempted to communicate by drawing pictures. They became
Chinese characters. As for the common language, singing played the major
roles. This is the reason why spoken Chinese still has tones.
People with different backgrounds had to live together. They therefore started the concept of harmony which plays the major role in the Chinese philosophy of Taoism.
- Shang Dynasty (1600 -- 1046 BC). Chinese started developing metal tools.
They found out how to extract bronze from raw minerals. With the bronze
tools they could develop their farm fields more effectively.
- Zhou Dynasty (1046 -- 771) developed organized farming. Thus, they were able to develop feudalism, and the king was the feudal lord.
Spring-Autumn and Warlords Periods (771 -- 221 BC)
- The organized agriculture of feudalism produced more food than the people
can consume. Thus the community can feed those who do not work in the
farm fields. Some of them could go out for deer hunting. The deer meats
could enhance the food supplies. Thus, those feudal lords could transform
their hunters into soldiers. The feudal lords became war loads.
- Thus, there came the period of war loads. While they fought, the people
had to flee from the war zones This caused the spread of the initial
civilization along the Yellow River toward the Shandong Peninsula
south-east of Beijing in the Yellow Sea.
- In the Shandong area, some people sat down and did deep thinking. They
even wrote down their thoughts, by carving the letters on wooden plates.
Among them, the best known Chinese was Confucius. Did you know he was
also a musician?
- During this difficult war period, China produced many other scholars who
still influence our lives, particularly my life. The list is very long,
- Laotze, who formulate the concept of harmony. His philosophy is known
as Taoism. How did this philosophy develop? Chinese civilization was
constructed by many different people who came to the banks of the
Yellow River. They came with different languages, different letters,
and different ways of thinking. In order to communicate, they
drew pictures, which became Chinese characters. For oral communications,
they sang songs. This is the reason why spoken Chinese has tones.
How about different ideas? They divided into two opposite groups. This is how the concept of Yin and Yang was developed. The world therefore operates on the harmony of Yin and Yang.
This is not unlike the way in which Americans developed their political system. People have many different opinions, but they can be divided into two different groups, since otherwise it is impossible to manage. Then, those two parties seek the harmony. This is known as America's bipartisanship.
- Suntzu, who wrote a psychology book based on human desire to fight and
win. Some centuries later Sigmund Freud wrote a similar book based
on human desire to talk to opposite genders.
My maternal grandfather was quite fond of Suntzu's books and used to tell me the stories. During my long professional life since 1961, some of my colleagues attempted to play shady games on me. They got some tastes of my Suntsuism.
- Laotze, who formulate the concept of harmony. His philosophy is known as Taoism. How did this philosophy develop? Chinese civilization was constructed by many different people who came to the banks of the Yellow River. They came with different languages, different letters, and different ways of thinking. In order to communicate, they drew pictures, which became Chinese characters. For oral communications, they sang songs. This is the reason why spoken Chinese has tones.
Qin and Han Dynasties
- Emperor Chin started building the Great Wall.
- He was a strong man and disliked criticisms from scholars. He burnt all the
books and buried all the scholars alive. Before this event, Chinese fortune
telling was very accurate. It is inaccurate these days, because all those
good books were lost then.
- Emperor Chin did not want to die, and sent a group of people to find a medicine
which would keep him alive forever. Many people believe those people went to
Japan and never went back.
- Although strong, Emperor Chin did not have any governing rules or ideology. Everybody had to please him. Thus his empire collapsed soon after he died.
- The early (west) Han started in 2006 BC and lasted until 25 BC, but was interrupted
due to quarrels among the royal family. The later (east) Han lasted from 25 BC to
- The Chinese identity as the cultured people was established during this dynasty.
Even these days, Chinese take seriously whether a person has a Han ancestry or
not. If yes, you are a proper Chinese called Han Chinese. Otherwise, you are
not. Chinese still take this distinction seriously. This is the reason why
there are still regional conflicts in China.
- During this peaceful period, Chinese invented many good things for them.
In 105, the Chinese scientist named Tsai Lun invented the paper on which
we can write. This invention allowed Chinese to write many poems and stories.
This also allowed them to draw and paint pictures. They could draw pictures
before building houses. They also could paint beautiful women. Thus the
development of arts and literature continued.
- Also during this period, Chinese invented Tofu, which is becoming popular
in the Western world these days.
- The Han Dynasty was able to expand its territory to the northeastern region
now called Manchuria, and also toward Central Asia. China established regular
trade routes toward Syria and Turkey.
- In 166 AD, the Han Emperor received a mission from Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (called Andun in Chinese history). Antoninus died in 161 AD, but it could have taken more than five years to reach Rome to China. Those Romans could have come to Syria first and spent some years to arrange a transportation to China (This is my guess). For other stories, go to the Wikipedia page on this subject.
- Han got divided into three kingdoms. This period lasted less than 80 years,
but left many interesting war stories.
- The country got divided into many more kingdoms and warlords, and the period of confusion lasted until 581 AD. When there is a lack of the central authority, northern barbarians come in and participate in the Chinese affairs. During this process, the barbarians became absorbed into Chinese culture, and they become Chinese.
Sui (581 -- 618) and Tang (618 -- 907) DynastiesIn 581 AD, the Sui Dynasty unified China into one country, but did not last too long. It ended in 618.
- The most important accomplishment of the Sui Dynasty was the completion
of the Grand Canal between Beijing and Hangzhou. The idea of building the
canal was to connect the Yellow River (north) and the Yangtze River (south),
and the project started 1000 years earlier during the Spring-Autumn period.
The Sui Dynasty was strong enough to complete the job.
- During this period, Buddhism became popular among Chinese. Buddhism
came to China earlier, but it started spreading during the Sui period.
This process continued until recent times. These days, about eighty
percent of Chinese are Buddhists of Buddhist-oriented.
- The Sui Dynasty made repeated military ventures toward its eastern neighbor called Koguryo, but was not successful. Koguryo was an early name of Korea. This is the reason why Korea did not get absorbed into China, and maintains its identify as an independent country. Koreans still honor their generals who defeated the invading Sui army.
In 618 AD, the Tang Dynasty inherited the Sui Dynasty.
- Like Han, Tang's governing principle was Confucianism, but the Tang
elites were interested in Taoism. As a consequence, the ethics
cook book of Confucianism was getting organized into scientific theory.
Confucius tells how students should behave, and how teachers how
teachers. The Tang elites were interested in why, for the sake of the
harmony among the people.
Buddhism continued flourishing during this period.
Tang's architecture and Tang's furniture set the standards for China and other Asian countries until these days.
- Taoism was their basis for scientific reasoning. For instance,
they developed a theory of medicine based on harmony. You are a healthy
person if all the organs of your body is in harmony. You will become
sick if the harmony is broken. These days, Chinese clinics use both
the western medicine and their traditional Chinese medicine.
- Tang's literature was also based on harmony. There are more than
50,000 Tang poems known today. Most of them praise the harmony between
the nature and humans, and also the harmony among humans. Koreans imported
many poems from Tang. During this process, Taoism came to Korea.
If I have a tendency to emphasize the harmony in my writings, it is
due to Tang's influence on Korean way of thinking. I had to study
many Tang poems during my high school years. Indeed, I made many
webpages having to do with harmony. See
- The Tang Dynasty also developed the wet-field technology to grow
rice. We still use this wet-field method to produce rice. Tang's idea
was to let everybody eat rice. The word Mandarin means the privileged
people who eat rice, instead of weeds.
- Tang's capital city was called Chang-An. It was a walled city
within the present city of Xian. The population of this city was one
million, and it was the largest city in the world during that period.
The rectangular city wall is 4 km
east-west and 3 km north-south. The old Japanese capital
city of Nara was copied from Chang-An, as is well known.
Even these days, Chang-An means the capital city to Chinese. When Chinese soldiers march on their national day of October 1, they march on a 100-wide street just north of the Tian-Anmin square. This important street is called Chang-An Street.
- Chang-An was the major trading place for silk-road merchants.
People were dressed in silk, and Japanese women wanted look like
the Chang-An women. Japanese kimono came from the fashion of
Yang Guifei was Tang's most beautiful woman, and was the Emperor Xuanzong's favorite wife. It was a great honor for me to have a photo with her at a hot-spring resort palace where she used to spend time with the Emperor.
- In order to improve the quality of the government, Tang introduced
the civil service exam system. In order to become a government official,
a young man should study hard and pass a tough examination. Because
of this, Chinese still believe that one has to study hard in order to
achieve a higher position in the society.
Indeed, Tang's prosperity reached its highest point during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong (712-756). Chang-An's streets were bright during the nights. Everybody was wearing silk dress. Song-and-dance parties every night. Their happiness was well recorded by Tang poems, especially by Li Bei, who was quite fond of praising the harmony between the moon and himself.
- Among the Emperor's wives, the most beautiful woman was Yang Guifei. They used to spend time together at a hot-spring palace some distance away from Chang-An. Here is the Emperor's private bath tub. Yang Guifei had her own bath house and bath tub.
- An Lushan eventually led his troops to march into Chang-An, and
Emperor Xuanzong had to flee. During this process, Chang-An was
completely burnt down.
- An Lushan claimed himself to be the Emperor, and chose one of
his two sons to be the crown prince. The other son became unhappy and
killed his father. This was the end of An Lushan's revolt.
- While this was happening in Chang-An, both Xuanzong and Yang Guifei
died in exile.
- The royal family came back to Chang-An and started reconstructing the
city by collecting taxes from the farmers. This caused the revolts
from many different regions. Nevertheless, the dynasty lasted 150
years after this tragedy until 907 AD. The Dynasty was declining slowly.
The wall of Chang-An, rebuilt by the Ming Dynasty in the 14th Century.
- Here again, we can see the mood of the country from the poems written
after the An Lushan's revolt. There was a poet named Tu Fu.
In contrast to Li Bei's poems before the An Lushan revolt, Tu Hu's
poems talk about human sufferings. People were sad and unhappy.
- Chang-An remained ruined until the Ming Dynasty in the 14th Century
rebuilt the city as a military base against Mongolians, and reconstructed
Tang's rectangular wall. This reconstructed wall is still in good shape.
The city was remained as Xian. While Chang-An was meaning "eternal capital,"
Xi An means "western capital." The capital city of the Ming Dynasty
- The Tang Dynasty collapsed in 907 AD, and the country got divided into five
kingdoms. Some run by the Tang's ruling class, and some by barbarian tribes.
- The confusion lasted until until the Tang people and the invading barbarians reached an agreement.
Song Dynasties (907 -- 1207)
- Northern Song (907-1127). The Tang people and the barbarians from the north
eastern region (Manchuria)
formed a coalition government with a new capital city located between Chang-An
and Manchuria. This is now called the northern Song Dynasty.
- Within this Dynasty, the Manchu barbarians became strong, and the Tang people
started to flee to southern provinces. Northern Song became totally Manchurian
with the Manchurian ruling family. This is called to the Jin Dynasty.
- Southern Song (1127-1279). After the exodus from northern Song, those
Tang people set up a new country called the southern Song with Hangzhou
as the capital city.
- Hangzhou is one-hour train ride from Shanghai these days. Shanghai was a
fishing village at that time. Southern Song therefore started developing
Shanghai as a trading port. You know where Shanghai stands in world trades
- This area was and still is blessed with natural resources. The weather there
is ideal for silk worms. The best silk products still come from
- There are two provinces south of Hangzhou with blessed natural resources.
One of them is Jiagnxi province with white clays, like the Limoges region
in France. Some of the best dinner plates come from this area, and they
are still called China plates.
- Fujian province consists of beautiful mountains and beautiful lakes. They
provide great intellectual resources. Fujian is an ideal place to spend
retirement years while writing books. There was a Chinese scholar who just did
this. His name was Zhu Xi
(1130 -- 1200). What did he do?
- He was a government official in Hangzhou. After his retirement we
went to a village in Fujian province and started writing books. He noticed
that Tang's political development was operating according to Taoism. The
government and society should operate according to a set of written rules.
However, those rules should be applied to maintain the harmony among the
people. In so doing, he transformed the set of Confucian rules into
a coherent theory of society and government.
- In other words, he combined Confucianism and Taoism into a scientific
Confucianism, which is known to us the neo-Confucianism.
- The first beneficiary of Zhu Xi's neo-Confucianism was Korea's last
dynasty which started in 1392. This dynasty lasted more than 500 years
until 1910. The dynasty maintained its stability using Zhu Xi's ideas.
The second beneficiary was Tokugawa's shogunate which lasted from 1620 to 1860. The third beneficiary was China's Qing (Manchu) Dynasty which lasted from 1664 to 1911.
- The concept of freedom is not explicating mentioned in neo-Confucianism,
but it is not difficult to see that the degree of freedom increases as
as you move higher in social ranks, quite different from the Jeffersonian
concept. An interesting theory, but not far from the real world. These
days, your freedom will increase if you have more money and power. Zhu Xi
was interested in the stability of the society by maintaining its balance.
- In the main lobby of the Lomonosov campus of Moscow State University, there are plaques of great scholars in the world, including Socrates, Aristotle, and Marx. You will see also Zhu Xi's plaque. To Russians, Zhu Xi is that great.
In Hong Kong, the British influence appears to be strong. Do they all speak English? No. They speak Cantonese, different from Mandarin. They speak like the Tang Chinese who used to live in the Xian (called Chang-An at that time) area from 600 to 900 AD. Those Tang people came to the south to avoid northern barbarians.
- He was a government official in Hangzhou. After his retirement we went to a village in Fujian province and started writing books. He noticed that Tang's political development was operating according to Taoism. The government and society should operate according to a set of written rules. However, those rules should be applied to maintain the harmony among the people. In so doing, he transformed the set of Confucian rules into a coherent theory of society and government.
- I have an interesting story to tell you about the strength of Tang's influence
in southern provinces of China. In August of 2011, I was sitting between two
Chinese young ladies at a breakfast. One came from Beijing and speaks Mandarin
Chinese, and the other came from Guangzhou and speaks Cantonese. They use the same
letters, but speak differently.
- I asked them how to pronounce some Chinese letters and names. The Cantonese pronunciation
is much closer to the way Korean pronounce. I asked them why Korean pronunciation
is so while Beijing is geographically close to Korea, and Canton is far away. They
did not know the answer, but the answer is very simple.
- In Canton, they still speak the original Tang Chinese, while the Chinese language got mixed up in the north dues to repeated barbarian invasions. Koreans still maintain the Tang pronunciation, because they imported Tang poems and bulk of Chinese culture during the Tang Dynasty (600 -- 900 AD).
- I asked them how to pronounce some Chinese letters and names. The Cantonese pronunciation is much closer to the way Korean pronounce. I asked them why Korean pronunciation is so while Beijing is geographically close to Korea, and Canton is far away. They did not know the answer, but the answer is very simple.
Transitional Period and Yuan Dynasty (1271 -- 1368)
- While the Chinese mainland was divided into two empires, Jin and
Southern Song, Mongolians in the northwest became very strong, under
the leadership of Genghis Khan. His horse-riding troops swept much
of the European
lands, but his effect on China was rather minimal. Genghis never
attempted to invade China. To him, China was too strong.
- His grandson named Kublai Khan came with his troops to China set up
a new dynasty called Yuan in 1271. This dynasty lasted only 97 years
- Kublai also conquered Korea and forced Koreans to build ships for them
to cross the Korean Strait to Japan. Taiphoon wiped out those ships
while sailing to Japan from Korea. Japanese call this Taiphoon
"Kamikaze" or God-given wind to protect their country.
Click here for a story about those Korean-built ships.
- Those Mongolians were interested in changing the entire Chinese mainland
into grass fields to feed their horses. This did not sit very well with
the cultured Chinese.
- Their lasting contribution was to develop Beijing as the capital city.
Beijing was not an empty place. The Lugo bridge on the River Xiao was
built before Mongolians came. Yet, Beijing grew rapidly after Mongolians
started using it as their capital city.
- Marco Polo came to China during this Yuan period. Yuan was interested in trading with Venice, and there is a theory that Marco Polo came on a conformable carriage provided by the Mongolian army.
Ming Dynasty (1368 -- 1636)
- As the culture-less Mongolians consolidated their power in the
central land, the resentment grew among the Han Chinese with
traditions of Tang and Song. The resistance became numerous and
- Zhu Yuanzhang was a farmer's son, and led a revolt. His
revolt was supported by a large number of Han Chinese in
southern provinces. In 1368, Zhu set up a country with Nanjing
as the capital city not far away from Hangzhu which served as
Song's capital city. This is the beginning of the Ming
Dynasty. Zhu was born in 1328 and lived for 70 years. His
tomb is in Nanjing.
- This is the entrance
to the tomb. The roof is gold-colored, meaning that he
was the emperor under heaven.
- There is a walkway about one kilometer long between the tomb and the entrance to the tomb park. This walkway is guarded by
- This is the entrance to the tomb. The roof is gold-colored, meaning that he was the emperor under heaven.
He had a number of
wives and 27 sons. After he died in 1399, there was a bitter power
struggle among his sons. During this process, one of them moved
to Beijing and proclaimed to be the Emperor. This is how Beijing
became the capital city of the Ming Dynasty.
- The Ming Dynasty then built their imperial palace. This is
now known as the Forbidden City, and its south gate is called
Tian-Anmin (gate of heavenly peace). This palace is China's
No. 1 show piece to the world, and and
I was inside in 1995.
I went there again in April of 2003, and I met some interesting
- Tourists from Lithuania. They became very happy to hear that I have been to their country. I even mentioned "Gintara," which is the Lithuanian word for amber. Lithuania is the world No. 1 amber producing country. It was their first time in China who knows where their country is.
- This lady came from China's Yunnan Province. She was wearing the Yunnan dress. She could not speak English, but she came with her granddaughter who was fluent in English. We exchanged some kind words.
- These two students studying Spanish. They want to go to South America and manage properties there.
- In order to express their contempt toward Mongolians, the Ming
rulers completely destroyed the palace of the Yuan Dynasty and
covered the rubbles with muds. This became
the hill just north
of the Forbidden City.
- To keep Mongolians out, the Dynasty rebuilt the Great Wall, and
reconstructed the old capital city of Chang-An
and converted it to a military base. The city was renamed as Xi-An.
- In addition, the Ming Dynasty started building a strong navy and
strengthened its effective control of Taiwan. Shanghai became
one of the major trading ports of the world. Silk and porcelain
products started using sea routes to the Western world.
- During the Ming period, there was a visitor from Italy named
Mateo Ricci. He was a Jesuit priest, and went from Naples to the
southern Chinese city of Macau where Portuguese merchants
established their trading base. It was in 1582. He spent many
years in China until he was invited to the Forbidden City in 1601.
He was course interested in spreading Christianity in China.
- In order to make Christianity understandable to Chinese, he studied
Confucianism thoroughly and worked hard to find common grounds for
- He wrote a book in Chinese whose title means "True meaning of the
Lord in Heaven." This is the first Christian book written in
Chinese. However, Chinese did not pay much attention to this
book. They felt they had enough wisdom of their own, and did not
feel it necessary to import strange Western ideas.
- Mateo Ricci also met a number of Koreans while in Beijing.
Unlike Chinese, Koreans were
quite interested in his book and brought its copies to Korea.
This became the seed of Christianity in Korea.
Korea is now a strong Christian country. Scholars
are studying why. In my opinion, the Confucian base in Korea
was stronger than those in China and in Japan, and Confucius
and Jesus say the same thing.
My photo with Underwood's grandson. My grandfather was one of Underwood's trusted Korean friends.
- Korean Christianity picked up its acceleration with Protestantism.
In 1885, the first American missionary came
to Korea. He was Horace Underwood sent from the Brooklyn
Presbyterian Church in New York. His brother was one of the
pioneers in typewriter industry. Underwood typewriters once
dominated desktops in the United States, like Dell Computers
Korea's Yonsei University was built by Horace Underwood. My grandfather was a strict Confucian, but was one of his most trusted Korean friends. Here is my photo with Underwood's grandson taken in 2004. I am in a position to say something about the root of Korean Christianity.
Mateo Ricci was an Italian priest. He came to China and wrote a book in Chinese about Christianity.
- In order to make Christianity understandable to Chinese, he studied Confucianism thoroughly and worked hard to find common grounds for both doctrines.
- Toward the end of the 16th Century, Ming's ruling class became quite
corrupt. Their bureaucracy became totally ineffective. To make things
worse, Ming had to send troops to Korea against Japanese invasion.
How did this happen?
- In 1590, Toyotomi Hidesyosi unified Japan, and he thought Japan was too
small for him. He then appointed himself as the Emperor of the central
land (China) and wanted to go to Beijing to sit on the throne.
- He sent 150,000 Japanese troops to Korea to provide a safe
route for his travel to Beijing. Koreans resisted, but China had
to send troops to Korea to stop those Japanese invaders.
The war lasted for seven years until Toyotomi died. This was a costly
war for Japan, Korea, and China. It took Koreans 100 years to rebuild
- China's Ming Dynasty had to collect additional taxes from the farmers to finance this war.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was not a nice-looking man. According to Japanese, he looks like a human to monkeys, but like a monkey to humans. In either case, he was able to unify Japan.
- In 1590, Toyotomi Hidesyosi unified Japan, and he thought Japan was too small for him. He then appointed himself as the Emperor of the central land (China) and wanted to go to Beijing to sit on the throne.
- The corruption and heavy taxes caused large-scale revolts by farmers.
As a consequence Ming's emperor committed suicide by hanging himself.
The farmers came to the palace and attempted to run the country, but
those farmers could not read or write. How could they run the country?
- While the Ming Dynasty became weak, a Manchurian tribe chief named
set up a new country in Shenyang and started his dynasty in 1559.
He was quite proud of his Manchurian heritage, and called his country
"Later Jin." Jin is the name of the Manchurian empire (1127 -- 1279)
in northern China during the Song period .
- His throne was inherited by his son named Hong Taiji (1592), but he
had been the effective ruler with his father as the figure head. Nuruhachi was
108 years old when he died.
- Hong Taiji's son, thus Nuruhachi's grandson, moved to Beijing to take over the
Chinese government without military operations. This became the Qing Dynasty.
- Click here for more about Shenyang.
Entrance to the Nuruhachi shrine |
Qing Dynasty (1644 -- 1911)
- The Ming Dynasty was without government after the last emperor hanged
himself. He was not able to deal with the farmers' revolts. The farmers
came into Ming's palace in Beijing, and attempted to run the country. But
they were totally incompetent to deal with government affairs.
- The third emperor of the Manchu's later Jin (grandson of Nuruhachi) came
to the palace from Shenyang to started running the country. This is the
beginning of the Qing Dynasty.
- The Manchurian rulers of the Qing Dynasty did not destroy anything
from the Ming Dynasty and became integrated into the main stream Chinese.
However, they wanted to keep their Manchurian heritage. This is the
reason why every building in the Forbidden City has the name written in both
Chinese and Manchurian.
- The golden era of Emperor Qianlong. Qianlong was the Emperor for sixty
years from 1735 to 1796 when his son inherited his throne, but he remained
as the the effective ruler for three more years until his death in 1799.
Qianlong was a decision-making politician.
- During 64 years of his reign, China enjoyed the prosperity never seen
before. The northern and western borders became secure. The trade routes
to the Western world expanded on both land and sea.
- Qianlong was a scholar and loved to compose Tang-style poems. He
was in love with the life style of the Song Dynasty, and constructed
in his summer palace a lake modeled after the West Lake of Hangzhou which
served as the center for Song's luxurious life.
- During his reign, the upper-class people enjoyed a similar life style. China supplied silk products and fine dinner plates. Those porcelain products are called China in the Western world, and you now know the reason.
- During 64 years of his reign, China enjoyed the prosperity never seen before. The northern and western borders became secure. The trade routes to the Western world expanded on both land and sea.
- Alas, the Chinese rulers did not understand how the Western countries were
progressing. Even after 1800, Chinese rulers understood the trade as the
gifts to the Emperor from those minor countries and the Emperor's rewards to
them. When Britain proposed a diplomatic relation, the Chinese Emperor
flatly rejected by saying China cannot recognize those pirates as civilized
- In 1800, China was totally unprepared for the challenges from the Western
Hong Kong Breakfast consists of Chinese noodles and British fried eggs. Excellent combination!
- Britain totally ignored the authority of Chinese government and started
selling opium to Chinese, using the port of Guangzhou (near Hong Kong).
While the government was incompetent to do anything about the opium
abuse, there were many local officials who felt something had to be done
to stop the opium trade.
- Lin Zexu was the governor general of the southern provinces. Without
authorization from the central government, he arrested all opium dealers
and burnt a stockpile of opium products in British possession. Using
Lin's action as an excuse, Britain started the war against China in 1939
which lasted until 1842. There was another war from 1856 to 1860, because
of China's treaty violation.
As a consequence, China had to open its door completely to British commercial ventures. In addition, Britain obtained the territorial concession on the Hong Kong district. Hong Kong was under British control until 1997.
Beijing Hotel built first by a French firm in 1885 as "Hotel de Pekin." Many foreign dignitaries stayed here. The hotel runs the continuous video about its history. The history of this hotel is the history of modern China.
- In 1884, there was a conflict between China and France over who
controls the Tonkin Gulf east of Vietnam. The war did not last
long, and Chinese army did not lose all the battles, but the
result was that China had to open the door to French merchants.
The Beijing Hotel (near the Tian Anmin Square) was built in 1885
as "Hotel de Pekin."
- In 1885, China had to fight a war against Japan. With its new industrial power, Japan was eager to control the Korean peninsula, threatening China's north-east. China had to send the troops to Korea, but China was defeated, and Taiwan went to Japanese control. This was a major set back for China, and the Qing Dynasty started its disintegration.
- Britain totally ignored the authority of Chinese government and started selling opium to Chinese, using the port of Guangzhou (near Hong Kong). While the government was incompetent to do anything about the opium abuse, there were many local officials who felt something had to be done to stop the opium trade.
In 1900, a group of Chinese patriots became angry at the central
government powerless to foreign interests, and they marched into
Beijing and destroyed the embassies of Japan and Western powers.
Apparently there were many boxers among those patriotic people.
Thus, it is called the "Boxer Rebellion" in the Western world, but
Chinese have their own name which means "an organization for justice
and harmony." The Chinese government had to pay compensations to
those foreign countries.
Former British Consulate built in Shanghai (right) and the original Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.
After this, Japan and Western powers became more reckless toward
China, and the Qing Dynasty started its disintegration. Those foreign powers
established their control zones in Shanghai and practiced discrimination
against Chinese people. For instance, Chinese were not allowed to Shanghai's
The Qing Dynasty ended when General Yuan Shikai seized the Imperial
palace and kidnapped the boy emperor in 1912. He proclaimed himself
to be the emperor, but his emperorship lasted only three months.
Yuan Shikai made his military fortune when China was building up the army in the north-eastern region against the Japanese invasion in 1885. But Yuan was transferred to a different position before the war the Sino-Japanese war started in 1885, and his military reputation remained intact even though China lost the war.
- Sun Yatzen was an American-educated medical doctor. He thought China
could become like the United States. He became the first president
of a new country called "Republic of China" in 1911.
With the supports from those who had the same idea, he formed a
political party called Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party). He
played the central role during the post-Qing era, until his death in
- At the same time, in Beijing, Yuan Shikai arrested Qing's boy emperor
and claimed he was Qing's new emperor, but his throne lasted only
three months. China's north was again a battleground of warlords.
Yet, the Kuomintang government did not have enough military
resources to extend its influence to Beijing.
- After Sun died in 1925, Chiang Kai-Shek became the president. He was a
military man of some degree, and he chose Nanjing as the capital city
of his republic. He then started a speedy military advance toward the
north. Seeing Chiang's impressive performance, the warlords in the
north decided to submit themselves to Chiang's Kuomintang government.
Chiang's China covered the entire territory of China.
- Chiang was quick to establish a friendly relation with Joseph Stalin
of the Soviet Union, and received a bulk of military supplies from
him. He used those Soviet-made weapons to suppress the communists
in his own country.
- In 1921, Chinese communists held its secret meeting in Shanghai while
the country was under the Kuomintang (nationalist) regime. This group
then surfaced as the agricultural reformers. They then penetrated into
the Chinese army and was able to control one of the major units called
the 8th regional army stationed in Jiangxi province (south of Hangzhu).
Long March by Chinese communists from Jiangxi to Yenan (north of Xian).
Former Japanese military
headquarters in Shenyang. This city is known to Japanese as "Manshu Hoten."
- Alarmed by the communist activity, Chiang Kai-Shek's Kuomintang
regime started arresting those communists. With the Soviet-suppled
weapons, Chiang was ready to destroy the communist base in the Jiangsi
province. The communists had to run away from Jiangxi to Yenan (north
of Xian) through the mountain terrains where Chiang's influence could
not reach. They had to walk without supplies. Many people died.
This is known as the Long March of 1934-35. The leader of this long march was a young communist named Mao Zedong. In Yenan, the communists started consolidating their position.
- Grand Coalition against Japan (1937 -- 1945). When Japan started a
full-scale invasion of China in 1937, the communists proposed a grand
coalition of all military factions in China against Japan. Chiang was
initially against the proposal, but was forced to accept the proposal.
- The United States welcomed this coalition, and supplied weapons
to Chiang's headquarters in Chungking, through the Burmese route.
Mao maintained his liaison office in Chungking in order to maintain
contacts with the United States. However,
Chiang's army did not put up any fights against Japan, but was only
interested in suppressing communists.
On the other hand, the communists staged guerrilla wars against Japanese army units. In so doing, they developed the technique of capturing weapons from the enemy side. They captured weapons from the Japanese army and stole American-made weapons from Chiang's nationalist army.
The tide was turning toward the communists, and there were small and large-scale defections from Chiang's army to Mao's "People's Liberation Army."
George Marshall and Mao Zedong
in Yenan (1945).
- Marshall Mission to China (1945-47).
Alarmed by the prospect of a civil war after the coalition against the Japanese
invasion, the United States sent a mission headed by General George Marshall
to arrange a peaceful union of the Chiang's nationalist government and
the communist group headed by Mao. He went to Yenan to see Mao, and
received a positive response from him.
- On the other hand, Chiang Kai-Shek was totally against the
government that would allow communists in the cabinet. Instead, Chiang
demanded military aids from the United States to eliminate the communists
in the north.
- To make things worse, against Marshall's advice, Chiang sent two
best-equipped divisions of his army to Manchuria to secure the northeastern
region. This resulted in diluting the defense of the capital city of Nanjing.
- George Marshall gave up his hope for a coalition government, came
back to Washington in January of 1947 to become the secretary of state.
He continued to be in charge of the U.S. policy toward China. He came
to the conclusion that the United States could not do anything to save
Chiang's Kuomintang government.
- In 1949, Dean Acheson succeeded Marshal as the secretary of state. He edited a book called "China White Paper," consisting of all relevant documents on the Sino-American relations during the period 1944-49. I have a copy of this book.
Mao's People's Liberation Army entering Beijing in 1949.
- On the other hand, Chiang Kai-Shek was totally against the government that would allow communists in the cabinet. Instead, Chiang demanded military aids from the United States to eliminate the communists in the north.
- Civil War (1946 -- 1949). Even though the communists enjoyed popular
supports, it was not an easy job for Mao to deal with Chiang's well-equipped army.
His People's Liberation Army had to rely on captured weapons.
people. Mao's army had to stage bitter battles against Chiang's army
in the northern provinces, before entering Beijing in January of 1949.
- After defeating Chiang's army in northern provinces, Mao's Peoples
Liberation Army quickly moved toward Chiang's capital city of Nanjing.
Nanjing was defenseless because Chiang's best troops were in Manchuria
and were eliminated by Mao's army.
- Mao's army reached the Yangtze River in 1949, and Chiang's Kuomintang government moved its capital to Guangzhou. Chiang proposed a negotiated settlement, but Mao came up with solutions unacceptable to Chiang. While the negotiation was dragging on, Mao assembled one million soldiers on the shore of the Yangtze River north of Nanjing. Chiang did not have enough strength to defend Nanjing, because his best army units were in Manchuria and were eliminated earlier.
- Mao then ordered those one million soldiers to cross the River at
once with whatever means available to them. They used small and large
boats, wooden doors, wooden rafts, and whatever that can float. Yes,
they had to face
gun fires from the opposite side, but they were only minor disturbances.
Monuments at the River-crossing Museum in Nanjing. (top). Statues of the river-crossing committee members.
Deng Xiaoping is second from left.
- These monuments tell Mao's
troops did not have motor boats. Tall monuments are for
sails boats, and short ones are for whatever that can float.
- These are the statues of
the staff members who planned and executed the river-crossing
operation. I was very happy to see one name familiar to me and
to all. He was Deng Xiaping (second from left).
- This is another monument at the one of the busy traffic circles in the city. The river-crossing museum is at an isolated place and it is very difficult to reach.
- These monuments tell Mao's troops did not have motor boats. Tall monuments are for sails boats, and short ones are for whatever that can float.
- This YuTube depicts the river-crossing operation. The background music is the March of the People's Liberation Army, composed by a Korean musician.
- Another YuTube
for the March, with the composer's name.
- After this, the communist army swiftly captured Shanghai and went on
toward Guangzhou. Chiang Kei-Shek had to flee to Sichuan and then to
- After defeating Chiang's army in northern provinces, Mao's Peoples Liberation Army quickly moved toward Chiang's capital city of Nanjing. Nanjing was defenseless because Chiang's best troops were in Manchuria and were eliminated by Mao's army.
Sun Yat-Sen (idealist), |
Chiang Kai-Shek (military man).
Communist China (1949 -- now)
- In 1949, China became unified under the communist regime headed by
The British government was quick to recognize Beijing's communist regime as the legitimate government of China, and was able to maintain the British interest in Hong Kong.
- On the other hand, to the United States, Chiang Kai-Shek's
group in Taiwan remained as the sole government of China including
- During the Korean war (1950 -- 53), China sent "volunteers" to Korea to fight
against American troops. Neither side won the war.
This was the cause of the animosity between the two countries for years to come.
- The United States continued supporting Chiang's Kuomintang regime, and provided a treaty in 1954 to defend Taiwan against military attacks from "Red China." Here is a 1960 photo of Dwight Eisenhower with Chiang Kai-Shek in Taiwan. Eisenhower was the president of the United States from 1963 to 1961.
- During the Korean war (1950 -- 53), China sent "volunteers" to Korea to fight against American troops. Neither side won the war. This was the cause of the animosity between the two countries for years to come.
- In 1964, China conducted the first nuclear test. China's enlightened
communists thought their country was secure militarily, and decided to pursue
an open-door policy toward the West.
- However, this approach did not sit well with Mao's revolutionary
goals: to throw out all Western influences. This is known as
Mao's Cultural Revolution. In realty, it was Mao's move to get rid of
his political opponents from the communist party.
- Zhou Enlai's ideology was basically pro-Western, but he remained on Mao's side throughout the Cultural Revolution. In so doing, he was able to eliminate all of his rivals among the pro-Western politicians. Zhou emerged as the most powerful figure after the Cultural Revolution. He was ready to invite to China the president of the United States.
- However, this approach did not sit well with Mao's revolutionary goals: to throw out all Western influences. This is known as Mao's Cultural Revolution. In realty, it was Mao's move to get rid of his political opponents from the communist party.
- In 1972, Richard Nixon visited China, and China started an open-door
policy toward the United States. Chinese students started going to the
United States for PhD degrees.
- In 1978, the United States formally recognized Beijing's communist
regime as the legitimate government of China. Taiwan's UN Security Council
seat was replaced by Beijing's communist government. This transition took
place very quietly.
- China's open-door policy led many young Chinese to believe China could
have an American-style political system. In 1989, they gathered in Beijing
and demanded an immediate reform, but their communist government brutally
suppressed them. This is known as the Tian-Anmin Square incident.
This incident raised a human-rights issue in the United States.
- During the election campaign of 1992, Bill Clinton promised not to trade with China until the tangible improvement in human rights in China. In 1994, Clinton broke his campaign promise and allowed the trades with China. Clinton's broken promise did not become his political liability, because the economic necessity was too strong.
Mao Zedong greets Richard Nixon |
Dynamics of Chinese History
In addition, there were two ideological invasions from the West. One is communism, and the other is capitalism. The question is how these foreign ideologies are being absorbed into Chinese own culture.
Click here for more China stories.
copyright@2013 by Y. S. Kim. Photos are taken by Y. S. Kim or from the public domain, unless otherwise specified. Click here for his home page.