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China, is one of the earliest civilizations in the world, it has a recorded history of about 3, 600 years. China’s development has passed through stages of primitive society, slave society and feudal society. During China’s long period of development the industrious, courageous and innovative Chinese people collectively created a great civilization which has made many great contributions to both the ancient and modern world. The Chinese civilization was ruled by various dynasties in which several emperors would rule. Within the dynasties there were several emperors all of which played a significant role in the development in the Chinese civilization. Today china is one of the leading countries in economics, but still holds true to its culture and ways of society. Chinese culture and society was directly influenced by dynasties and emperors over time.
The Chinese were ruled by various dynasties, since ca. 2,000 BCE. A dynasty is a time period that is ruled by a specific family. The Qin dynasty was short but vigorous. During the Qin dynasty, centralization was achieved by ruthless methods and standardization of codes and procedures, thought patterns and scholarship, and the forms of coinage and writing. During this time Confucian ideals of government were, out of favour. “The kings of the time banished or put to death many opposing Confucian scholars and removed and burned their books, in order to stop the criticism of the imperial rule.” [Echoes From the Past] In order to fend off barbarian intrusion, the Qin joined walls of various waring states to make a 5,000km long wall, which would be known as the Great Wall of China. During the Han dynasty the rulers changed some of the harsh views of the previous Qin dynasty. “Confucian ideals were adopted as the creed of the Han empire and Confusion scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service.”[Chinese Dynasties] Porcelain and paper were invented during these times. It was also notable for its military skill. “The Han also used the “Silk Route” to transport silk from China to Europe. However the Han rulers were unable to cope with the growing population, increasing wealth, rivalries and complex political institutions.” [The Imperial Era] The government was also filled with corruption. ‘During the Tang dynasty Buddhism flourished and became a permenant part of traditional Chinese culture. The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. The government was supported by a large group of Confucian literati which, were selected through civil service examinations.’ [Tang Dynasty] During the Sung dynasty they re-established Confucianism as the main philosophy and reunified most of China. This dynasty is notable for “the development of cities not only for administrative purposes but also as centers of trade, industry and maritime commerce.” [Sung Dynasty] The Sung refined the Tang ideal of the universal man. Intellects of this time found answers to all political and philosophical questions in the Confucian Classics, this aided in the decline of Buddhism.”The societal development of pre-modern China resulted both in many generations of political, social, and spiritual stability and in the slowness of cultural and institutional change up to the nineteenth century.”[Chinese Dynasties] All of the mentioned dynasties played a major role in the development of China but in particular it was the emperors of within these dynasties that influenced and shaped the development of the Chinese civilization.
Within every dynasty there were numerous emperors, there were 157 emperors in total starting with the first emperor Shi Huangdi of the Qin dynasty to the final emperor Pu Yi of the Qing dynasty. Each emperor of same dynasty carried the family name which was the name of the dynasty. The first Chinese emperor was Qin Shi Huangdi of the Qin dynasty. Shi Huangdi was a violent and brutal man. “He provided a dynasty for generations to come, unfortunately, it was through the suffering of his people.”[Shi Huangdi, Ruler of the Qin Dynasty] Due to the fact that he was violent and brutal Huangdi produced a warlike culture in China, which brought him many enemies. “During his lifetime there were three attempts to assassinate him, so he had to be protected in the afterlife (terra cotta warriors).” [Shi Huangdi] Huangdi wrote a book called The Canon of Internal Medicine. It described medical physiology, anatomy, and acupuncture. “This famous classic is considered to be the bible of traditional Chinese medicine but its true authorship is unkown.” [Classics of Traditional Chinese Medicine] Many inventions originated from the time of Huangdi, such as characters, ships and carts, medicines, music, sericiculture and some daily utensils. “Thus Huangdi was said to be the founder of Chinese civilization. Huangdi is also regarded as the central god among the five gods in the heaven in Chinese mythology.”[Two Emperors] Huangdi relied on Legalist scholar-advisers. He achieved centralization by ruthless methods, and was focused on standardizing legal codes and bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship.”[The Imperial Era] In order to silence criticism of the imperial rule, he ordered that any objecting Confucian scholars would be banished or killed. He then confiscated and burned their books. Huangdi’s rise as a great leader was aided by numerous military expeditions which pushed forward the frontiers in the north and south. In order to fend off barbarian invasion he strengthened walls that were built by various warring states and connected them to make a 5,000 km-long wall. “The Great Wall is actually four great walls rebuilt or extended during the Western Han, Sui, Jin and Ming dynasties, rather than a single, continuous wall.” [Echoes From the Past]. Emperor Wudi, was the sixth emperor of the Western Han Dynasty. His reign is one of the most celebrated in Chinese history. “After his death, he was given a posthumous title of Emperor Shizong.”[Emperor Wu of the Han] He came to the throne at the age of sixteen. He carried out a series of reforms, devoted himself to military conquests and territorial expansion and that’s why people call him Emperor Wudi which means Martial Emperor. Wudi’s most important military campaigns were against the Xiongnu, an ancient tribe that lived in North China and posed a powerful threat to the Han Empire. “After three expeditions, Wudi finally drove the Xiongnu into the far north of Gobi, thus maintaining the safety of the Hexi Corridor. In order to avoid the aggression of other nomadic tribes, he also ordered the construction of the Great Wall.” [The Han Dynasty] During his expeditions Wudi became aware of the cultures and customs of other nationalities. “This eventually lead to the opening of the Silk Road which later served as a route for cultural and economical exchange between the east and the west.” [Empress Wu Zetain] In order to pay his military cost, Wudi raised taxes, nationalized many private businesses and confiscated property for the nobility. He also restrained other thoughts such as Taoism but made Confucianism a state ideology. Wudi also developed the economy, establishing state monopolies on salt, liquor and rice. “He was an ambitious ruler who was a skillful military strategist with many able generals. Domestically the power of the lords was reduced and a strong centralised state finally established. Buddhism which arrived from India, contributed to the cultural development of China.” [Emperor Wu of the Han] His wars had emptied the treasury, and heavy taxes were imposed on the people. Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty was a wise and confident ruler, and was knowledgeable in politics and military affairs. During his reign China flourished, and encountered a population explosion, an economy boom, a flowering of the arts and culture and the expansion of her borders. “During this time China rose to preeminence in Central Asia after defeating the Eastern Turks several times. However, as he got to the end of his reign, Taizong became tyrannical and extravagant, and he pursued elixirs of immortal life. One of these was said to have cost his death in 649 AD.”[Ancient Times of China] “Taizong adopted a series of policies known as the Zhenguan reign period reforms, which pushed the feudal society to the height of prosperity.”[Tang Dynasty] During this time agriculture, handicrafts and commerce flourished; technologies for textile manufacture and dyeing, porcelain production, smelting, metal casting and shipbuilding made great progress. Land and water transportation was also fairly well developed and economic and cultural relations with Japan, Korea, India, Persia, Arabia and other countries were abundant. Taizong implemented improvements in all aspects of Chinese life.” From politics, economics, culture and foreign relations, he focused on improvement of life for all subjects, not just the ruling class. Women were allowed to be economically independent and were also allowed to be educated in philosophy, culture art and social ethics. Divorce became allowable is it was a mutual and peaceful process.” [The Tang Dynasty ] Shi Huangdi, Wudi, and Taizong were three of the greatest and most influential emperors of that China was ever ruled by. What these emperors did is still reflected in China today especially, the ways of Shi Huangdi.
Today China has about 1.3 billion residents. The Chinese have money to flaunt. “They pay to visit a theme parks or they rush around cellular phones in hand, which is a must for the new capitalists.” [Mike Edwards] China has a booming and rapidly growing economy, and exports items to every continent. As China’s economy continues to grow larger and more global, multinational companies continue to compete for pieces of the country’s tremendous consumer market. Hong Kong is China’s main business center. Within Hong Kong the trade and real estate markets and thriving. “China has a 40 billion dollar export market just to the united states alone.” [Mike Edwards] Piracy has become a hot trade issue between the United States and China over the last decade. Producing illegal tapes, CDs, videos and software. China is concerned about its food supply, yet they continue on with their industrial development. China supplies 40% of all toys sold in the US. China’s economy has increased at such a rapid rate because since 1979, China has been moving closer towards capitalism and has finally reached there. “But instead of calling it capitalism they called it “market socialism”. Foreign business was lured in by tax breaks and other capitalistic incentives.” [China’s Booming Economy] Acupuncture which originated from Ancient China is now spreading into the Western World. Buddhism which came across to China from India around 268CE was an alternative to traditional Chinese religions such as, Confucianism and Taoism. Buddhism has now become china’s main religions has also spread over to the Western World. The Chinese government has gone through several changes in the form of government such as socialism, communism, and capitalism.
Chinese culture and society was directly influenced by the dynasties and emperors over time. Every dynastic change resulted in alteration in which the Chinese were ruled and lived by. China has had many great emperors but Shi Huangdi, Wudi, and Taizong stand out above many other emperors and their influence is still seen in China today. The chinese Government has undergone several changes in its form. Since the Chinese became Capitalist there economy has skyrocketed. China is one of the oldest and greatest civilizations which has greatly affected all of mankind.
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