Chronology

10,000-8,000 BCE 
Beginnings of settled agriculture in the north China plain

5000-1500 BCE 
Neolithic settlements grow in sophistication of agriculture, of pottery, and of jade tools

CA. 1500-1045 BCE 
Shang kings dominate north China plain, develop stratified feudal-type society with writing and sophisticated bronze culture

1045 BCE 
Zhou people conquer Shang settlements, develop idea of Mandate of Heaven

1045-771 BCE 
Western Zhou dynasty continues Shang bronze and artistic culture, king rules through feudal-type division of outlying territories

770-256 BCE 
Spring and Autumn period (after the Spring and Autumn Annals); gradual decline of Zhou court as vassals in outlying territories become increasingly independent

481-221 BCE 
Warring States period (after Intrigues of the Warring States); independent kingdoms compete in attempt to conquer and absorb competing states

221-206 BCE 
Qin dynasty; Qin Empire, under Qin Shi Huangdi, defeats and unifies all the Warring States into a central bureaucratic empire

206 BCE-220 CE 
Han dynasty; Han Empire maintains Qin imperial institutions while moderating harsh Qin laws and promoting Confucianism as a state ideology

220-589 
North-South Division; nomadic peoples (with Chinese collaborators) dominate north China; series of weak Chinese regimes in south China; Buddhism grows dramatically in both south and north

581-618 
Sui dynasty; Sui Empire unifies north and south militarily and politically in 589 and builds Grand Canal from central to north China

618-907 
Tang dynasty; great age of Buddhism and of poetry; Tang Empire maintains strong central state and becomes cosmopolitan center of world trade

755-763 
An Lushan Rebellion weakens Tang politically and militarily

907-960 
Five Dynasties period of division and civil war

960-1279 
Song dynasty; growing prosperity and trade; revival of Confucian thought (Neo- Confucianism); increasingly threatened by neighboring nomadic peoples

960-1127 
Northern Song dynasty; capital at Kaifeng falls to Jurchen invaders in 1127

1127-1279 
Southern Song dynasty; capital moved to Hangzhou

1279-1368 
Yuan dynasty; Mongols conquer all of China in 1279 and rule the south harshly

1368-1644 
Ming ynasty; Zhu Yuanzhang defeats Mongols and establishes more authoritarian monarchical rule; growing prosperity in sixteenth century; China again becomes center of world trade (tea, silk, porcelain for New World silver)

1644-1911 
Qing ynasty; Manchus from northeast of Beijing conquer all of China with collaboration of many elite Chinese

CA. 1700-1799 
Height of Qing influence over Tibet, Central Asia, and Inner Mongolia

1839-1842 
Opium War demonstrates weakness of Qing dynasty in face of industrializing western European states

1840s-1911 
Qing weakness invites Western and Japanese encroachment on Chinese sovereignty

1912-1949 
Republic of China; Yuan Shikai, first president, asserts dictatorship but dies in 1916

1916-1927 
Warlord period; no strong central government; warlords compete for power mainly through training and equipping of armed troops

1925-1927 
Nationalist Party and Communist Party cooperate to seize military control of southeast and central coastal areas by 1927

1927-1937 
Nanjing Decade; Chiang Kai-shek purges Communist Party allies in 1927 and wins allegiance of northern warlords to “unify” north and south under Nationalist Party control

1931 
Japan seizes control of Manchuria

1937-1945 
Sino-Japanese War; Japan occupies eastern third of China; Chinese Communist Party occupies northwest, and Nationalist Party occupies southwest

1945-1949 
Communist-Nationalist Party negotiations break down; civil war begins in 1947; Communist forces quickly defeat Nationalists, who flee to Taiwan

1949-present 
People’s Republic of China on mainland; Republic of China on Taiwan

1957 
Hundred Flowers campaign leads to persecution of intellectuals

1958-1961 
Great Leap Forward leads to massive famine and thirty million deaths

1959 
Suppression of revolt in Tibet

1966-1969 
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution produces chaos and isolates China diplomatically

1971-1972 
China readmitted to the United Nations; U.S. president Richard Nixon visits China

1976 
Zhou Enlai dies in January; Mao Zedong dies in August; Hua Guofeng succeeds Mao and arrests his closest associates, the “Gang of Four”

1978 
Deng Xiaoping returns to power, promotes “the four modernizations,” and ends the decades of Maoist-style class struggle

1979 
Special Economic Zones created to stimulate foreign trade and investment

1987 
In Taiwan, President Chiang Ching-kuo (Chiang Kai-shek’s son) lifts martial law and permits opposition political parties

1989 
Prodemocracy demonstrations suppressed in early June after six weeks of occupying the streets of Beijing and other cities

1992 
Deng Xiaoping on “southern tour” to Shenzhen reaffirms commitment to economic reform and rapid development (with Communist Party monopoly on political power)

1994 
Jiang Zemin succeeds Deng Xiaoping and continues his policies

1997 
Hong Kong reverts to Chinese control

1998 
Pragmatist Zhu Rongji succeeds conservative Li Peng as premier

2000 
Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party wins Taiwan presidency, putting the Nationalist Party out of power on Taiwan for the first time

2001 
China becomes a member of the World Trade Organization

2003 
Hu Jintao succeeds Jiang Zemin as president and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party; continues policies of Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin

2008 
Ma Ying-jeou regains Taiwan presidency for Nationalist Party, calling for improved relations and negotiations with the People’s Republic of China; China hosts Summer Olympics; in response to global economic crisis, government announces $586 billion government investment in economic infrastructure building

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