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Engineering an Empire - China
November 22, 2011
Engineering, an, Empire, China
Under the Chin dynasty a strong central government was established; provinces replaced feudal states. The empire was extended into parts of south China. The Great Wall was largely completed, protecting China on the north from the Huns.
The Han dynasty rose to power in 202 B.C., and greatly expanded the empire. Conquests were made in south China, Annam (northern Vietnam), and Korea. The Huns north of the Great Wall were subdued. Han conquests, westward as far as present Afghanistan, brought about trade with the Middle East by way of the Silk Road through Central Asia. China exported vast quantities of silk westward, much of it reaching the Roman Empire.
The Han adopted, for those going into government service, a system of examinations based on the Confucian classics. Scholars edited the classics and discovered and copied many old texts. The first Chinese encyclopedia was compiled. Paper was invented. Buddhism was introduced from India.
The Han dynasty was deposed in 220 A.D. There followed nearly 400 years of divided rule and civil war. During 221-65 China was divided into three separate statesWu, Shu, and Weitraditionally called the Three Kingdoms. The country was reunited in 280 under the Western Chin dynasty, but the state collapsed in 316 following uprisings by various non-Chinese peoples, mainly Turkic, Mongol, and Tibetan. In the south small Chinese states continued to rule. China lost its outlying areas, closing the Silk Road. Political disunity was offset by a general cultural advancement, however. Trade was established with southeast Asia. Buddhism became more prevalent, while interest in Confucianism declined.
Unification of China was achieved by the Sui dynasty (589-618). Under the Sui an extensive system of canals was built, interconnecting the Huang He and the Yangtze River. Chinese control was reestablished over Annam and what is present Chinese Turkestan. Also, the Chinese way of life and system of government began to influence Japan profoundly. Contact was made by way of Korea, where Chinese culture had been dominant since earliest times.
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