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China history questions - Coursework Example

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1. China has had a remarkably stable history, with large governments which were usually only interrupted by brief periods between them. This is in stark contrast with the European mould where the fall of an empire, the Roman Empire for example, would be permanent…
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Download file to see previous pages This means that it was relatively easy to form an empire in China, and once form such empires only suffered from rare international interference until the modern era. Beyond this, however, there are also aspects of Chinese society that led to this longstanding imperial nature. One is a unified language: China was a highly literate society from its earliest days, and more or less the same language (or mutually intelligible dialects) have been spoken uniformly across that range ever since. Beyond that, Chinese philosophy has tended to be relatively patriarchal, glorifying those who are in power as deserving to be so (either through the meritocracy of the government tests or divine right of the supreme ruler) and thus societies within China were relatively unlikely to rebel against their overlords. Despite all of this, however, governments did occasionally fall. One of the most famous cases occurred at the close of the first Empire, when Qin died on a trip to the distant parts of his empire, and his subordinates conspired to place a pliable son on the throne. In this case, it can largely be argued that the disintegration was caused by overwhelming importance of the personality of the emperor in this early state, and the volatility caused by a popular emperor dying and his son having foolish policies. One case of the overthrow of China’s power through invasion occurred via the Mongol invasions of the middle ages. Here, the steppes that had formerly posed as a protection from China against invading people actually became the source an invasion. The country quickly formed back into its imperial habits, however, with a Mongol ruler simply replacing the Chinese ruler. This quick reconstruction as a consequence of the strength of the bureaucracy and the relative flexibility of the Mongols, who tended to adapt easily to new systems of control. One case where the empire almost fell but remained together was the Rebellion of the Seven states. In this case the Seven pseudo independent states under the Han dynasty rebelled against further centralization of government – but a military conflict allowed the Han to retain control, indicating the power of the centralized imperial army that the dynasty had been able to develop. 2. Though China imagined itself to be an unlimited realm, it was in point of fact quite constrained. The ideological underpinnings of this perception of the centrality of China were somewhat well supported: as far as China knew it was by far the largest and most powerful empire in the world (and for most of this existence it was probably true). Furthermore, Chinese culture was put on a pedastul above all others, which were considered barbarous. Despite China’s imagination, however, it was not an unlimited realm. In physical terms, China was in fact quite limited: as discussed in the previous chapter, China actually had significant barriers to entry on almost all sides of it. Yet for all this, China did engage in international relations, most prominently with other countries in south-east Asia, but also with much more distant peoples. China did have some trade across the Himalayas with India, who in turn traded with Arabs who in turn traded with Europeans. Thus, China did have contact with the realms outside of itself, albeit ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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