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The Qing Empire like its predecessor made landmark steps in the expansion of China’s territory by almost half from what the Ming had achieved. This came with a great increase in the population of China and a period of continued peace and prosperity. However, this was short lived and unlike the expectations that China may have competed with the rising powers in Europe, China vanished from the world all the sudden. The cause of this disappearance had begun during the reign of the Ming Empire but had remained unknown for centuries, and historians still debate over this myth. This paper delves into the subject of the history of China after 1500 and analyses possible reasons that might have led to the collapse of the once powerful nation during that period where the territory was under the Ming and the Qing empires. Key words: Dynasty, Ming Empire, Qing Empire, territory, decline. Introduction The decline of China during the period after 1500 can be attributed to the collapse of the two main empires that ruled over China within the period; the Ming Empire that ruled between 1368 and 1644 and the last empire that was Qing Empire, which ruled over China between 1644 and the late nineteenth century. Both of these empires saw China through a period of massive growth and prosperity in the world stage, but their gradual decline had the impact of taking China down from its position on the world trade stage. The Ming Empire took over power in China in 1368, when the emperor Zhu Yuanzhang obtained “the mandate” of heaven. The rule lasted for close to 300 years between 1368 and 1644 with the main reason for its success being the growth of industry and the enhancement of free trade with western powers, specifically Europe (Spielvogel, 2008). Prior to the rule by the Ming Empire, China was under the rule of the Yuan Empire. During the last period of the Yuan empire rule that spanned over 40 years, China was struck by drought and famine, an overflow of the Yellow river that resulted in flooding, a severe pandemic of the plague among other natural disasters. This resulted in the death of millions of Chinese people leading to a feeling within the population that the Yuan Empire no longer had the “mandate of heaven” to rule over China (Willis, 2011). Naturally, this spurred feelings of rebellion among the people and culminated in revolts that began in the 1350s and continued for close to 20 years. The soldiers of the Yuan Empire were overwhelmed and subdued, as the rebel troops took over many Chinese cities and large portions of the country (Spielvogel, 2008). The most successful of these rebel armies was from the south of the Yangtze River and was under the commandeering of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu Yuanzhang led the troops in conquering major cities in China including Beijing, which resulted in the court of the Yuan Empire fleeing northwards. Zhu Yuanzhang then claimed the “mandate of heaven” and took over as the emperor of the Ming Empire (Willis, 2011). The beginning of the Qing Empire was marked in an almost similar fashion. Established in Beijing in 1644, the empire took over from the Ming Empire by expelling the remnants of rebels of the Ming Empire, who had occupied Beijing at the time. Like the Yuan Empire that had ruled China before the Ming, the Qing Empire was not Chinese (Thackeray & Findling, 2012). The Qing Empire was under the control of the Manchus; a group of nomadic and tribal folk which originated from the north-eastern frontier of China. While it was regarded as a weak and corrupt empire in comparison to its predecessors, the Qing Empire w
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