A Short History of China: part 3 of 6

In China’s long history, two times China was conquered and ruled by minorities. The first time was by the Mongols led by Kublai Khan. His Yuan Dynasty was short lived, lasting 89 years from 1279 to 1368 AD. After Kublai Khan’s wife died, he isolated himself from the public and his government fell into corruption. He died alone in his palace at 80, and it didn’t take long for a rebellion to break out and the Ming Dynasty to replace the Mongols.

The Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1683 AD) was established by the White Lotus, a secret Buddhist society. The Ming would be China’s last Han ruled dynasty.

Near the end of the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century, China started its long decline as the wealthiest, most powerful and technologically advanced nation on the planet to be replaced by the rise of the European colonial empires and the United States.

Joseph Needham (1900 – 1995), a Cambridge Don, went to China during World War II as a spy for the British, and discovered just how advanced and powerful China had been. When he returned to Cambridge after the war, he dedicated his life to writing “Science and Civilization in China” that was about the history of science and technology in China.

Needham’s research revealed that the ancient Chinese, when Europe was suffering through its Dark Ages (5th to 15th centuries AD), had an average of 15 important innovations a century for a total of more than 1,500. Then came the sixteenth century, when the Renaissances was under way in Europe, and the creative passions of China seemed to dry up and ended in the 19th century with the Opium Wars (1839 – 1860).

Foreign traders, mostly the British (The French and the United States eventually joined the British in this war to force illegal drugs on China), had been illegally exporting (smuggling) opium from India to China since the 18th century.  The resulting widespread addiction in China caused serious social and economic disruption leading to the collapse of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912 AD) led by the Manchu minority.

Continued in Part 4 on January 11, 2017 or return to Part 3

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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