A Timeline of China

By Tim Lambert

5,000 BC The Chinese begin farming. Rice is grown in the south and millet in the north. The Chinese make pottery.

2,000 BC The Chinese make bronze tools

c. 1,750 BC The Shang dynasty rules China

c. 1,300 BC Silk is made in China

1022 BC The Zhou dynasty takes power in China

c. 650 BC Iron is smelted in China

c. 600 BC Coins are used in China. Cavalry replaces chariots in warfare.

551-479 BC Kong-Fuzi lives

c. 300 BC The horse collar is invented in China

206 BC The Han dynasty takes power in China

165 BC The emperor decrees that anyone wishing to become a paid official must sit an exam that will test his knowledge of Confucian teaching

2 AD A census shows the population of China is 57 million

220 AD The Han dynasty ends. China splits into rival kingdoms. This is the Period of Division.

618-624 The Tang dynasty reunites China. Afterwards trade and commerce flourish.

690-705 Empress Wu rules China

751 The Arabs defeat the Chinese at the battle of Talas

907 The last Tang Emperor is deposed

979 The Song dynasty takes power in China (except in the northeast)

1141 China is split in two. A people called the Jurchen rule the north.

1215 The Mongols capture Beijing

1234 The Mongols conquer all of northern China

1264 Kublai Khan makes Beijing his winter capital

1279 The Mongols finally destroy the old Song dynasty

1368 The Ming dynasty takes power in China

1406-21 The emperor builds the Forbidden City

1513 The Portuguese reach China by sea

1557 The Portuguese are allowed to settle in Macao

1644 The last Ming emperor commits suicide and the Qing dynasty takes power

1750 Agriculture, trade, and industry in China flourish

1813 Smoking opium is banned in China. However the British continue to smuggle opium into China.

1840-42 The First Opium War is fought between Britain and China. The Chinese are forced to accept British terms.

1856-60 The Second Opium War is fought. The Chinese are forced to surrender even more to the British.

1894 China fights with Japan. The Japanese quickly prevail as they industrialised while China remained an agricultural country.

1898 Following the shock of defeat by Japan the emperor tries to introduce reforms. However, the empress dowager puts a stop to it.

1900 The Boxer Rebellion takes place. It is crushed by Europeans.

1901 The empress dowager changes her mind and introduces some reforms

1911 Revolution sweeps China and it becomes a republic

1914 Yuan Shikai makes himself dictator of China

1916 Yuan dies and China descends into disorder

1919 Chinese students protest in Beijing. This becomes the Fourth of May Movement to modernize China

1921 The Chinese Communist Party is founded

1928 China is reunited by the Kuomintang

1930 The Kuomintang decides that China is not ready for democracy and Chiang Kai Shek becomes dictator

1931 The Japanese invade Manchuria

1934 The Communists undertake the Long March

1937 The Japanese invade the rest of China. Communists and Kuomintang agree a truce to fight the Japanese. The truce ends after the Japanese surrender in 1945.

1949 The Communists win power in China

1958 China undertakes the Great Leap Forward. It turns into a terrible disaster and millions die in the subsequent famine.

1966 The Cultural Revolution begins in China

1968 Mao disbands the Red Guard

1976 Mao dies

1979 A period of rapid economic growth begins in China following market reforms

1989 A mass demonstration in Tiananmen Square is crushed by the Chinese army

c. 1995 China becomes an affluent society

2008 The Olympic Games are held in Beijing

2013 China lands a robot craft called Chang’e 3 on the Moon