Presentation of China

  • Official Title : People’s Republic of China
  • Capital : Beijing
  • Area : 9,596,960 km²
  • Population : 1.3 billion people
  • Peoples and ethnic groups : 93% Han, 55 ethic minorities
  • Languages : Mandarin (Putonghua), 8 groups of dialects divided into sub-dialects
  • Religions : Buddhism, Taoism, Muslim(2%), Christian(4%), the country is officially atheist
  • Government : Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • President : Xi Jinping
  • Prime Minister : Wen Jiabao and Li Keqiang

The Middle Kingdom has built its history through the various dynasties before becoming the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Between the birth of the first dynasty in 221 BC and the last, the Qing, in 1912, the Chinese history was punctuated by periods of unification and stability, and periods of disintegration and chaos.

China is now considered one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It is primarily written a civilization based primarily on the theories of Confucianism and Taoism. However, China was also influenced by the outside as shown by ideologies such as Buddhism or Marxism.

The end of dynasties is followed by the statement of the proclamation of the Republic of China by Sun Yat-sen is a total failure and is replaced by the era of “Warlords.” China is in a time of chaos and China is ever more divided between Nationalists and Communists. Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty is then restored to power in 1931.

At the same time, refugees in the mountains of south-eastern China, Mao Zedong and a few followers founded the first Communist red base. In 1934, the Long March began. This epic legend designed to escape the National Revolutionary Army and to the people’s communes in the country. It was during this long journey that Mao Zedong became the leader of the Chinese Communists. Of the 90,000 people present at the beginning, only 30,000 will arrive in Shaanxi in November 1935.

In 1949, China is experiencing a new beginning, Mao took the chair of the government and began the era of new reforms. The People’s Republic of China was born and it will survive a few more important events such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution before becoming China that we know today and that attempts by all means to shine on the international scene.

Beijing the capital of the north

Map of Beijing (1934)

  • Area : 16 800 km ²
  • Population : 16 million inhabitants including immigrants
  • People and ethnic groups : Han 92% and 8% ethnic minority (numbering 55)

The birth of a new Beijing

Between the 10th and 11th century, the Kitan ruled China and adopted the dynastic name of Liao. They set up their capital in Nanjing, literally “southern capital”, but also has four other capitals according to their seasonal movements:
Linhuang : Northern Capital
Ningcheng : capital of the Middle
Liaoyang : Capital of the East
Datong : capital of West

In the 12th century, the Jurchen took possession of Nanjing and renamed Zhongdu: Capital of Middle and they shall build the Forbidden City. But in 1215, Genghis Khan, Mongol commander, seized and pillaged the city Zhongdu leaving behind only ruins.

Zhongdu dynatie under the Yuan

At the end of the 13th century, the grand son of Genghis Khan Kublai founded the Yuan Dynasty, established his capital in Beijing and built the new capital of Mongolia “Dadu” (Great Capital) north of Zhongdu. Dadu, built form checkerboard, place the imperial palace in the center of the city, which is itself surrounded by the imperial city and finally the outer city. It was at that time were built the Imperial College and the Temple of Confucius.

Beijing and the Ming Dynasty

After termination of the Mongol empire, the Ming decided to set up their empire in the northern capital, then called Beijing. For the first time that Beijing becomes the capital of the empire. Yonghe, the Ming emperor, was the architect of Beijing and inspired plans already established during the invasion of Kublai. The city is divided into four parts with the Forbidden City in the center surrounded by a moat, and the Imperial City bounded by the walls protecting the inner city. Then the South, was the outer city.
The Ming Dynasty is the source of the most visited monuments in Beijing today such as the Forbidden City, the hill of coal, Qian Men, the Temple of Heaven, etc…
Under the Qing Dynasty, the city retains the same structure as in the Ming, however, the South is now called China Town and the City and Inner City called Tartarus.

Beijing during the reign of Mao

Beijing will undergo further architectural changes to the arrival of Mao to power. Thus, the walls, the symbol of a feudal past, were demolished to make way for devices. Entire neighborhoods will be erased from the map to make way for new buildings such as the People’s Assembly. The architecture of new buildings draw heavily Stalinist monuments. Mao took the symbolic places of the former empire as the new emblems and Tiananmen Square became the center of the city. Yet the death of Mao in 1976, Beijing is still a city with typical Chinese as a symbol of the hutongs. Tourism is not yet developed in China but from the years 1980-1990 the town, delivered to foreign investors and developers, is undergoing major changes and we see even be a CBD “Central Business District” on the eve of the Games Olympics in 2008.