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China: a history of building and demolishing
By Pierre with Franzi

After 54 days wandering across the most populous country in the world, this is my story. This first article on China is intended to explain the situation in China during the summer 2015, while I was travelling there with my friend Franzi.

2



A civilization of more than 4000 years

The history of China is very long and divided into dynasties of emperors. In the III° century BC., Qin Shi Huang proclaimed himself to be the first Emperor of China. He created a centralized state with a common currency.

The terracotta army

To protect the first emperor after his death, 700 000 Chinese workers built an army of 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots preceded by 520 horses and 150 riders with terracotta clay. This army was buried and rediscovered forty years ago by farmers close to Xi'An city.
Chinese archaeologists are digging the pits slowly and are piecing the fragments they find together by hand. The method used to match the broken terracotta warriors is archaic. It is carried out by hand with no use of scanners and matching software which would improve the accuracy of the process. The work is done in the open air in sight of tourists, to me, the lack of organization is deplorable!
Until the III° century AD., the Hans (the majority ethnic group in China) continued to reign in China, opening the Silk Road at the west, developing Confucianism, the arts, culture and science in China. Buddhism appears at that time and becomes very influencing as well.

3



Confucianism

This way of living is based on the words of Confucius (551-479 av. JC) and deeply inspired the Chinese. The principle: the evolution of society comes through the family and the individual. Therefore, Confucianism highlights the virtues of obedience to the powerful and benevolence - following what our moral says.
Confucianism has been imposed as a state doctrine in China since the I° century BC. in order to better control the population. This way of life has evolved to adapt to the new ideals of the country (neo-Confucianism in XIII°, new Confucianism in XX°).

4



Taoism

Appeared around the III° century BC., this way of living follows the principles of its founder Laozi, based on alchemy, pantheism and magic. It proclaims the non-intervention against nature and the search for an honest life. In this way of life, one searches the emptiness (Wu), one practices confession, and one uses the talismans or the internal alchemy to extend life, protect against the evil spirits and purify oneself.
Taoism became more and more important after the great period of separation of China from III° to V° century AD.

Taoism is facing the emergence of a Buddhism which became more and more influential between V° and VI° century, when China was split into the northern and the southern regions.

5



Buddhism

At the beginning of the millennium, the Emperor Mingdi dreamed of a crowned character and his advisor felt that the described character was similar to Buddha. The intrigued emperor invited two monks to initiate him to Buddhism. In the North, Buddhism spread and became the state religion. In the South, it was first prohibited, then became more popular than the other religions during the Sui dynasty (589-618). Buddhism was in its golden age until 845 when it got totally banned in the country in that year. Only two schools of Buddhism remain: the Chan and the Pure Land.

6



Dynasties of emperors

One of China’s Golden Ages was during the Tang Dynasty from VII° to X° century. All the lands belonged to the Emperor and in order for a family to claim their land rights, they had to compensate the emperor by annually sending their men to do military service. This is called the Fubing system. In order to find intelligent talented people to run the country, the Imperial Examination was created. This was the birth of a school system that provided equal opportunity and improve the level of education for the entire country. Great progress was made at this time in terms of art, literature and technology. China’s border got extended to the Aral Sea and the Silk Road got reopened.
In 960 there was a syncretism that combined the three mains religions together. This has influenced Chinese thinking to date.
Then the Song dynasty succeeded in reigning between the X° and XIII° century. They shared the country with the Tangut in the west and the Jin people in the north. The latter were afraid of the Song (south) such that they developed war-related science such as gunpowder.
In XIII° century, the Mongolian tribes took power over the country. Kublai Khan, the grandfather of Genghis named the Yuan Dynasty as the head of the new China, based in the new capital of Beijing until 1368. It was a dark period for the country, where half of the Chinese population disappeared or perished from the plague and human rights abuse.

7



Tibet

Between VII° and IX° century, Tibetans took control over a region extending from Central Asia to Burma, also known as the Great Tibet. The end of the Tibetan empire in 840 was caused by a civil war and not due to multiple conflicts with their Chinese neighbors.
Tibet was then controlled successively by the Mongolians and the Chinese. In 1912, they proclaimed their independence. In 1951, they lost their autonomy and their regions were split and integrated into the regions of China.

8



The Great Wall

Between VIII° and V° century BC., multiple Chinese tribes began to build up walls of protection around their territory. The Qin dynasty which unified the countries 221 BC asked for the destruction of internal borders in order to build a big wall in the north of the country to protect against Mongolian attacks.
Although the wall was fortified several times, first by the Sui, the Han and the northern dynasties, the wall was at its largest under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Ming emperors sought to permanent protection against Mongolian raids. The wall remained effective until the XVII° century, when the Chinese minority of Manchu managed to take the control of Beijing and gave the power to the Qin dynasty. Mongolia was a part of the country, the barrier was no longer needed therefore.
The Ming emperors also ordered the construction of the Forbidden City and the Grand Canal connecting Beijing to Hangzhou (near Shanghai). China had a strong navy and a professional army of one million of men.

9



Chinese pinnacle in XVIII°

It is during the Qing (1644 1911), a dynasty which was not Han that the Chinese civilization embarked on another of their golden ages: they represented a third of the world’s population and had the most important economy in the world.
In XVI°, China began to reopen trade, the British imported tea, cotton and silk in such large quantities that they used opium to lessen the deficit in the trade balance. The Chinese were such opium consumers that the Emperor, aware of its dangers, wished to prohibit opium import in 1839 and confiscated British ships. After a first Opium War, in 1842 the British demanded Hong Kong as a trading port for opium and money to compensate them for their ships
Despite the Treaty of Nanjing, opium trade was still illegal and in 1856, the second Opium War started. The French and British took control of Beijing allowing the expansion of their trade.
The Qing were very weakened by these Opium Wars, subsequent defeats against Japan (1894-95) and the extermination the Boxers movement which killed the Western missionaries by the alliance of eight Nations (G8 of the time).

10



The Chinese Republic (1912-1945)

A revolution led by Sun Yat-Sen ended the 2000 years of dynasty. In the following ten years, the Republic was very unstable and the country divided.

Chiang Kai Shek, leader of the national party Kuomintang (KMT) helped by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power over the northern countries (1926-27) and finally drove the CCP out of power. In 1934 the CCP under the leadership of Mao Zedong began their long walk to indoctrinate the country to communist ideas.

Then Japan occupied China from 1931 to 1945. This occupation caused the KMT and the CCP to unite in war against the bloody and evil occupiers.

In 1949, the CCP took control over the country. Chiang Kai Shek and the KMT were forced to take refuge on Taiwan.

11



The Popular Republic of China (since 1949)

Mao Zedong was officially President and launched his program the “Grand step forward”, which evolved collectivization of lands, executions of 45 million land owners and a transition to a planned economy. The Cultural Revolution of 1966 destroyed the legacy of 4000 years of history in China with the destruction of historical monuments and prohibition of religious practice.

12



The market socialism

In the 80s, Deng Xiaoping initiated the passage to a "socialism of market in the Chinese way" and thus he reopened China’s global market, but the country remained controlled. The protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 were severely repressed. Under the decade of Presidency of Jiang Zemin, growth of the country reached 10% making of China one of the strongest economies in the world.

13



Uncertain future

Since the 2000s, the challenges of the Presidents Hu Jintao and his successors have been to keep this high growth, while taking into account the resource depletion and the environment concerns. The living conditions of the Chinese have improved considerably but the rural people remain poor.

14



The communo-capitalist model drift

A phenomenon is happening in China and is increasingly worrisome: it is the construction of ghost towns, such Orbos, the new capital of Inner Mongolia, which has never been populated or Datong, which city center has been renovated as in the past, but no one can afford to live there.
Huge towers are blooming in the landscapes of China, but they are populated to only 10% of their capacity. Additionally they last less than ten years due to the poor quality of materials used. The narrow-mindedness of Chinese workers combined with hyper property speculation will be, in my opinion, the premises of great economic crisis...

15



Building or demolishing tomorrow

After such observations during my trip, I wonder: are Chinese currently building or demolishing their future?

1


China: a history of building and demolishing
By Pierre with Franzi

After 54 days wandering across the most populous country in the world, this is my story. This first article on China is intended to explain the situation in China during the summer 2015, while I was travelling there with my friend Franzi.



A civilization of more than 4000 years

The history of China is very long and divided into dynasties of emperors. In the III° century BC., Qin Shi Huang proclaimed himself to be the first Emperor of China. He created a centralized state with a common currency.

The terracotta army

To protect the first emperor after his death, 700 000 Chinese workers built an army of 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots preceded by 520 horses and 150 riders with terracotta clay. This army was buried and rediscovered forty years ago by farmers close to Xi'An city.
Chinese archaeologists are digging the pits slowly and are piecing the fragments they find together by hand. The method used to match the broken terracotta warriors is archaic. It is carried out by hand with no use of scanners and matching software which would improve the accuracy of the process. The work is done in the open air in sight of tourists, to me, the lack of organization is deplorable!
Until the III° century AD., the Hans (the majority ethnic group in China) continued to reign in China, opening the Silk Road at the west, developing Confucianism, the arts, culture and science in China. Buddhism appears at that time and becomes very influencing as well.



Confucianism

This way of living is based on the words of Confucius (551-479 av. JC) and deeply inspired the Chinese. The principle: the evolution of society comes through the family and the individual. Therefore, Confucianism highlights the virtues of obedience to the powerful and benevolence - following what our moral says.
Confucianism has been imposed as a state doctrine in China since the I° century BC. in order to better control the population. This way of life has evolved to adapt to the new ideals of the country (neo-Confucianism in XIII°, new Confucianism in XX°).



Taoism

Appeared around the III° century BC., this way of living follows the principles of its founder Laozi, based on alchemy, pantheism and magic. It proclaims the non-intervention against nature and the search for an honest life. In this way of life, one searches the emptiness (Wu), one practices confession, and one uses the talismans or the internal alchemy to extend life, protect against the evil spirits and purify oneself.
Taoism became more and more important after the great period of separation of China from III° to V° century AD.

Taoism is facing the emergence of a Buddhism which became more and more influential between V° and VI° century, when China was split into the northern and the southern regions.



Buddhism

At the beginning of the millennium, the Emperor Mingdi dreamed of a crowned character and his advisor felt that the described character was similar to Buddha. The intrigued emperor invited two monks to initiate him to Buddhism. In the North, Buddhism spread and became the state religion. In the South, it was first prohibited, then became more popular than the other religions during the Sui dynasty (589-618). Buddhism was in its golden age until 845 when it got totally banned in the country in that year. Only two schools of Buddhism remain: the Chan and the Pure Land.



Dynasties of emperors

One of China’s Golden Ages was during the Tang Dynasty from VII° to X° century. All the lands belonged to the Emperor and in order for a family to claim their land rights, they had to compensate the emperor by annually sending their men to do military service. This is called the Fubing system. In order to find intelligent talented people to run the country, the Imperial Examination was created. This was the birth of a school system that provided equal opportunity and improve the level of education for the entire country. Great progress was made at this time in terms of art, literature and technology. China’s border got extended to the Aral Sea and the Silk Road got reopened.
In 960 there was a syncretism that combined the three mains religions together. This has influenced Chinese thinking to date.
Then the Song dynasty succeeded in reigning between the X° and XIII° century. They shared the country with the Tangut in the west and the Jin people in the north. The latter were afraid of the Song (south) such that they developed war-related science such as gunpowder.
In XIII° century, the Mongolian tribes took power over the country. Kublai Khan, the grandfather of Genghis named the Yuan Dynasty as the head of the new China, based in the new capital of Beijing until 1368. It was a dark period for the country, where half of the Chinese population disappeared or perished from the plague and human rights abuse.



Tibet

Between VII° and IX° century, Tibetans took control over a region extending from Central Asia to Burma, also known as the Great Tibet. The end of the Tibetan empire in 840 was caused by a civil war and not due to multiple conflicts with their Chinese neighbors.
Tibet was then controlled successively by the Mongolians and the Chinese. In 1912, they proclaimed their independence. In 1951, they lost their autonomy and their regions were split and integrated into the regions of China.



The Great Wall

Between VIII° and V° century BC., multiple Chinese tribes began to build up walls of protection around their territory. The Qin dynasty which unified the countries 221 BC asked for the destruction of internal borders in order to build a big wall in the north of the country to protect against Mongolian attacks.
Although the wall was fortified several times, first by the Sui, the Han and the northern dynasties, the wall was at its largest under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Ming emperors sought to permanent protection against Mongolian raids. The wall remained effective until the XVII° century, when the Chinese minority of Manchu managed to take the control of Beijing and gave the power to the Qin dynasty. Mongolia was a part of the country, the barrier was no longer needed therefore.
The Ming emperors also ordered the construction of the Forbidden City and the Grand Canal connecting Beijing to Hangzhou (near Shanghai). China had a strong navy and a professional army of one million of men.



Chinese pinnacle in XVIII°

It is during the Qing (1644 1911), a dynasty which was not Han that the Chinese civilization embarked on another of their golden ages: they represented a third of the world’s population and had the most important economy in the world.
In XVI°, China began to reopen trade, the British imported tea, cotton and silk in such large quantities that they used opium to lessen the deficit in the trade balance. The Chinese were such opium consumers that the Emperor, aware of its dangers, wished to prohibit opium import in 1839 and confiscated British ships. After a first Opium War, in 1842 the British demanded Hong Kong as a trading port for opium and money to compensate them for their ships
Despite the Treaty of Nanjing, opium trade was still illegal and in 1856, the second Opium War started. The French and British took control of Beijing allowing the expansion of their trade.
The Qing were very weakened by these Opium Wars, subsequent defeats against Japan (1894-95) and the extermination the Boxers movement which killed the Western missionaries by the alliance of eight Nations (G8 of the time).



The Chinese Republic (1912-1945)

A revolution led by Sun Yat-Sen ended the 2000 years of dynasty. In the following ten years, the Republic was very unstable and the country divided.

Chiang Kai Shek, leader of the national party Kuomintang (KMT) helped by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power over the northern countries (1926-27) and finally drove the CCP out of power. In 1934 the CCP under the leadership of Mao Zedong began their long walk to indoctrinate the country to communist ideas.

Then Japan occupied China from 1931 to 1945. This occupation caused the KMT and the CCP to unite in war against the bloody and evil occupiers.

In 1949, the CCP took control over the country. Chiang Kai Shek and the KMT were forced to take refuge on Taiwan.



The Popular Republic of China (since 1949)

Mao Zedong was officially President and launched his program the “Grand step forward”, which evolved collectivization of lands, executions of 45 million land owners and a transition to a planned economy. The Cultural Revolution of 1966 destroyed the legacy of 4000 years of history in China with the destruction of historical monuments and prohibition of religious practice.



The market socialism

In the 80s, Deng Xiaoping initiated the passage to a "socialism of market in the Chinese way" and thus he reopened China’s global market, but the country remained controlled. The protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 were severely repressed. Under the decade of Presidency of Jiang Zemin, growth of the country reached 10% making of China one of the strongest economies in the world.



Uncertain future

Since the 2000s, the challenges of the Presidents Hu Jintao and his successors have been to keep this high growth, while taking into account the resource depletion and the environment concerns. The living conditions of the Chinese have improved considerably but the rural people remain poor.



The communo-capitalist model drift

A phenomenon is happening in China and is increasingly worrisome: it is the construction of ghost towns, such Orbos, the new capital of Inner Mongolia, which has never been populated or Datong, which city center has been renovated as in the past, but no one can afford to live there.
Huge towers are blooming in the landscapes of China, but they are populated to only 10% of their capacity. Additionally they last less than ten years due to the poor quality of materials used. The narrow-mindedness of Chinese workers combined with hyper property speculation will be, in my opinion, the premises of great economic crisis...



Building or demolishing tomorrow

After such observations during my trip, I wonder: are Chinese currently building or demolishing their future?

.