beijing history


The best poets and painters also flocked to Beijing to seek court patronage. Beijing, city, province-level shi (municipality), and capital of the People’s Republic of China. City gates were widened and new ones added, including one at Jianguomenwai to make way for the motorcar. The Han Chinese lived in the ‘Chinese City’ to the south of Tian'anmen Sq. By the close of the 15th century the Ming capital, which had started out as a remote and isolated military outpost, had become a wealthy and sophisticated Chinese city. Beijing is one of China’s seven ancient capitals (Xian, Luoyang, Kaifeng, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Anyang), is also the world-famous capital under the well-preserved protection. For instance, Manchu women did not bind their feet, wore raised platform patens (shoes), and coiled their hair in distinctive and elaborate styles. You can see the handsome clock tower of Beijing’s first railway station (Qianmen Railway Station), restored as the Beijing Railway Museum, on the southeast corner of Tian'anmen Sq. Much of it was reduced to rubble when the army of Boxers (a quasi-religious cult) besieged it in the summer of 1900.

Beijing never became an industrial or commercial centre – that role went to nearby Tianjin on the coast. Then they were either assigned to the provinces or selected to work in the central government ministries, situated in what is now Tian'anmen Sq, south of the Meridian Gate and the entrance to the Forbidden City. Tsinghua University became the birthplace of the Red Guards (a mass movement of young radicals, mobilised by Mao). There was resistance by Party Secretary Chen Xitong to the destruction of Beijing’s centre. The treaty granted Britain 21 million dollars in compensation, the opening of five treaty ports, and the handing over of Hong Kong Island. In Tang dynasty, it was called Youzhou in standard. Homo erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years ago. Peasants did well out of the first wave of reforms, but in the cities many people felt frustrated. The last Yuan emperor fled north to Shangdu, and Zhu razed the Yuan palaces in Dadu to the ground. China then fell under the control of regional warlords, and the most powerful factions fought frequent wars to take control of the capital at Beijing. Redolent with historical, cultural, and political significance, it is one of the world’s great cities. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Chen approved redevelopment plans that aimed to preserve and restore Beijing’s historic centre and characteristic architecture.

In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang, soon after declaring himself the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, sent an army toward Dadu, still held by the Yuan. In the settlement imposed after the Boxer Rebellion, China had to pay the victors heavy indemnities. The number excludes those beaten to death as they tried to escape Beijing on trains – their registration as residents of Beijing was suddenly cancelled.

On 1 October 1949 Mao ascended the Gate of Heavenly Peace and declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China, saying the Chinese people had stood up. But it still wasn't enough, and its failure to satisfy Britain's demands led to the Second Opium War (1856–60). It centered on what is now the northern stretch of the 2nd Ring Road, and stretched northwards to between the 3rd and 4th Ring Roads. Later in 1264, in preparation for the conquest of all of China to establish the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan decided to rebuild it slightly north to the center of the Jin capital, and in 1272, he made this city his capital as Dadu or Daidu to the Mongols, otherwise spelled as Cambaluc or Cambuluc in Marco Polo's accounts. On 22 January 1949 General Fu signed a surrender agreement, and on 31 January his KMT troops marched out and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered. Its conquest of Indian Bengal gave it access to massive amounts of opium, which they started smuggling into China and distributing among the population. Mongol forces burned Zhongdu to the ground in 1215. It was the Manchu Bannermen, provided for by the state and with plenty of time on their hands, who really created a Beijing culture. When the Chinese armies were defeated, the Qing court fled Beijing, and the Allied troops, while stopping short of occupying the city, ransacked the Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace, a response to the torture of British envoys travelling under a flag of truce. Beijing grew from a forward defence military headquarters into an administrative centre staffed by an elite corps of mandarins. Yongle established rigid rules and rituals, and many of his successors rebelled against the constrictions. Deng Xiaoping (1904–97), backed by a group of veteran generals, seized power in a coup d’état and threw Mao’s widow, Jiang Qing (1914–91), and her ultraleftist cronies into the notorious Qínchéng prison outside the city, where Mao had incarcerated so many senior party veterans.
The Japanese stayed in Beijing for eight years and, before their WWII defeat in 1945, had drawn up plans to build a new administrative capital in an area to the west of the city walls near Gongzhufen. Stock markets reopened, state companies were privatised and private enterprise began to flourish, especially in the service sector, which created millions of new jobs. At the time of the founding of the People's Republic, Beijing Municipality consisted of just its urban area and immediate suburbs. The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908), a daughter of a Bordered Blue Bannerman, was a young concubine when the Old Summer Palace was burned down by foreign troops in 1860. The north–south axis of the Ming city was severed by widening Chang’an Dajie into a 10-lane, east–west highway. Many went to study Marxism in Moscow. Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang led the reformist faction, but the older-generation leaders, led by Deng Xiaoping, decided to arrest Zhao and retake the city with a military assault. The Manchus, who had been called upon for help, crossed the Great Wall at Shanhaiguan in current-day Hebei province, routed Li Zicheng’s rabble army and seated themselves in Beijing. In Mao’s time the geomantic symmetry of Beijing was radically changed. Under the plan, only a fraction of the 67 sq km Ming city was preserved. Another airstrip was opened at Temple of Heaven Park by cutting down 20,000 trees, including 400 ancient cypresses. A few became so powerful they virtually ruled the empire, but many died poor and destitute. As the Manchus adapted to the changes, they tried to assimilate and their presence faded. Through the centuries of Qing rule, the Manchus tried to keep themselves culturally separate from the Chinese, speaking a different language, wearing different clothes and following different customs. The ‘trillion-dollar’ economic-stimulus package was carried out with remarkable speed. With the warlords marching armies in and out of Beijing, the almost-medieval city began to change. Archaeologists have found neolithic settlements throughout the municipality, including in Wangfujing, located in central Beijing. Homo erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years ago. Beijing’s long and colourful history goes back some 3000 years, but the city didn’t become the centre of Chinese rule until 1272 when Kublai Khan made it the capital of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The urban area was divided into many small districts inside what is now the 2nd Ring Road. Even so, Beijing’s romantic air of decaying grandeur attracted Chinese and Western writers and painters trying to fuse Western and Chinese artistic traditions. The Khitans relied on the Grand Canal to ship goods such as silk, porcelain, tea and grain from the Yangzi River delta. The economy was given a huge impetus by decisions to rebuild all major cities virtually from scratch, privatise housing and sell 50- or 70-year land leases to developers. According to the recorded history, Beijing exactly has 3040 years history. No part of this site may be reproduced without our written permission. From 1421 onwards, Beijing, also known as Jingshi, was the "official" capital of the Ming Dynasty while Nanjing was demoted to the status of secondary capital. The Manchus, like the Mongols, enjoyed hunting, riding, hawking, skating and archery. After high-ranking Qing official Yuan Shikai forced the abdication of the Qing emperor in Beijing and ensured the success of the revolution, the revolutionaries in Nanjing accepted that Yuan should be the president of the new Republic of China and the capital remains at Beijing. Cixi ruled China ‘from behind the curtain’ through a series of proxy emperors for four decades, a remarkable achievement given that women weren't even allowed to set foot in the main halls of the Forbidden City.

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