Historical Perspective

Chin Shi Huang
China is a civilization that is as old as history itself, with over 4000 years of written history. Along with its contemporaries, the Egyptians and the Greeks, it took its steps towards civilization becoming one of the most powerful, prosperous and sophisticated nation in the ancient world. This was still while most of the rest of world's would be great nations were still small tribal villages. China thought itself to be the "Central Kingdom".

Throughout its long history, its presence has been felt not only by its neighbors but also as a source of trade and wonderment for its contemporaries in far off Europe. Inspiring many adventurous merchants and later armies to seek trade and conduct business with its vast economy. It was trading partners to Rome and India in ancient times, establishing what is known as the Silk Road. It continued to prosper, even after the fall of Rome, and Europe languished in the Dark Ages, reaching what could arguably be its zenith thus far, in the 15th century. With "treasure ships", reaching a length rumored to be of 400 feet long, and containing naval technology that would not be repeated by the rest of the world for years to come. China established trade routes to as far away as Africa, and engaged in power diplomacy towards its neighbors.

China began with the Xia Dynasty in 2200 B.C. which established the beginning of dynastic rule in the region and the the emergence of a Chinese writing system. Dynastic rule was facilitated by silk and copper manufacturing which had begun a thousand years earlier, along with rice cultivation which had begun as far back as 6500 B.C. The Xia dynasty followed by the Shang Dynasty, which lasted from (1700 B.C.. to 1027 B.C.). The emergence of a China that was to dominate its neighbors for centuries began at this time. The Shang made many advances in technology, producing metalwork that was superior to any other nation at the time. Eventually, this dynasty was overthrown by one of its tribes called the Zhou. It lasted the longest of all dynasties, until 221 B.C.. Towards the end of this dynasty; incursions from northern Barbarians saw the Zhou court sacked by invaders. Historians have named this period the "Spring Autumn Period" (770 B.C. to 476 B.C.) after a famous chronicle of the time, and the "Warring States Period" (475 B.C.. to 221 B.C.) when centrality of rule was all but lost. The Warring states period was ended with its first Imperial Emperor, Chin Shi Huang. Chin Shi Huang, was able to unify the country for the first time and establish the Chin Dynasty in 221 B.C.. It is from this dynasty that China gets its western name. It was marked by the harshness and brutality of its ruler in China's first attempt to connect the walls created by the warring states, and by the burning of Confucian books, and banishment of Confucian scholars.

It was followed by the Han dynasty (206 B.C.. to 220 A.D.) After which the members of the ethnic majority in China, the "people of Han," are named. This also saw the birth of the meritocracy in the form of civil service exams that was open to all social classes. The collapse of the Han Dynasty saw a period of civil war lasting over four centuries, which spawned the ancient historical novel, "The Romance of Three Kingdoms".

This was followed by the Sui dynasty (581 A.D to 617 A.D) which saw the completion of the Grand Canal started in 486 B.C.. which stretches 1114 miles linking the Yangze to the Yellow River. The Tang dynasty (618 A.D. to 907 A.D.) saw the resurgence of Confucian ideals, and the introduction of Buddhism into China by way of India. This period is considered the high point in Chinese cultural development when printing spread literature and art to vast numbers of the population. However through steady decline in military power, the dynasty ended with fragmentation of the empire for the next half century until the Song dynasty reunited the country in 960 A.D. The Song dynasty saw Chinese culture and scholastic schools of thought spread into Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.


However, by the middle of the 13th century, the Mongols ruled China after their campaigns across Asia and Europe establishing the Yuen dynasty in 1279 A.D. Foreign rule was ended by a Buddhist monk turned General in 1368 A.D., establishing the Ming Dynasty. It saw China create the greatest navy of its day, sailing to as distant Africa. As a result of the expense of the expeditions as well as from rival factions within the government which saw more importance in defending China from constant harassment from Northern barbarians and foreign influence, the voyages were suddenly stopped, and the Navy destroyed after 1433 A.D. However in 1644 A.D., the Manchurians conquered and ruled China until dynastic rule finally ended the Qing dynasty, in 1912. Henceforth China through a tumultuous process transforms itself to today's People's Republic of China, and currently the country with the largest population in the world.

China's tradition of literature, art, and science in ancient times spawned many inventions. Many are counted as some of the most important in the world, these includes: paper, printing, silk, porcelain, paper currency, the compass to gunpowder. It has also spawned many notable philosophers and scholars as well. Much of which comes from what was known as the "Spring Autumn Period" which spawned the "Hundred Schools of Thought". Best known in the west are Kong Zi or "Confucius", (551 B.C. to 479 B.C.) and his disciple Meng Zi or "Mencius" (372 B.C. to 289 B.C.). Their philosophy forms the cornerstone of Chinese thought; they appealed to the innate goodness of mankind to live according to prescribed relationship in regards to respecting the elders and authority. This was opposed by a rival school of thought, known as Legalism developed by another disciple Xun Zi. This philosophy saw mankind as innately evil and required strict authoritarian control for society to function and was adopted by the Chin Emperor to justify his harsh rule. In the Warring States period, Sun Tzu wrote treaties on war and strategy that are as insightful today as they were to China in ancient times.

Sun Tzu (Art of War)

Great Wall (Badaling Section)

While China's influence on its neighbors was great, and its inventions and culture inspired others. China has also been attacked by many barbarians throughout its history. From the Huns and other central Asian steppe tribes to the Mongols who first managed to successfully invade China and then again by the Manchurians (a tribe from Northern China) four centuries later. Much of modern China's territory including Mongolia was incorporated under the auspice of the of the Manchurians duiring the Qing dynasty. However time and again China inevitably assimilated its invaders.

These continuous barbarian encounters throughout its history, led China to build greater and greater walls and garrisons along its northern border, finally in the 15th century culminating in the Great Wall which stretches over 5000 miles across its northern border. This saw China eventually abandoning its naval superiority and turning ever inwards, and into isolationist stasis, until dynastic rule finally collapsed under the weight of its own inertia.

Imperial China's collapse was spurred on by western imperialist powers, by means of the Opium Wars in 1839 A.D. China was thrust into the modern world, battered and bruised, with Britain, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, and Belgium each gaining spheres of influence and or territorial concessions in China. Over the next century and a half, which saw China through a tumultuous time. Including several rebellions: Taiping Rebellion from 1815 A.D. to 1864 A.D., Boxer Rebellion in 1900 A.D., the Republican Revolution in 1911 A.D. under Dr. Sun Yat-Sen known as the father of modern China. Then a bloody conflict with the Japanese (1931 A.D. to 1945 A.D.). Followed by a civil war which saw China come under a communist form of government under Mao Zedong in 1949 A.D., who instituted a disastrous cultural revolution which saw the deaths of millions of people through famine, and the persecution of intellectuals. It did however set China firmly on a path of modernization. Finally with Mao's death and a slow return to a market economy. China is emerging once again as a major force to be reckoned with in the modern world.

Overall Strategy for Players Using China

Ancient Sketch of FireLance
The player using China would do well to advance into the medieval age quickly. This in order to gain its special gunpowder unit, the fire lance, one age before anyone else gets gunpowder units, and with faster knowledge accumulation and a superior economic unit production rate they are able to get to this age even faster then other Civs. Thereby getting some units that packs a big punch possibly two ages ahead of anyone else. With the Chinese economy they should be able carry the day as the age advances, and mop up in the later ages with their Manchurian infantry Units available from its Enlightenment to Modern Age. The cheaper and faster producing unique infantry units should facilitate a good infantry flood strategy, and a bonuses in research should allow the Chinese player to make sure their units keep up with others in terms of effective strength. They should also use their economic strengths to round out their attack forces to counter any anti-infantry units.

Sun Tzu in his treaties on the art of war said, that the best way to settle a dispute is by diplomacy. A descendent of his, Sun Pin, later added that "However vast a state. He who takes pleasure in war will perish". So in this regard, the Rise of Nations' China as played by the computer's AI will be more amicable to settle disputes peacefully. So players should take note that it maybe best to negotiate with China rather then face its immense army and vast economic and scientific strengths head on.

China as modelled in Rise of Nations

Unique units

  • Light Infantry Line
Fire Lancers (Medieval Age)
pre-gunpowder age gun unit

Heavy Fire Lancers (Gunpowder Age)

  • Gun Infantry Line
Manchurian Musketeers (Enlightenment Age)

Manchurian Riflemen (Industrial Age)

Manchurian Infantry (Modern Age)

Unique powers (Power of Culture)

  • Scholars, citizens, merchants and caravans created instantly
  • Science research at Library 20% cheaper
  • Receive Herbal Lore line of research for free at granary
  • Start with Large City and new cities start as a Large City

Written By: One Dead Angel


History, Education Planet, Horus Publications, Honolulu Community College