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China 2001

 

----   A Journey Through Paradox and Wonderment  ---

In a land that is slightly larger than the conterminous United States, China has about one-fifth of the world’s population – over 1.2 billion and counting.

China’s history spans well over 3,000 years. It first emerged in 221 BC as the first powerful state when, through brute force, King Ch’in brought six rival kingdoms under his control. King Ch’in’s kingdom did not last long, but his name will be long remembered, as his name is the origin of the name of China.

Unearthed Terra Cotta Army of China. Emperor's Quin Shi Huang life like soldiers. Discovered in 1974 after 2,000 years.

China has one of the longest and most colorful histories of any country. The Great Wall of China is one of the most, well known and greatest architectural projects in the history of the world and is a profound monument in the struggle to protect their country from invading forces. The Great Wall of China stretches over 4,600 miles and spans without interruption through mountains and valleys from the hillsides near Korea to the Gobi desert. This marvel of architecture is the only structure on earth that can be seen by astronauts with their naked eye and has been critical in helping China survive numerous foreign invaders and colonial powers.

A section of the Great Wall

No other civilization has preserved its ancient and historical roots better than China. The Chinese people have taken great care to preserve their customs, literature, historical records, art and architecture. China has been very successful in repelling the influence of many foreign countries on their history and culture. Or in many instances, after shaken off the shackles and rules of its conquers, adopted those elements, which are contributing to its wealth. (Honk Kong is the best example today)

Through the centuries, China has survived many inner-destructive forces from warlords, civil chaos and political anarchy, including the Cultural Revolution that was originated by the late Chairman Mao Zedong. (The “Great Leap Forward “campaign – a crash program of industrialization.) In a land that is so tightly ruled by cruelty and tradition, the wearing of the color yellow was reserved as the sole privilege to the imperial family and violations were quickly punished by merciless execution.

The center of imperial power in China was “The Forbidden City” and the long held rule was that no building in the capital city of Beijing could exceed the heights of the wall. Since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, this rule has been eased and today there are about 60 skyscrapers that dot the skyline of the ancient city of Beijing.

One of the long-term problems created in the civil war is the creation of two separate Chinese states. Communists led by Chairman Mao Zedong established on the mainland the “Peoples Republic of China”. The “Republic of China” which is located on the island of Taiwan (Formosa) was established by retreating Kuomintang forces loyal to General Chiang Kai-shek. The “Republic of China” follows the democratic ideology and philosophies of General Chiang Kai-shek. Both republics with different ideologies have emerged from a people suppressed and oppressed by colonial powers and invaders. They stepped into a highly sophisticated technical society with atomic weaponry at their disposal. Should the two Chinas ever unite, which may happen sooner or later, this country has the capacity to become the most powerful state in the 21st century.

Chairman Mao -- “The Red Emperor” above the main gate to the forbidden city

Soldiers of the Peoples Army

A warrior guarding the entrance to the Ming Tombs, where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty were buried

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